Philosophies of Touch: from Aristotle to Phenomenology

In: Research in Phenomenology
Richard Kearney Charles B. Seelig Professor of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy, Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA US

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This essay explores Aristotle’s discovery of touch as the most universal and philosophical of the senses. It analyses his central insight in the De Anima that tactile flesh is a “medium not an organ,” unpacking both its metaphysical and ethical implications. The essay concludes with a discussion of how contemporary phenomenology—from Husserl to Merleau-Ponty and Irigaray—re-describes Aristotle’s seminal intuition regarding the model of “double reversible sensation.”

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