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Torn Flesh: Julia Kristeva and the Givenness of the Stranger

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The lived body—or the flesh—in phenomenological thought, has always served to locate the individual unity of personhood, or perceptual experience, or at least one’s objective unity in the lived world. It has been what makes me “who” I am, my individuating facticity. Jean-Luc Marion, in particular, describes the capacity of the flesh to exceed all forms of phenomenological manifestation as a saturated phenomenon. The aim of this essay is to question this status of the flesh by way of an investigation into the work of Julia Kristeva’s account of the foreigner and maternity. It is argued that the status of the flesh as an individuating process is rather a dividing process, which is mediated through my relation to the other. A new Kristevan ethic is sketched.

Affiliations: 1: Boston College


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