Paul Ricoeur’s admiration for Merleau-Ponty is well-known given that he presented his “practical counterpart” to the Phenomenology of Perception in the form of his Freedom and Nature: The Voluntary and the Involuntary. One is immediately surprised that this is not recognized as the practical content of his predecessor’s philosophy given the diverse analyses at the Collège de France of which, in particular, the marked interest Merleau-Ponty had in Marxist thought as the philosophy of the fleshly human being, as well as the naturalist motif of the active and suffering being beginning in 1956, are part. For, it is due to this motif that Ricoeur, in 2004, presents the trajectory of recognition: from the active and suffering human being to the capable human being. As we see them, the stakes in these two philosophies, as far as their practical dimensions are concerned, are easily summarized by the requirements Paul Ricoeur formulated in his work, Oneself as Another. This is particularly the case given that this text has for its aim, “determining the new traits of individual identity (ipseity) which correspond to practical politics” – the determination of Self as a self-designing agent, which, according to the author, lies at the intersection of a phenomenology of action and an ontology of the Self. In fact, as Ricoeur himself underlines, the paradoxical effacement of the question of ipseity in Kantian moral philosophy, among others, is explained by the absence of just such a theory of action. Briefly, the “I want” analysis by Ricoeur in 1950 is anchored in the “I can”, which is never limited to the single spatial outline we find in Merleau-Ponty. Thus, to the phenomenological figure of our experiences of passivity correspond the ontological category of alterity, as mentioned in the phrase from The Visible and the Invisible taken up in the title of this article and which it would not be shocking to attribute to Ricoeur.

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