An increasing number of scholars at the intersection of feminist philosophy, philosophy of disability, and critical disability studies have turned to Merleau-Ponty to develop phenomenologies of the non-normate body. These studies buck the historical trend of philosophers employing disability merely as an example of deficiency or harm, a litmus test for normative theories, or an umbrella term for inquiries into aphenotypical bodily variation. Given the near-ubiquitous privileging of ablebodiedness across the history of philosophy, I ask: is philosophical inquiry that begins with and from disability a form of what Merleau-Ponty honorifically terms “non-philosophy”? I first argue that the problematic treatment or omission of disability within philosophy is due primarily to its inheritance of what I call “the ableist conflation.” I then draw a cautionary tale about how ableist assumptions can easily undermine phenomenological inquiry. Though a critical, first-person centered analysis, I argue that Merleau-Ponty’s famous example of the “blind man’s cane”, in Phenomenology of Perception, runs awry by omitting the social dimensions of disabled experiences, misconstruing the nature of worldcreating disabilities, and operating via an able-bodied simulation that at times conflates object-annexation or -extension with incorporation. I hope to show that, following the excision of ableist assumptions, Merleau-Ponty’s work indeed functions as a fruitful model for non-normate phenomenology. If phenomenology is to become “non-philosophy”, as Merleau-Ponty once hoped, it must better heed the insights and correctives of non-normate phenomenology and philosophy, i.e., inquiry grounded in disabled or non-normate experience.

In questo numero