Introduction – Phenomenology and virtuality

Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology 20 (1):e1896236 (2020)
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ABSTRACT The technological virtual converges with our contemporary existence in a multitude of ways, which suggests a need to interrogate the question of the virtual existentially. Merleau-Ponty’s existential phenomenological account of embodiment is invaluable in this regard because the virtual is encountered from the basis of the facticity of the embodied individual – a facticity that is closely related to perception and motor intentionality. The current article argues that these characteristics of the body-subject should be taken into consideration in order to develop a clearer description of the virtual. However, beyond an embodied account that relates to early technologies, Merleau-Ponty also presents through his concept of the flesh a novel avenue for the ontological investigation of the virtual. The flesh describes the intertwining of the body-subject and the world, which is suggestive of a new account of the individual’s sensibility in relation to the virtual. An original concept is suggested to describe the existential-ontological structure of the virtual: The embodied screen. The embodied screen as neologism presents an alternative conceptualisation of the coincidence of the body-subject (who understands the world spatially) with the virtual (as non-spatial). By tracing imaginative signification and embodied habitude in terms of the virtual, this article suggests certain existential implications of the virtual for contemporary being.

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