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The Ontology of Becoming and the Ethics of Particularity

M. C. Dillon

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

In my work on these posthumous manuscripts, I have sought to honor Mike Dillon and his memory by presenting them as it seems he intended. That is a daunting task and I am especially indebted to several people for their insights, efforts, and support of my work on this project. ...


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pp. xiii-xiv

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Editor's Introduction

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pp. xv-xxxvi

In his foreword to Merleau-Ponty’s The Visible and the Invisible, editor Claude Lefort writes:
However expected it may sometimes be, the death of a . . . friend opens an abyss before us. How much more so when it comes absolutely unannounced . . . when, moreover, he who dies is so alive

I. Art, Truth, and Illusion: Nietzsche’s Ontology

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I. Art and Illusion: Nietzsche's Metaphysical Skiepticism

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pp. 3-14

Art creates illusions that vindicate reality. This is Nietzsche’s claim in The Birth of Tragedy. What is the argument Nietzsche offers in support of this claim?
Reality is inaccessible to human cognition because it is finite and perspectival. A finite perspective, taken to be Real,1 can only be an illusion. The ...

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II. Nietzsche’s Metamorphosis

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pp. 15-27

Nietzsche’s metamorphosis is a process of self-transcendence without finality. It terminates in decay and death. There is no otherworldly redemption, no reward in a hereafter. There is, and only is, life-unto-death, that eternally recurring organic cycle, celebrated in the agon of the Greek phallic plays, of ...

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III. Illusion, Appearance, and Perspective: Nietzsche’s Honest Truth

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pp. 28-39

Are we in touch with reality? That may be the question that initiates philosophy, one of the ways of articulating the initial doubt that gives rise to reflection, inquiry, and critique of human knowing. Philosophy begins in the mode of cognitive insecurity. And that is where it will stay indefinitely, as long as we ...

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IV. Zarathustra: Transcendence Here and Hereafter

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pp. 40-53

Nietzsche announces the coming of Zarathustra in The Gay Science and says two things about it: it is an experiment, and in that experiment tragedy begins. What is tragedy?
Nietzsche set forth an account of tragedy in The Birth of Tragedy and ...

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V. Body and Soul: Nietzsche’s Self

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pp. 54-68

In his ruminations on Beyond Good and Evil in Ecce Homo, Nietzsche suggests a comparison between himself and God. On the seventh day following creation, God becomes a serpent lying down beneath the tree of knowledge. In his leisure, he reflects that he has made everything too beautiful, and recuperates ...

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VI. Morality in a God-Forsaken World

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pp. 69-88

The triad that subtends Nietzsche’s morality is the intersection of lucidity, honesty, and nobility, and the value that brings these three terms into unity is truth. The locus of the problem of truth remains the issue of Nietzsche’s evolving treatment of the distinction between illusion ...

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pp. 89-98

First a word about the project of genealogical explanation in contemporary Continental thought. The word is ambivalence.
Foucault’s histories of sexuality are genealogical narratives in that they purport to describe how we arrived where we are with respect to sexual norms and values on the basis of a retrieval of (mostly) documentary (as opposed, for example, biological) evidence regarding the evolution of sexuality as a ...

II. The Ethics of Particularity

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I. Sexual Ethics and Shame

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pp. 101-110

Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological account of the lived body and his non-dualistic ontology of flesh allow us to identify several pervasive errors in traditional accounts of normativity, especially as they apply to the value-laden domain of human sexuality. These errors have a common element: binary ...

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II. Sexlove and Ethics

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pp. 111-122

Sexlove is grounded in the transfer of corporeal schema that, through reversibility, allows me to recognize you as a fellow human being: it grants me the ability to see myself through your eyes and feel myself through your touch. This displaced experience of myself from the outside alienates me from myself, ...

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III. Conscience and Authenticity

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pp. 123-139

Can there be authentic obedience to the call of conscience?
Conscience is a name for a rift within the self. Authenticity is a name for unity within the self. When I hear the call of conscience, the caller and the called are not the same. When I am authentic, I am my ownmost self. Just to stipulate that it is my ownmost being not to be at one with myself is not ...

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IV. Reversibility and Ethics: The Question of Violence

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pp. 140-152

This [chapter]1 argues against two theoretical standpoints. The first contends that all human action entails violence. The second contends that discourse, the traditional alternative to violent confrontation, is itself necessarily violent. I contend that the conjunction of these two theses obscures significant ...

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V. Does Merleau-Ponty’s Ontology Predelineate a Politics?

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pp. 153-165

Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy is situated in the context of the transcendentalism of contemporary continental thought. The main thesis of transcendental philosophy is that human experience is mediated by formal structures variously conceived as categories of understanding or essences or ...

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VI. Merleau-Ponty and The Ontology of Ecology, Orapocalypse Later

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pp. 166-178

What can a philosopher contribute to the contemporary debate about ecology? As philosophers, we have no claim to technical knowledge about how to stop global warming, protect endangered species, or reduce the pollution of our planet’s earth, air, and water. ...

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VII. Life-Death

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pp. 179-189

The philosophers I admire are those who are humble enough to place themselves in service to their thoughts and arrogant enough to push those thoughts toward their limits. The philosopher has the thought and the thought has the philosopher. If the philosopher is true to the thought, it will lead him beyond ...

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VIII. Expression and The Ethics of Particularity

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pp. 190-200

[Throughout this book],1 I have argued for an ethics of expression in which the recurrent problem of reconciling the particular individual with the universal is achievable through the agon of discourse. Discourse, I have claimed, is different from, and generally preferable to, violent confrontation because it minimizes the amount of human misery generated through the process of ...


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pp. 201-220


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pp. 221-224


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pp. 225-234

E-ISBN-13: 9780821444153

Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, -- 1844-1900.
  • Intersubjectivity.
  • Ontology.
  • Becoming (Philosophy).
  • Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, 1908-1961.
  • Ethics.
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