Continental Philosophy Review

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 413–429 | Cite as

The body of the other: intercorporeality and the phenomenology of agoraphobia

  • Dylan TriggEmail author


How is our experience of the world affected by our experience of others? Such is the question I will be exploring in this paper. I will do so via the agoraphobic condition. In agoraphobia, we are rewarded with an enriched glimpse into the intersubjective formation of the world, and in particular to our embodied experience of that social space. I will be making two key claims. First, intersubjectivity is essentially an issue of intercorporeality, a point I shall explore with recourse to Merleau-Ponty’s account of the prepersonal body. The implication of this claim is that evading or withdrawing from the other remains structurally impossible so long as we remain bodily subjects. Second, the necessary relation with others defines our thematic and affective experience of the world. Far from a formal connection with others, the corporeal basis of intersubjectivity means that our lived experience of the world is mediated via our bodily relations with others. In this way, intercorporeality reveals the body as being dynamically receptive to social interactions with others. Each of these claims is demonstrated via a phenomenological analysis of the agoraphobe’s interaction with others. From this analysis, I conclude that our experience of the world is affected by our experience of others precisely because we are in a bodily relation with others. Such a relation is not causally linked, as though first there were a body, then a world, and then a subject that provided a thematic and affective context to that experience. Instead, body, other, and world are each intertwined in a single unity and cannot be considered apart.


Phenomenology Other Merleau-Ponty Embodiment Intersubjectivity Anxiety World 



I acknowledge the support of the “European Platform for Life Sciences, Mind Sciences, and the Humanities” grant by the Volkswagen Stiftung for the project Narcissus and Echo: Self-Consciousness and the Inter-Subjective Body. Thanks also to Dorothée Legrand and Line Ryberg Ingerslev for their comments on this paper. Additional thanks to the two anonymous reviewers of this paper; their feedback proved immensely helpful.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PhilosophyUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland

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