Faces and the Invisible of the Visible: Toward an Animal Ontology

DAVID MORRIS

Abstract


This paper studies the role of faces in animal life to gain insight into Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, especially his later ontology. The relation between animal faces and moving, animal bodies involves a peculiar, expressive logic. This logic echoes the physiognomic structure of perception that Merleau-Ponty detects in his earlier philosophy, and exemplifies and clarifies a logic elemental to his later ontology, especially to his concept of an invisible that is of (endogenous to) the visible. The question why the logic of the face can manifest this analogy or homology with the logic of perception and ontology is treated through a study of embryology, which suggests that the logic of the face ramifies a deeper logic of being. Methodologically, the face is taken as something like a lens into the onto-logic of being. This lens suggests that what underlies Merleau-Ponty’s later ontology is a logic of animality.

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