The Self as “perpetual absence” (Merleau-Ponty)

No particular thought reaches to the heart of our thought, nor is any thought conceivable without another possible thought that witnesses it.  And this is not an imperfection from which we could imagine consciousness freed.  If there really is to be consciousness, if something is to appear to someone, then an enclave [alt. tr.: a retreat of non-being], or a Self, must be carved out behind all of our particular thoughts.  I do not have to reduce myself to a series of “consciousnesses,” and each of these consciousnesses, along with the historical sedimentations and the sensible implications with which it is filled, must be presented to a perpetual absence.

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, tr. Landes (Routledge, 2012), 421.

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