The Passivity of Institution in Merleau Ponty: Pandemic Thinking

  • Rajiv Kaushik Brock University
Keywords: Implex, Symbolic, Symbolism, Merleau-Ponty, Husserl, Institution, Stiftung, Urstiftung, Passivity, virus, typification


This paper examines the relationship between Merleau-Ponty's lectures on institution and his lectures on passivity. I argue that the relationship depends on Merleau-Ponty's internal critique of institution as outlined in Husserl's ouevre. That is, institution is not only human institution, which rests on temporality and time-consciousness (and so concerns memory, history, culture, etc), but also animal, biological and even virological, which rests on a certain, non-euclidian space of the body.  Merleau-Ponty's focus in the course is animal institution: animal morphology, menstruation, puberty, etc. These are what tie institution and passivity together, and especially the passivity that Merleau-Ponty calls the "symbolic matrix," the touchstone of which is the "implex." While the paper discusses, Merleau-Ponty's critique of Husserl and the consequent understanding of a passivity in institution, it opens the possibility that the virological may be yet another kind of passivity that has instituted a new trajectory in human institution. This is highlighted in the very word "pandemic." 

How to Cite
Kaushik, R. (2022). The Passivity of Institution in Merleau Ponty: Pandemic Thinking. HUMANA.MENTE Journal of Philosophical Studies, 15(41), 177-194. Retrieved from