Touching Ground


  • Mladen Dolar


The paper takes up the problem of tactility, the sense of touch, as a philosophical problem largely neglected by the philosophical tradition. It tries to show how touch immediately raises some basic philosphical concepts, the notion of inner/outer, subject/object, of difference, of the ways to conceive the limit, of appearance/the thing itself, the basic problem of counting (it takes two to touch), etc. It analyses the classical text on touching by Aristotle in De anima, trying to show how the notion of the limit necessarily becomes complicated the moment one tries to grasp it. Then it pits the Aristotelian notion of flesh as the medium of touch against the modern conception of flesh in Merleau-Ponty, arguing that Merleau-Ponty tries to strategically circumvent the notion of the difference, the lack and the cut. Finally it considers the way that Freud, in Totem and Taboo, posits the prohibition on touching as the elementary social injunction instituting the social, thus posing a concept of touch with coincides with the cut in which 'the object touch' emerges. From there it procedes to an account of the analytic situation which is based on the prohibition of touch (as well as severing all other senses) in combination with the injunction to speech, thus establishing a framework for a reinvention of touch in a paradoxical, roundabout way.


Download data is not yet available.




How to Cite

Dolar, M. (2008). Touching Ground. Filozofski Vestnik, 29(2). Retrieved from



Radicalizing the Senses