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Bringing to light the essential philosophical role of Marxism within Merleau-Ponty's reinterpretation of transcendental phenomenology, this book shows that the realization of this project hinges methodologically upon a renewed conception of the proletariat qua universal class-specifically, that it rests upon a humanist myth of incarnation which, substantiated by Merleau-Ponty's notion of 'heroism', locates an objective historical purposiveness in the habituated organism of the modern subject. Foregrounding the phenomenological priority of history over corporeality in this way, Smyth's analysis recovers the 'militant' character of Merleau-Ponty's existential phenomenology. It thus sheds critical new light on his early thought, and challenges some of the main parameters of existing scholarship by disclosing the intrinsic normativity of his basic methodological commitments.