This is Foucault’s major achievement: the conversion of phenomenology into epistemology. For seeing and speaking means knowing [savoir], but we do not see what we speak about, nor do we speak about what we see; and when we see a pipe we shall always say (in one way or another): ‘this is not a pipe’, as though intentionality denied itself, and collapsed into itself. Everything is knowledge, and this is the first reason why there is no ‘savage experience’: there is nothing beneath or prior to knowledge. But knowledge is irreducibly double, since it involves speaking and seeing, language and light, which is the reason why there is no intentionality.
But it is here that everything begins, because for its part phenomenology, in order to cast off the psychologism and naturalism that continued to burden it, itself surpassed intentionality as the relation between consciousness and its object (being [l’étant or Seiende]). And in Heidegger, and then in Merleau-Ponty, the surpassing of intentionality tended towards Being [l’Etre or Sein], the fold of Being. From intentionality to the fold, from being to Being, from phenomenology to ontology. Heidegger’s disciples taught us to what extent ontology was inseparable from the fold, since Being was precisely the fold which it made with being; and that the unfolding of Being, as the inaugural gesture of the Greeks, was not the opposite of the fold but the fold itself, the pivotal point of the Open, the unity of the unveiling-veiling. It was still less obvious in what way this folding of Being, the fold of Being and being, replaced intentionality, if only to found it. It was Merleau-Ponty who showed us how a radical, ‘vertical’ visibility was folded into a Self-seeing, and from that point on made possible the horizontal relation between a seeing and a seen.
An Outside, more distant than any exterior, is ‘twisted’, ‘folded’ and ‘doubled’ by an Inside that is deeper than any interior, and alone creates the possibility of the derived relation between the interior and the exterior. It is even this twisting which defines ‘Flesh’, beyond the body proper and its objects. In brief, the intentionality of being is surpassed by the fold of Being, Being as fold (Sartre, on the other hand, remained at the level of intentionality, because he was content to make ‘holes’ in being, without reaching the fold of Being). Intentionality is still generated in a Euclidean space that prevents it from understanding itself, and must be surpassed by another, ‘topological’, space which establishes contact between the Outside and the Inside, the most distant, the most deep.