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Submitted to the Undergraduate of

St. Anthony Mary Claret College


In Partial fulfillment

Of the Requirements for the Degree

Bachelor of Arts

Major in Philosophy


Ronnie Ledesma Pedroso Jr.

September 2017

A. Background of the Study 1

B. Statement of the Problem ..

C. Significance of the Study

D. Objectives of the Study ..

E. Scope and Limitation ..

F. Review of Literature and Related Studies

G. Conceptual Framework .

H. Definition of Terms

I. Methodology ....

J. Division of Thesis .

A. Background of the study:

The researcher is curious about the identity of tattooed person and inquire on the reasons

why people ink their body permanently and what could be the purpose of having a tattoo? Some

people would say that you are destroying your body, others say it is self-expression. There are

also some who get tattoos as a symbol of their identity which is permanently inked on their

bodies. For them, their tattoos identifies who they are. This Phenomenology of tattoo has

numerous implications such as psychological, sociological, and religious.

The researcher is convinced that man reveals himself through his bodily being.

Accordingly, it is the existential subject or the conscious being who alone can be embodied and

gives meaning to the world. Mans body is not just the body but the expression of the whole


The researcher finds some importance of having tattoo on the body. His research on

tattoo presents various meanings. It is somehow subjective, why people choose to get tattoos in

relation to the stories behind the images they select. For some people, their faith journey is part

of the story they want to express on their bodies. These are some examples and testimonies

related to the matter:

Andrew William Smith a Presbyterian ruling elder, college instructor at Tennessee

Technological University and Vanderbilt Divinity School graduate got a tattoo of the PC (USA)

seal on his left bicep. His tattoos symbolizes his return to the Christian faith. Moreover the tattoo

on his arms is more spiritual than sociological, and the evolution of his religious journey gets

narrated on his skin.

Kurt Esslinger, a mission co-worker for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in South Korea and co-

coordinator of a Young Adult Volunteer site there, chose the tree of life as his tattoo. It spoke to

his spiritual understanding that everything is connected, life and death, the secular and the


Tony Pyrzakowski has a tiger tattoo with a lot of symbolism attached.

The tiger is a symbol of power, but also reminds him how these beautiful creatures need to be

protected. As a wildlife artist he had previously painted these animals and grew to love them.

Nowadays the meaning of the tattoo is not like before that they really value more the

tattoo as the center of the belongingness. The researcher realize that having a tattoo is more

complex than just putting an indelible print on the body.

In this research, the researcher found the importance of applying the embodied

phenomenology of Merleau Ponty, and persuaded about the essence of tattoo. All of these things

have inspired the researcher to study the notion of how tattoo is appropriated in light of Merleau

Pontys Phenomenology.

Main Question:

How is a Tattooed Body Identified in light of Merleau Pontys Phenomenology?

B. Statement of the Problem:

The purpose of this study is to provide explication and reasoning by using Merleau Pontys

Phenomenology of the body about the body-object and the body-subject. The researcher will

apply these two as a foundation to understand the body tattoo.

In order to realize the purpose of this study, the following questions are formulated:

1. What is Merleau Pontys Phenomenology of the human body?

2. How can a tattooed body account for identification?

3. How can Merleau Pontys embodied phenomenology illumine on a tattooed identity?

C. Significance of the Study

Such study is significant to the Following:

This research will provide a nuanced account of having a tattooed body and how Merleau

Pontys Phenomenology can provide illumination. Such a research is a call to challenge everyone

to articulate their own personal views, thoughts, conclusion, and stand so as to contribute

extensive and realistic deliberations.

This research is significant not only for the Phenomenology of tattoo printing but also to

contribute studied on Merleau Pontys Phenomenology. This is why this study is timely and

effective today. There have been numerous opinions, discussions, and deliberation on this topic.

The researchers study to a Tattooed Body in light of Merleau Pontys Phenomenology is

significant to the church, in the sense that the researcher intends to show the value of our bodies

Within a specific cultural context and invites others to change the prejudices related to tattooed

bodies which are commonly labeled as gangster-identification.

The Embodied Phenomenology is one of the good foundation in Philosophy.

Furthermore, Merleau Pontys Phenomenology can be the base to explicate the notion of the

Tattooed identity

The study is also significant to the researchers life by helping him to realize that part of

his formation is to express his thoughts and idea. Then, this articulation about Tattooed body is

to find out and give philosophical contribution to some researches about the experience of the

people who consider the Tattoo as part of their identity and beliefs.
D. Objectives of the Study

The Embodied Phenomenology of Merleau Ponty is essential to enlighten the

understanding of the Tattooed Identity.

In this research study, the author aims to:

1. Discuss and elaborate Merleau Pontys Phenomenology of human body

2. To study the tattooed body identity

3. Apply Merleau Pontys embodied Phenomenology on a tattoo identity in order to be

E. Scope and Limitations

The researcher will have a Thematic discussion on tattoo and he will use some

commentaries about the Phenomenology oh human body of Merleau Ponty as a foundation to

collaborate the notion of tattoo and its purpose. The researcher then reinforces some values in

every chapter on how to understand the meaning of tattoo and also to apply the different point of

view of the artist and the people who decided to ink their bodies permanently.
F. Review of Literature and Related Studies

Necessary and appropriate writings were used by the researcher in order to accomplish

the extensive study about the Understanding the Tattooed body. Books about tattoo and journals

were basically the sources of the fundamental ideas of this study.

Buchanan, Fip. Drawing & designing tattoo art. Cincinnati, OH: Impact, 2014.
G. Conceptual Framework

In Phenomenology of human body there is a body-object and the body subject. The body

object- you see your body as separate from yourself, that it is not an essential attribute of your

identity. The body-subject- you dont look at your body as alien\ distinct from yourself. It is an

integral aspect of who you are as human person.

For Merleau Pontys Phenomenology, the concept of the human subject is a body, in that

if we adopt the view that the world is somehow constituted as an object by and for the subject, it

must recognize also that this subject is itself a certain kind of body.

If the tattoo is considered as simply a body ornament, then it cannot be part of the body

itself, and consequently, cannot be identified with the self. So tattoo is extrinsic to the essence of

the self, meaning it cannot define of who really you are. Tattoo is just accidental to the body/self.

It does not add, subtract to the essence of the body/self. Conversely in placing the tattoo in the

body well not make you more human.

On the other hand if tattoo is not just simply Ornament but it has a purpose and integral

part to the ethnic and so on. Then it will validate to the body subject that it is integral aspect of

who you are as a human person.

The main objective of this part of the thesis is to give more understanding and

explanation about the significance and the purpose of the tattoo.

H. Definition of Terms

Insofar as this study is concerned the following technical terms are defined accordingly:

Tattoo - is a form of body modification where a design is made by inserting ink, dyes and

pigments, either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment.

Human Body-The body in philosophy: Philosophers believe the body as any material object is

with our perception. Its basic properties are the size, mass and impenetrability.

Phenomenologists distinguish the human body, called body-subject, because it is related to


Identification-identity, is the relation each thing bears only to itself.

Nuanced-characterized by subtle shades of meaning or expression.

Thematic having or relating to subjects or a particular subject.

Enlightened- To enlighten someone means to explain something clearly to him.

Enlighten comes from the metaphor that ignorance is a state of being "in the dark," and that

knowledge is illuminating.

Illumine- enlighten (someone) spiritually or intellectually.

Indelible- making marks that cannot be removed. Not able to be forgotten or removed.
I. Methodology

The Methodology used in this research is Library research. The researcher made use of

the pertinent books, journal articles, critique and commentaries related to the subject, and

electronic books available on the online libraries on the internet.

The researcher also used the materials coming from libraries of St. Anthony Mary Claret

College (Cenacle Drive, Quezon City) and Ateneo de Manila University (Loyola, Quezon City).

The researcher made use also of the available resources in the libraries of the congregation where

he belongs namely, St. Francis Xavier Seminary Library (Project. 8, Quezon City).

In the study, the researcher focuses on the Phenomenology of Merleau Ponty about the

body- object and body-subject as a foundation to understand the notion and the significance of

tattooed body. Personal reflection and opinions of the researcher have been undertaken to

supplement this study.

J. Division of Thesis

To effectively clarify and discuss the tattooed body among Filipino Indigenous People

and Merleau Pontys Phenomenology of the body.

The researcher established (5) main division associated to five fundamental chapters:

The first chapter, which serves us the introduction of the whole thesis presents the

background study, statement of the problem, significance of the study, objectives of the study,

scope and limitation of the study, review of literature and related studies, conceptual framework,

definition of terms, division of the whole thesis.

The second chapter will focus on presenting the significance of the tattooed body and the

explication of Merleau Ponty on the body. Then the chapter will also present the notion of the

body as body-object and the body- subject.

In chapter three, some People who value the tattoo as part of their identity and beliefs

will be discussed. It will includes the symbol that they are using for their tattoos.

The chapter (4) will serve as the presentation of Merleau Pontys Phenomenology of

human body on how the body-object and the body-subject illumine the tattooed body.

The last chapter will recapitulate the entire study. The main purpose of the chapter is to

supply and to underline the thesis statement. This chapter includes the summary, conclusion and

recommendation. It will also cover the relevance of the thesis, to the researcher himself and his

congregation. Areas for further research will also mentioned.

Working Bibliography

Spicker, Stuart F. Philosophy and Phenomenology of the body. 12 East Deleware, Chicago:
Stuart F. Spicker, 1970.

Michael Henry, and Girard Etzkorn. Philosophy and Phenomenology of the Body. Hague,
Netherlands: Martinus Nihoff, 1975.



Mary Rose Barral. "Merleau- Ponty on the body." The Southern Journal of Philosophy 7, no. 2
(1969): 171-79

Maurice- Ponty, and Alden L. Fisher. Structure of Behavior. Press Pittsburgh: Duquesne
University, 1963.

JOSEPHINE LIVINGSTONE. "A new book dissects the meanings of tattoo cultures." What
Your Tattoo Says About the World. Accessed November 5, 2015.