The Merleau-Ponty Reader (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy)
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Arranged chronologically, the essays are grouped in three sections corresponding to the major periods of Merleau-Ponty’s work: First, the years prior to his appointment to the Sorbonne in 1949, the early, existentialist period during which he wrote important works on the phenomenology of perception and the primacy of perception; second, the years of his work as professor of child psychology and pedagogy at the Sorbonne, a period especially concerned with language; and finally, his years as chair of modern philosophy at the Collège de France, a time devoted to the articulation of a new ontology and philosophy of nature. The editors, who provide an interpretive introduction, also include previously unpublished working notes found in Merleau-Ponty’s papers after his death. Translations of all selections have been updated and several appear here in English for the first time.
By contextualizing Merleau-Ponty’s writings on the philosophy of art and politics within the overall development of his thought, this volume allows readers to see both the breadth of his contribution to twentieth-century philosophy and the convergence of the various strands of his reflection.
proper location. Until now critical thought seemed to us to be incontestable. It shows marvelously that the problem of perception does not exist for a consciousness which adheres to objects of reflective thought, that is, to meanings. It is subsequently that it seems necessary to leave it. Having in this way referred the antinomy of perception to the order of life, as Descartes says, or to the order of confused thought, one claims to show that it has no consistency there: if perception
Collective consciousness does not produce categories, but neither can one say that collective representations are only the objects of a consciousness which is always free in their regard, only the consciousness in a “we” of an object of consciousness in an “I.” The mental, we have 37 THE RELATIONS OF THE SOUL AND THE BODY PROBLEM OF PERCEPTUAL CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE said,59 is reducible to the structure of behavior. Since this structure is visible from the outside and for the spectator at the
down, then we have no right to demand inductive rigor from it. The psychoanalyst’s hermeneutic musing, which multiplies the communications between us and ourselves, which takes sexuality as the symbol of existence and existence as the symbol of sexuality, and which looks in the past for the sense of the future and in the future for the sense of the past, is better suited than rigorous induction to the circular movement of our lives, where the future rests on the past, the past on the future, and
Pythagoreans said) number. If instead of positing these realities they had already been phenomenologists, do you think they could have created a philosophy? merleau-ponty: This hypothesis is itself impossible. Phenomenology could never have come about before all the other philosophical efforts of the rationalist tradition, or prior to the construction of science. It measures the divergence between our experience and this science. How could it ignore it? How could it precede it? Second, there have
you to agree with them. I would say that in the very formulation of your doctrine you destroy it. If I am exaggerating a little, I beg your pardon. In order to formulate your doctrine of perception you are obliged to say that humans perceive objects, and consequently you are obliged to posit humans and objects separately in the way you speak. There results a fatal contradiction, which you indicate under the name of the contradiction of immanence and transcendence. But this contradiction comes