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Posts Tagged ‘Maurice Merleau-Ponty’

Merleau-Ponty and Philosophy of Race by Emily S. Lee

In philosophy, society on October 19, 2015 at 02:25

From: Merleau-Ponty and Philosophy of Race by Emily S. Lee, Berfrois, http://www.berfrois.com

Maurice Merleau-Ponty did not write much on race; he only mentioned it once, as far as I know, in his article, “The Child’s Relation with Others”. In these post-colonial times, it is recognized that one of the tools of colonialism is its epistemic hegemony—defining knowledge on the semblance of originating or affiliating with the northwest. Under such circumstances, as a philosopher whose primary research questions focus on race and feminist philosophy, my concentration on the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and weaving his work with the questions concerning race and sex needs some explanation.

Edmund Husserl inaugurated phenomenology: upon recognizing the phenomenal structure of the world, Husserl endeavored to eliminate the ambiguity entailed by the phenomenological structure, and aimed to achieve certainty about the world, following Rene Descartes in prioritizing certainty. But rather than aim for certainty, Merleau-Ponty accepted that being-in-the-world entailed ambiguity. He addressed the phenomenological framework’s epistemic and ontologic consequences. Marrying Husserl’s phenomenology with gestalt theory, Merleau-Ponty acknowledged that the “most basic unit of experience is that of figure-on-a-background,” anything simpler reflects mere mental projections. Human experience of the world cannot reduce experience to solely a unit, a figure, or a totality.[1] The background or horizon in which one is situated, and where one is situated within the horizon, conditions what and how one perceives. Therefore an optimal relation—spatially and temporally–must exist between the theme and its horizon for perception of the theme.[2]

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Reposted with permission from: Berfrois

Merleau-Ponty’s Child Psychology by Talia Welsh

In philosophy, psychology, society on July 12, 2013 at 18:53

From: Merleau-Ponty’s Child Psychology by Talia Welsh, Berfrois, http://www.berfrois.com

As much as death signals the end of the self, birth is just as mysterious. Both extend out to infinity and signal the brevity and contingency of our lives. As mysterious are those first few years of life that one does not have access to as an adult, I know I existed before my earliest memories. I know I interacted with others, I learned to walk and talk. I was willful from my parent’s tales. But this person is as much a mystery to me as the foetus I once was. When does my sense of “me-ness,” my self as a myself, arise? What is its development and what is required for its formation?

Merleau-Ponty argues for a view that holds there are certain existential human conflicts around which all societies will develop norms and systems around. They are the parent-child conflict, the male-female conflict and the self-stranger conflict.[12] Children and parents will always view each other with some ambivalence, and our styles and ideals of childrearing are reflections of these essential struggles. Likewise, negotiating sexual difference (and sexuality, Merleau-Ponty did not consider adult same-sex sexual relationships) will be a centerpiece of social norms and taboos. This removes the idea of individual conflicts as universal (such as the Oedipus conflict) or individual successes and failures being required for maturity (since not all cultures value the same expressions). But it retains the sense that discussions about development will always include some ambivalence in every society given the inherent nature of conflicts between adults and children.

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Reposted with permission from: Berfrois

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