All seeing is seeing something hum 201 aut 2005

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All seeing is seeing something

  • HUM 201

  • AUT 2005

  • Lecture #3

Maurice Merleau-Ponty

  • Died in 1961, at the time rivaled Sartre as most influential academic

  • Still existential, but much more concerned with matters of perception

  • Perception has to come from a body

  • What does it mean to have a body?

  • What does it mean to see versus to think?

The body in the world

  • “Our own body is in the world as a heart is in the organism: it keeps the visible spectacle constantly alive, it breathes life into it and sustains it inwardly, and with it forms a system.”


  • Emmanuel Kant - 1724-1804

  • Noumenal

    • The thing in itself
  • Phenomenal

    • The thing as it appears
  • Phenomenology-We must start with what we perceive

Edmund Husserl (1859-1938)

  • Intentionality-all mental content directed at an object

  • Phenomenological Reduction

    • What do you see?
    • Why do you see it?
  • Event horizon

    • The perceptual limits that events manifest themselves in
      • Space and time
  • Lifeworld

Husserl’s early phenomenology

  • Transcendental Phenomenology

  • Imagine a cube

    • What of this cube do you see?
  • How do you know it is a cube?

    • Through imaginative engagement
      • You can imagine that the cube has other sides
      • This allows you to constitute the object as transcendent from its surroundings

Husserl on the object

  • “No object is conceivable without there being multiple intentive mental processes . . . processes in which “it,” the object, is attended to as an identical object and yet in an [intellectually intuitive] different mode.” (Husserl, Ideas 1, Section 131)

Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology

  • “If there is, for me a cube with six equal sides, and if I can link up with the object, this is not because I constitute it from the inside: it is because I delve into the thickness of the world by perceptual experience.” 237.

    • You see all sides of the cube because your body moves through space.
    • All perception happens because of a body
    • All perception is also a perception of the body
    • Husserl’s imaginative engagement couldn’t happen without embodied perception.

Uta Barth

  • In between places

Embodied Perception

  • All perception is perception because of and of a body

  • Become aware of the act of perceiving

  • “a certain form of external experience implies and produces a certain consciousness of one’s own body” 239

  • In Passing

The seduction of the invisible

  • Since all perception is embodied it is inherently limited.

  • Thus the world presents us with a visible aspect

  • It also implies an invisible aspect to the world as well

  • We perceive the cube as more than meets the eye

  • This invisible calls us (seduces us) into a deeper relationship with the world.

Rediscover the world, rediscover the self

  • “we shall need to reawaken our experience of the world as it appears to us in so far as we perceive the world through our body, and in so far we perceive the world with our body. But by this remaking contact with the body and the world, we shall also rediscover ourself, since, perceiving as we do with our body, the body is a natural self and, is it were, the subject of perception.” 239

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