Re: [xmca] Looking forward by looking back, sort of.

From: Paul Dillon <phd_crit_think who-is-at>
Date: Tue Jul 03 2007 - 19:41:51 PDT

  Perhaps I didn't express myself quite clearly. I didn't mean to imply that Merleau-Ponty identified consciousness with the body but that his phenomenology of the experience of embodiment is doesn't involve the same type of abstractions as found in Sartre and Heidegger. But I admit that I haven't read Merleau-Ponty in a long time and haven't even heard anyone else talk about him for even longer. I'm remembering Merleau-Ponty's comments about Claude Levi-Strauss--the construction of categories out of the concrete, the good to think with, which M-P praised highly. That's the sense I meant, M-P's phenomenological descriptions are so unlike Sartre's in which the for-itself (s aa category for which I can think of no counterpart in M-P's philosopy) encounters a material reality that is ultimately intert. (something he tried to overcome perhaps in the Critique).
  As to Heidegger, it isn't an embodied living agent, a sexual, emotional, and constantly changing agents. that finds itself already thrown into the world, but an abstracted subject, genderless, etc., concerned with it's own existence, but an abstract existence, that he's describing despite the fact that he might be attempting otherwise.
Martin Packer <> wrote:

I'm going to disagree somewhat with your characterizations here. On the one
hand, I don't think Merleau-Ponty "locates the source of consciousness" in
the body. Descartes thought that consciousness was 'in' the body, no?
Merleau-Ponty's project is more radical than that: consciousness is a
structure of behavior - of the body in the world. And in a real sense for
him the body replaces talk of consciousness - certainly any 'constituting'

On the other hand, Heidegger's Dasein is certainly not an "abstracted
experience." Dasein is concrete practical activity, concerned engagement in
a public world of equipment. Heidegger's criticism of Husserl, and indeed of
most of the history of philosophy, was precisely that it had mistakenly
given priority to detached, abstracted experience ('present-at-hand' in
Heidegger's terminology).


On 7/3/07 4:22 PM, "Paul Dillon"

> Martin,
> Thanks for your post on Merleau-Ponty. He was also one of my favorite
> phenomenolgists, one who, unlike Husserl's other well-known disciples, Sartre
> and Heidegger, located the source of the structures of consciousness in a
> living human body and not in an already abstracted experience such as
> "being-for-itself" or Dasein. Perhaps that's the very reason he's not such a
> remembered figure as the others.
> Another phenomenologist who I really appreciated, the father of
> ethnomethodology, Alfred Schutz, also could provide a missing dimension to the
> discussion of the historical dimension of activity. I don't remember his
> precise terms at the moment but he identified three dimensions: the domain of
> all those who lived before anyone we know can remember, the dimension of those
> whom we know and those we know can remember, the dimension of all those who
> will live after anyone we know will live to know.
> Paul
> ---------------------------------
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Received on Tue Jul 3 19:44 PDT 2007

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