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2009 | 37 | 1 | 31-46
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DOGMATIC AND CRITICAL THEMES IN MAURICE MERLEAU-PONTY'S 'PHENOMENOLOGY OF PERCEPTION' (Motywy - dogmatyczny i krytyczny w 'Fenomenologii percepcji' Maurice Merleau-Ponty'ego)

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The aim of the theory of experience presented in the 'Phenomenology of Perception' was to overcome the traditional difficulties of empiricism and intellectualism by showing their common ground, primordial perception. The starting point made it possible to take into account the genesis of these contrary positions. The analysis of world experienced by a bodily subject led to the conditions of existence of a free and conscious subject and, correlatively, its experienced world. The intentionality of the body proper proved to be so constitutive for conscious being in the world that the consequences of its disintegration, as examples of pathology and experiments had shown, meant breaking up the unity of the experienced and inter-subjective world, as well as of the conscious subject. The intentionality of the body gained the status of a basis of experience, a source and criterion of every type of knowledge. The body proper as capacity of sensing, perceiving, pointing, speaking, expressing, etc. took the place of transcendental consciousness. Merleau-Ponty dismissed the cogito. The author calls this 'transcendentalism a rebours'. But in some fragments of the 'Phenomenology of Perception' Merleau-Ponty did not take for granted the primacy of the intentionality of the body. His next works would confirm this change. The relationship between man and the world is not given along with the nature of the body. It is only one aspect of human existence. Language, history, and culture permeate the level of perception from the very beginning and determine the process of becoming a free and conscious subject. In the 'Phenomenology of Perception' there are, then, two motives, that of primordial perceiving as the guarantee of all sense and that of giving sense with no basis in a ready pattern. The article shows examples of the relationship between perception and cognition and between the subject of perception and the conscious subject, illustrating how the two motives are interwoven.
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  • Marek Maciejczak, Uniwersytet Kardynala Stefana Wyszynskiego, Katedra Teorii Poznania, ul.Dewajtis 5, 01-815 Warszawa, Poland
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