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Phenomenology of Perception

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  3,247 ratings  ·  60 reviews
First published in 1945, Maurice Merleau-Ponty s monumental Phenomenologie de la perception signalled the arrival of a major new philosophical and intellectual voice in post-war Europe. Breaking with the prevailing picture of existentialism and phenomenology at the time, it has become one of the landmark works of twentieth-century thought. This new translation, the first f ...more
Hardcover, 606 pages
Published November 28th 2011 by Routledge (first published 1945)
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Apio
In some ways this may be the most phenomenal philosophy book that I have ever read. In it, Merleau-Ponty attempts to present a description of how human beings perceive the world in which they live. He is often surprisingly successful. The evidence for me came in a startling manner. While reading the section about perceiving the body, I had an experience for which I have no words, but that perhaps comes closest to what certain mystics would call enlightenment. But it was a completely bodily enlig ...more
Joshua Stein
Merleau-Ponty is, for me, the best writer in phenomenology since Husserl, who created the damned thing. While Phenomenology of Perception is clearly a product of its time, and the available psychology, the amount of interesting work that Merleau-Ponty is able to do in what is essentially proto-cognitive science is very impressive. His work is carried forward in the writing of Alva Noë and others, and I do think that the ways that Merleau-Ponty gets updated and the ways that he more-or-less stays ...more
Andrew
From what I comprehended of the Phenomenology of Perception, it is a stunning, absolutely stunning work of philosophy-- rigorous and scientific while at the same time very aware of the limits of human knowledge, radical without devolving into cant, deeply humanistic, and, unsurprisingly, exceptionally perceptive.

For Merleau-Ponty novices: our minds are nested within our bodies which are nested within the world, and any attempts to reduce the world to an "idealist" or "materialist" conception rel
...more
Joe
Edit: the Colin Smith translation is pretty awful (but free online!); do the Donald Landes one instead if you can; but if you can't, the most important thing to know about the Smith is that you are missing a distinction between "body image," which is an imagetic representation of one's own body at the level of reflective thought or imagination, and "body schema," which the pre-imagetic, non-representational operant structure of a body in action without thought. Smith's translation is also incon ...more
Lance


First, I must admit it took me many months to read this book. Frankly, I can only handle one chapter at time. But like many such books, the work pays off as one slowly reflects on the slow, detailed exposition of a philosophy. In some ways, I see this book as a sequel to Schopenhauer's World of Will and Representation (a book that takes even longer to read). Merleau-Ponty takes the world of representation -- or perception -- and deeply explores how consciousness arises, not as a thing itself, b
...more
Ann Michael
Not an easy read, but a thought-provoking book. Merleau-Ponty essentially sets forth reasons to rethink philosophy's approaches in an age of science and psychology; not a call to end philosophy or render it irrelevant, though. He suggests that philosophy as a discipline can become MORE relevant if philosophers admit of phenomena and look to the ontology of being as an aspect of phenomena. He's not a reductionist; though he is often classed with the existentialists, he's not that, either. Nor wou ...more
Gizem Kendik
ve yani abi size bikaç sene verdim belki bizi şu bedene bağlı sınırlamalardan kurtarırsınız diye. hollywood bilkmkurgularından öteye taşıyamadınız. hala bedenime ve yeteneklerime bağlıyım, seçtirtmediniz ki raftan beğendiğimi alayım. ayrıca kan, kemik, damar falan seviyorum. alakasız. Atın artık goodreadsten beni atın. selamlar merleau ponty.
Carlo
This should required reading for humans. and robots.
Feliks
All that I could have asked for or desired. Immediate 5-star rating. Just an astounding book. Electrifying. Makes you want to race around the room and scramble up the walls like a lab mouse on stimulants. You suddenly realize that so much of the topics we typically concern ourselves with never deal with how specifically we even perceive them. The internal world, the external world...how can anything be discussed unless we all better understand the process of perception in the first place? We've ...more
Mr.
"What is phenomenology? It may seem strange that this question has still to be asked half a century after the first works of Husserl" So says Merleau-Ponty in the opening pages of `Phenomenology of Perception,' perhaps the major work of phenomenology after `Being and Time.' Merleau-Ponty sought, rather brilliantly, to redirect attention to the human body as the locus of our being-in-the-world for phenomenological inquiry. Unfortunately, I am convinced that Merleau-Ponty's efforts to turn the res ...more
Kevin
Sep 08, 2007 Kevin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in deep, intricate philosophy, phenomenology and psychology
This book may not interest the casual reader and involves wading through (and re-reading) dense and nuanced arguments, but for those who are curious about phenomenology or alternative approaches to psychology from the "black box" input-output processing model typified by behaviorism, this is a book well worth spending some time with. Merleau-Ponty challenges the bifurcation of immanence and transcendence the emerged out of the Cartesian-Newtonian paradigm, such as the subject-object or mind-body ...more
Charlie

I haven't time to find the exact quote but somewhere in this book Merleau-Ponty - or 'Merleau-Ponty-Ponty' as I have affectionately come to think of him - states that all the best writers never read what they have written, he then goes on to do his very best at disproving this theory. But to be fair there is some really great stuff in this book: once you get past the first couple of hundred pages and get to the chapters on space and temporality this book works as a thoroughly absorbing meditatio
...more
Carl
Along with Heidegger, Sartre, Beauvoir, and Levinas, Merleau-Ponty is an "existential phenomenologist": a philosopher concerned with the experiences that constitute human existence. He's often overlooked in favor of Heidegger or Sartre, but this is unfair; his analysis of human embodiment not only build on theirs, but go much, much further.

Phenomenology of Perception is concerned with the first-person experience of being embodied, or of having a body. Merleau-Ponty shows how basic features of hu
...more
Linus Ragnhage
This work is - together with Nietzsche's "Beyond Good and Evil" and Heidegger's "Being and Time" - a perfect cure for anyone who has overdosed on abstract thinking. Its message has yet to be heard by a wider audience and is bound to gain new appreciation as the currently dominant mode of thinking begins to falter. A thorough background in philosophy might be required to understand much of what Merleau-Ponty writes, but, then again, if you have not already spent a substantial amount of time in th ...more
Otto Lehto
[N.B. This review is based on only reading about 1/2 of the book. This could, and undoubtedly necessary will, cloud my judgment. So take my conclusions with a grain of salt. But, in fact, I believe this is the sort of book where you DO NOT have to read every sentence and chapter.]

Merleau-Ponty's classic text is a mixture of old and new.

It carries heavy traces of Husserl and Heidegger in it. And of course Sartre.

Historically, it follows in the footsteps of Descartes, Kant, Berkeley, Spinoza, Ber
...more
Jessica Zu
MP is such a wonderful read. I strongly recommend this to all those who feel sth missing in Science and God.
Lesliemae
Coming to Merleau-Ponty through Heidegger was a kind if shock to my system. I was not prepared for the deeply rational language of MP's study. Still, he brought to Heidegger's inherence, or being-in-the-world a very full-"embodied" discussion of our indissoluble link to that world via our own bodies. In most respects, MP's conception of being-in-the-world follows Heidegger's original, yet there are three starkly divergent thoughts I can identify from a first read:
1. Merleau-Ponty wanted phenomen
...more
Ralowe Ampu
the ends is the means, "your abode is your act itself. your act is you," on the last page in an excerpt from the wwii memoir of antoine de saint-exupery. i mean i guess i feel better with that notion. kinda. wahhh. so doing is one with undoing: how can such a coexistent notion resist complacency? not trying to hate on hippies. especially after here having them afford me such fertile ground for tranquility. such blissful writing here. up the hippie talk, definitely, even with the potentially psyc ...more
Dr. A
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Read this and reviews of other classics in Western Philosophy on the History page of www.BestPhilosophyBooks.org (a thinkPhilosophy Production).
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Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception represents a new direction in the movement of transcendental phenomenology inaugurated by Edmund Husserl’s Cartesian Meditiations and Martin Heidegger’s existential phenomenology in Being and Time.

The motto of phenomenology is “to the things themselves,” a call for a return to (human) experience
...more
David
Hey, I love phenomenology. Being no true geek in this area doesn't keep dopes like me from willingly getting bogged down in a thought life I've only dreamed of.
Nahed.E
فينومينولوجيا الإدراك عند الفيلسوف الوجودي مير لو بونتي
هذا الرجل الذي تأثر بسارتر كثيراً
ومن يقرأ هذا الكتاب سيعرف إلي أي درجة كانت فكرة الجسد عند ميرلوبونتي هي الفكرة نفسها التي وردت عند سارتر في مسرحيته الجلسة سرية
قيمته بــ 3 نجمات فقط ربما لأسلوبه الجاف قليلاً
Kelli Ewing
Earth shattering. Life changing. Beautiful.
Beluosus
Quand je lis, j'ai l'habitude d'indiquer les passages qui me frappent avec un morceau de papier (jamais je n'écorne les pages !). Dans un bon roman, je veux retrouver les extraits les plus éloquents, les plus émouvants. Pour un oeuvre d'histoire ou de philosophie, je marque tous ce qui mérite l'étude plus approfondie. Lorsque j'ai achevé la lecture d'un(e) philosophe, une véritable forêt pousse dans les pages.

J'en ai lu 200 pages ; je n'ai marqué qu'une seule page -- et ça pour une note de bas d
...more
Robyn
Finally finished this thing! No insightful comments at this time, but this two-month reading experience was a good one. Reading phenomenology is especially good in a variety of settings, mindsets, fevers, loud rooms...

Anyone who's having trouble don't put it down. It's not really that hard to read, it just might take a while. Philosophy is metabolized slowly. (And poo poo to the reviewer who said she "read it in a few hours." A novel can be read and enjoyed in a matter of hours, but not this.)
Mark
Just now and here, I realized that I have to re-read this for my dissertation. The first time was in Texas dating Miss Jr. TX, being a dandy in the high-concept clubs, trying to think too much and too fast, swimming through pools (with towering waterfalls) full of hot tan flesh covered in exotic oils. But I do remember “The body is our general medium for having a world" took place in my body before the sensual intellect of here and now took place in my mind. At the time.
Phil Hoyeck
This is how philosophy needs to be written: careful, scientific, and impossibly rigorous, yet boldly original and very exciting.

Examining the medical and psychological data of his day, Merleau-Ponty carefully navigates between the prejudices of the rationalist and empiricist traditions, exposing their weaknesses and turning to lived experience to uncover the worldly and embodied nature of human being-in-the-world.

Cara
Here, friends, have a little philosophy from my list of favorites... This book is both profound and extremely accessible / readable / not 'full-of-itself' (like guattari). Read it in a span of a few hours, add a bit of Plato's "Theaetetus" for good measure. If you're architecturally minded, also add Steven Holl's "Phenomenology of Perception" to the mix. If this isn't good chemistry, I don't know what chemistry is.
Anna
Collection of essays on different forms of expression - from gestures to a word. Merleau - Ponty uses methods from different of science and humanities, especially biology, psychology or linguistics. According to the philosopher the most important expression in human disposition is the expression of word. All essays shows the general form of new conception of theory of culture - original idea of the philosopher.
Jem
Maurice Merleau-Ponty's "Phenomenology of Perception" attempts - as Hubert Dreyfus says - to reclaim the role of the body in intelligent behavior; that is to say, your body is an essential component in cognition. A new translation by Donald Landes has just been released and this might help put a finer grain to Merleau-Ponty's ideas since the translator himself specializes in Merleau-Ponty's philosophy!
Sean Billy
I picked up this book to get a better understanding on phenomenology after learning about it's applications in architecture. It's a big volume and I chose to read excerpts here and there that peaked my interest and were relevant to architecture. Very interesting although you have to pick up philosophy/psychology lingo along the way. I'll be picking it back up here and there from now.
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Maurice Merleau-Ponty (pronounced [mɔʁis mɛʁlopɔ̃ti] in French; March 14, 1908 – May 3, 1961) was a French phenomenological philosopher, strongly influenced by Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger in addition to being closely associated with Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. At the core of Merleau-Ponty's philosophy is a sustained argument for the foundational role that perception plays in u ...more
More about Maurice Merleau-Ponty...
The Visible and the Invisible The Primacy of Perception: And Other Essays on Phenomenological Psychology, the Philosophy of Art, History and Politics The World of Perception L'Œil et l'Esprit Sense and Non-Sense

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“The body is our general medium for having a world.” 52 likes
“The perception of other people and the intersubjective world is problematic only for adults. The child lives in a world which he unhesitatingly believes accessible to all around him. He has no awares of himself or of others as private subjectives, nor does he suspect that all of us, himself included, are limited to one certain point of view of the world. That is why he subjects neither his thoughts, in which he believes as they present themselves, to any sort of criticism. He has no knowledge of points of view. For him men are empty heads turned towards one single, self-evident world where everything takes place, even dreams, which are, he thinks, in his room, and even thinking, since it is not distinct from words.” 25 likes
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