This article offers an overview of the structure and significance of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology. Neither a psychological nor an epistemological theory, Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception is instead an attempt to describe perceptual experience as we experience it. Although he was influenced heavily by Husserl, Heidegger, and Gestalt psychology, his work departs significantly from all three. Particularly original is his account of our bodily, precognitive experience of other persons, which he argues is essentially more primitive than any belief or doubt we can (...) raise concerning the contents or even the existence of their minds. I conclude with a discussion of the differences between Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology and Alva Noë's more recent 'enactive' theory of perception. (shrink)
Dennett’s eliminativist theory of consciousness rests on an implausible reduction of sensory seeming to cognitive judgment. The “heterophenomenological” testimony to which he appeals in urging that reduction poses no threat to phenomenology, but merely demonstrates the conceptual indeterminacy of small-scale sensory appearances. Phenomenological description is difficult, but the difficulty does not warrant Dennett’s neo-Cartesian claim that there is no such thing as seeming at all as distinct from judging.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty was described by Paul Ricoeur as "the greatest of the French phenomenologists." The new essays in this volume examine the full scope of Merleau-Ponty's philosophy, from his central and abiding concern with the nature of perception and the bodily constitution of intentionality to his reflections on science, nature, art, history, and politics. The authors explore the historical origins and context of his thought as well as its continuing relevance to contemporary work in phenomenology, philosophy of mind, cognitive science, (...) biology, art criticism and political and social theory. (shrink)
Richard Moran's Authority and Estrangement offers a subtle and innovative account of self-knowledge that lifts the problem out of the narrow confines of epistemology and into the broader context of practical reasoning and moral psychology. Moran argues convincingly that fundamental self/other asymmetries are essential to our concept of persons. Moreover, the first- and the third-person points of view are systematically interconnected, so that the expression or avowal of one's attitudes constitutes a substantive form of self-knowledge. But while Moran's argument is (...) wide-ranging and compelling, he relies throughout on an overly intellectualized conception of first-person attitudes as attitudes of reflection or deliberation. That conception is at once implausible and unnecessary to the main current of his argument, whose goal is to demonstrate that our self-conception as persons depends on both the distinctness and the interconnectedness of our first- and third-person perspectives on ourselves. (shrink)
This book offers a new interpretation of Heidegger's major work, Being and Time. Unlike those who view Heidegger as an idealist, Taylor Carman argues that Heidegger is best understood as a realist. Amongst the distinctive features of the book are an interpretation explicitly oriented within a Kantian framework (often taken for granted in readings of Heidegger) and an analysis of Dasein in relation to recent theories of intentionality, notably those of Dennett and Searle. Rigorous, jargon-free and deftly argued this book (...) will be necessary reading for all serious students of Heidegger. (shrink)
The terminological boxes into which we press the history of philosophy often obscure deep and important differences among major figures supposedly belonging to a single school of thought. One such disparity within the phenomenological movement, often overlooked but by no means invisible, separates Merleau-Pontys Phenomenology of Perception from the Husserlian program that initially inspired it. For Merleau-Pontys phenomenology amounts to a radical, if discreet, departure not only from Husserls theory of intentionality generally, but more specifically from his account of the (...) intentional constitution of the body and its role in perceptual experience. (shrink)
The central question in Heidegger's philosophy, early and late, is that concerning the meaning of being. Recently, some have suggested that Heidegger himself interprets being to mean presence (Anwesen, Anwesenheit, Praesenz), citing as evidence lectures dating from the 1920s to the 1960s. I argue, on the contrary, that Heidegger regards the equation between being and presence as the hallmark of metaphysical thinking, and that it only ever appears in his texts as a gloss on the philosophical tradition, not as an (...) expression of his own ontological commitments. In his early work Heidegger seeks to confront and even correct the traditional interpretation of being by challenging its narrow preoccupation with presence and the present. By the 1930s, however, he abandons the idea that there is anything to?be intrinsically right or wrong about with regard to the meaning of being and turns his attention instead to what he calls ?appropriation? (Ereignis) or the truth of being, that is, the essentially ahistorical condition for the possibility of all historically contingent interpretations of being, including the metaphysical interpretation of being as presence. (shrink)
Frederick Olafson criticizes Hubert Dreyfus’s interpretation of BEING AND TIME on a number of points, including the meaning of being, the nature of intentionality, and especially the role of das Man in Heidegger’s account of social existence. But on the whole Olafson’s critique is unconvincing because it rests on an implausible account of presence and perceptual intuition in Heidegger’s early philosophy, and because Olafson maintains an overly individuated notion of Dasein and consequently a one-sided conception of the role of das (...) Man. Unfortunately, since Dreyfus confines his commentary exclusively to Division I, he in effect forgoes any attempt to explain how das Man might be understood as playing the simultaneously constitutive and destructive role Heidegger evidently envisioned for it. I conclude by arguing that the conformity and the conformism represented by das Man are bound together by Heidegger’s notion of standoffishness (Abständigkeit). (shrink)