Maurice Merleau-Ponty


French Phenomenological Philosopher

Author Quotes

The philosopher will ask himself? if the criticism we are now suggesting is not the philosophy which presses to the limit that criticism of false gods which Christianity has introduced into our history.

Thought without language, says Lavelle, would not be a purer thought; it would be no more than the intention to think. And his last book offers a theory of expressiveness which makes of expression not ?a faithful image of an already realized interior being, but the very means by which it is realized.?

The real is coherent and probable because it is real, not real because it is coherent...

To tell the truth, there are cracks in this construction right from the start. Simone de Beauvoir points out some of them: the book starts with a sacrifice on the part of Francoise.

The relationship between perception and scientific knowledge is one of appearance to reality.

True reflection presents me to myself not as idle and inaccessible subjectivity, but as identical with my presence in the world and to others, as I am now realizing it: I am all that I see, I am an intersubjective field, not despite my body and historical situation, but, on the contrary, by being this body and this situation, and through them, all the rest.

The sensate body possesses an art of interrogating the sensible according to its own wishes, an inspired exegesis

Truth does not inhabit only the inner man, or more accurately, there is no inner man; man is in the world, and only in the world does he know himself.

The thing can never be separated from someone who perceives it; nor can it ever actually be in itself because its articulations are the very ones of our existence, and because it is posited at the end of a gaze or at the conclusion of a sensory exploration that invests it with humanity. To taking up or the achievement by us of an alien intention or inversely the accomplishment beyond our perceptual powers and as a coupling of our body wit the things.

We are nothing but a view of the world.

The unity of the object will remain a mystery for as long as we think of its various qualities (its color and taste, for example) as just so many data belonging to the entirely distinct worlds of sight, smell, touch and so on. Yet modern psychology, following Goethe?s lead, has observed that, rather than being absolutely separate, each of these qualities has an affective meaning, which establishes a correspondence between it and the qualities associated with the other senses.

We have discovered that it is impossible, in this world, to separate things from their way of appearing.

The work of a great novelist always rests on two or three philosophical ideas. For Stendhal, these are the notions of the Ego and Liberty; for Balzac, the mystery of history as the appearance of a meaning in chance events; for Proust, the way the past is involved in the present and the presence of times gone by. The function of the novelist is not to state these ideas thematically but to make them exist for us in the way that things exist. Stendhal's role is not to hold forth on subjectivity; it is enough that he make it present.

We must therefore rediscover, after the natural world, the social world, not as an object or sum of objects, but as a permanent field or dimension of existence.

The world is already constituted, but also never completely constituted; in the first case we are acted upon, in the second we are open to an infinite number of possibilities... There is, therefore, never determinism and never absolute choice, I am never a thing and never bare consciousness.

We pass from double vision to the single object, not through an inspection of the mind, but when the two eyes cease to function each on its own account and are used as a single organ by one single gaze. It is not the epistemological subject who brings about the synthesis, but the body.

The world is nothing but 'world-as-meaning.'

When I say that I have senses and that they give me access to the world, I am not the victim of some muddle... I merely express this truth which forces itself upon reflection taken as a whole: that I am able, being connatural with the world, to discover a sense in certain aspects of being without having myself endowed them with it through any constituting operation.

The world of perception consists not just of all natural objects but also of paintings, pieces of music, books and all that the Germans call the ?world of culture?.

When Sartre wrote that every work of art expresses a stand about the problems of human life (including political life ) , and when he recently tried to rediscover the vital decision through which Baudelaire arrived at the themes of his suffering and his poetry, the same Uneasiness or anger was apparent, this time among eminent authors.

Then, as now, the way we experience works of cinema will be through perception.

Whereas Catholic critics accuse Sartre of materialism, a Marxist like H. Lefebvre comes close to reproaching him with residual idealism.

Theology recognizes the contingency of human existence only to derive it from a necessary being, that is, to remove it. Theology makes use of philosophical wonder only for the purpose of motivating an affirmation which ends it. Philosophy, on the other hand, arouses us to what is problematic in our own existence and in that of the world, to such a point that we shall never be cured of searching for a solution.

Yet I cannot detach someone from their silhouette, the tone of their voice and its accent. Another person, for us, is a spirit which haunts a body and we seem to see a whole host of possibilities contained within this body when it appears before when it appears before us; the body is the very presence of these possibilities.

There is a perpetual uneasiness in the state of being conscious. At the moment I perceive a thing, I feel that it was there before me, outside my field of vision.

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French Phenomenological Philosopher