Phenomenology of Perception
Introduction by Claude Lefort
Foreword by Taylor Carman
Translated by Donald A Landes
Routledge – 2012 – 696 pages
First published in 1945, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s monumental Phénoménologie 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 for over fifty years, makes this classic work of philosophy available to a new generation of readers.
Phenomenology of Perception stands in the great phenomenological tradition of Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre. Yet Merleau-Ponty’s contribution is decisive, as he brings this tradition and other philosophical predecessors, particularly Descartes and Kant, to confront a neglected dimension of our experience: the lived body and the phenomenal world. Charting a bold course between the reductionism of science on the one hand and "intellectualism" on the other, Merleau-Ponty argues that we should regard the body not as a mere biological or physical unit, but as the body which structures one’s situation and experience within the world.
Merleau-Ponty enriches his classic work with engaging studies of famous cases in the history of psychology and neurology as well as phenomena that continue to draw our attention, such as phantom limb syndrome, synaesthesia, and hallucination. This new translation includes many helpful features such as the reintroduction of Merleau-Ponty’s discursive Table of Contents as subtitles into the body of the text, a comprehensive Translator’s Introduction to its main themes, essential notes explaining key terms of translation, an extensive Index, and an important updating of Merleau-Ponty’s references to now available English translations.
Also included is a new foreword by Taylor Carman and an introduction to Merleau-Pontyby Claude Lefort.
Translated by Donald A. Landes.
"… Donald A. Landes’ rendering of Merleau-Ponty’s magnum opus is a welcome arrival for both the student and the scholar, especially in the light of the renewed and well-warranted interest in that thinker’s work over the last two decades. … As someone who has given a course on Phenomenology of Perception for several years, I will recommend this book to my future students with enthusiasm." - Timothy Mooney, International Journal of Philosophical Studies
"This new translation, which is accurate, sensitive and eloquent, will, I hope, enable the reader to better deal with the inaccuracy, opacity and rigidity which are part of any perception and of any text." - Eran Dorfman, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"This is an extraordinary accomplishment that will doubtless produce new readers for the remarkable philosophy of Merleau-Ponty. This excellent translation opens up a new set of understandings of what Merleau-Ponty meant in his descriptions of the body, psychology, and the field of perception, and in this way promises to alter the horizon of Merleau-Ponty studies in the English language. The extensive index, the thoughtful annotation, and the guidance given about key problems of translation not only show us the richness of Merleau-Ponty's language, but track the emergence of a new philosophical vocabulary. This translation gives us the text anew and will doubtless spur thoughtful new readings in English." - Judith Butler, University of California - Berkeley, USA
"This lucid and compelling new translation not only brings one of the great breakthrough books in phenomenology back to life – it gives to it an entirely new life. Readers will here find original insights on perception and the lived body that will change forever their understanding of themselves and the world they inhabit." - Edward S. Casey, Stony Brook University, USA
"This book is not to be read as a contribution to a school of philosophy (called Phenomenology), but as one of the classical works of philosophy in the Western tradition, essential reading for any school. I love it partly for the incredibly rich diet of examples, both personal and scientific, described in such a way as to make you rethink every aspect of human life and experience. The new translation and its appendices enrich the understanding - and enjoyment - of today's reader." - Ian Hacking, Collège de France, France
"Landes' excellent translation preserves the fluidity and subtlety of Merleau-Ponty's philosophical prose. Phenomenology of Perception is finally available in an English-language edition fully adequate for the purposes of scholarship, and which allows the reader to appreciate with accuracy the distinctive patterns and movements of Merleau-Ponty's thought." - Sebastian Gardner, University College London, UK
"It is impossible to define an object in cutting it off from the subject through which and for which it is an object; and the subject reveals itself only through the objects in which it is engaged. Such an affirmation only makes the content of naive experience explicit, but it is rich in consequences. Only in taking it as a basis will one succeed in building an ethics to which man can totally and sincerely adhere. It is therefore of extreme importance to establish it solidly and to give back to man this childish audacity that years of verbal submission have taken away: the audacity to say: "I am here." This is why The Phenomenology of Perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty is not only a remarkable specialist work but a book that is of interest to the whole of man and to every man; the human condition is at stake in this book." - Simone de Beauvoir, 1945
Foreword, Taylor Carman Introduction, Claude Lefort Preface Introduction: Classical Prejudices and the Return to Phenomena I. Sensation II. Association and the Projection of Memories III. Attention and Judgment IV. The Phenomenal Field Part 1: The Body 1. The Body as an Object and Mechanistic Physiology 2. The Experience of the Body and Classical Psychology 3. The Spatiality of the One’s Own Body and Motility 4. The Synthesis of One’s Own Body 5. The Body as a Sexed Being 6. Speech and the Body as Expression Part 2: The Perceived World 7. Sensing 8. Space 9. The Thing and the Natural World 10. Others and the Human World Part 3: Being-For-Itself and Being-In-The-World 11. The Cogito 12. Temporality 13. Freedom Original BibliographyBibliography of English Translations cited Additional Work Cited Index
Maurice Merleau-Ponty was born in 1908 in Rochefort-sur-Mer, France. Drawn to philosophy from a young age, Merleau-Ponty would go on to study alongside Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Simone Weil at the famous École Normale Supérieure. He completed a Docteur ès lettres based on two dissertations, La structure du comportement (1942) and Phénoménologie de la perception (1945). After a brief post at the University of Lyon, Merleau-Ponty returned to Paris in 1949 when he was awarded the Chair of Psychology and Pedagogy at the Sorbonne. In 1952 he became the youngest philosopher ever appointed to the prestigious Chair of Philosophy at the Collège de France. He died suddenly of a stroke in 1961 aged fifty-three, at the height of his career. He is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.