In order to see the world, we must break our habitual assumptions.June 27, 2021
Our experience is full of puzzles and contradictions.
Our everyday assumptions prevent us from seeing these assumptions and puzzles. We must relearn our everyday assumptions and turn to and look at our experiences. Because in order to see the world, we need to break our habitual assumptions.
The idea that philosophy begins with our ability to wonder about the world goes back to ancient Greece. We usually regard our daily lives as ordinary, but Aristotle argues that if we want to understand the world more deeply, we should set aside our usual assumptions. And undoubtedly the most difficult place to do this is in the world of our experience. After all, what could be more reliable than the facts of direct perception?
The French philosopher Ponty was interested in taking a closer look at our experiences of the world and questioning our everyday assumptions. This has made it a member of the phenomenology tradition pioneered by Edmund Husserl. Husserl wanted to systematically examine first-person experience, leaving aside all assumptions.
Merleau-Ponty adopts Husserl’s approach with one important difference. He thinks that Husserl ignores the most important fact about our experience that it consists of bodily experience, not just mental. In his most important book, The Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty examines this idea; He concludes that mind and body are not separate entities—contrary to an ancient philosophical tradition advocated primarily by Descartes. According to Merleau-Ponty, we need to see that thought and perception encompass, that they are parts of a system. And the alternative to the cymbal separate from the one advocated by Descartes is what he calls the body-subject. Merleau-Ponty rejects the dualist view that the world consists of two separate entities, mind and matter.
Because he is interested in seeing the world in a new way, Merleau-Ponty is also interested in cases of unusual experience. For example, he believes that the phenomenon of the “ghost leg” (where the amputated leg is “felt” in place) shows that the body is not simply a machine. If it were, the body would not continue to recognize the missing leg; but for the subject there is still a leg, because the leg has always been bound by the will of the subject. In other words, the body is never “just” the body; has always been a “living” body.
Merleau-Ponty’s focus on the role of the body in experience and his insights into the nature of the originally formed mind have caused his work to gain renewed interest among cognitive scientists. Recent advances in cognitive science confirm his view that if we build our habitual understanding of the world, experience can be very strange indeed.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook