The Phenomenology of Perception
The Phenomenology of Perception

Maurice Merleau-Ponty is my worst enemy. This is the cover of the newest edition of his book, The Phenomenology of Perception. It is terrible.

I tried to read the Preface, first and fourth chapters for class last week. I read them, read them again, downloaded some articles on them from the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, and even checked out Wikipedia. I still don’t get it.

I went to class, and on the way there, the instructor for my first class, Bioethics Theory, was talking to me, trying to explain what’s going on. I went to the seminar, which was a class discussion, in which the professors didn’t participate. I felt a little better, because at the end, one of the other students asked what the motivation behind Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological project was. That’s philosopher-speak for, “Why on earth did he write this terrible book?”

If the Preface were submitted to me as an essay by one of my third-year students in the class for which I am a TA, I would fail him. He does not define his terms. He does not give a clear thesis. He rambles. I do not like phenomenology.

I spoke to the prof afterward, asking for some help, and she indicated that it’s normal to feel totally confused. That didn’t make me feel much better. I’ll have another go this week. I don’t have a choice. Maybe it won’t be as bad.

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The Grey Literature

This is the personal blog of Benjamin Gregory Carlisle PhD. Queer; Academic; Queer academic. "I'm the research fairy, here to make your academic problems disappear!"

3 thoughts on “Merleau-Ponty”

  1. Good thing the youngest-ever Chair of Philosophy at the Collège de France was not enrolled in the class for which you are TA!

    “worst enemy”! them’s fightin’ words!

  2. Maybe if he would learn to write, he could have been the youngest-ever chair of philosophy at a university that didn’t put up with incomprehensible nonsense. :P

    After some closer examination of his work over these past few weeks, I will begrudgingly admit that I now believe there to be something of value in the philosophy that Merleau-Ponty describes in his book. That said, I stand by my assessment of Merleau-Ponty’s writing style. It is terrible. Just because you have a good idea, doesn’t mean you should be able to get away with communicating in an unclear way. I still give him an F.

    Oh, and I realise that them’s fightin’ words. I will fight Merleau-Ponty, if I ever meet him.

  3. maybe you’ll in the great OK corral in the sweet hereafter for a shootout. he died, as you know, quite young.
    i’m glad to hear you’ve softened on the ole man, tho. and i quite admit that he does not express himself very clearly.
    i think the collège de france isn’t really a university; it’s like the french national all-star team, i think.
    see you soon.

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