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Martin Andrews


This paper is an explication of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's major contribution to the study of phenomenology. The author himself considered his work to be a victory of the Cartesian dualism that separated mind and body. Merleau-Ponty's work begins with an asking of the question "What is phenomenology," and responds "a coming of being into consciousness." For Merleau-Ponty all consciousness is consciousness of something, and this something is restricted to the world and what I experience through my bodily being. Merleau-Ponty sustains a lengthy critique of empiricism and intellectualism, the former relating our experience of the world to an agglomeration of what comes through the senses and gets stored in memory, and the latter maintaining the existence of a constituting consciousness that is able to structure the world according to what it already possesses. Merleau-Ponty rejects both traditional philosophies by placing in abeyance all prior conceptions and returning to a direct, dialectical experience (via sensing, space, sexuality, and expression) of the world and other people.

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