Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Thomas J. Nenon
Sarah Clark Miller
Merleau-Ponty is typically known for his account of embodiment or what it means to be a body. In the dissertation, Iargue that what Merleau-Ponty means by a body has not been adequately understood because the framework in which it must be understood is either ignored or inadequately interpreted. My central interpretive thesis is that Merleau-Ponty's notion of a body must be understood within a transcendental framework. To substantiate the central interpretive thesis, in Chapter 1, I examine Merleau-Ponty's proposal for a post-Kantian transcendental philosophy with which The Structure of Behavior ends. I maintain that at the basis of this proposal is what Merleau-Ponty calls the Hegelian "problem of perception," or the problem of knowing how individual organisms can integrate their own historical emergence. In Chapter 2, Ithen show that in the Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty offers "radical reflection" as a new transcendental method to solve this problem of perception. The method is transcendental because it seeks to understand the genesis of its own operations. Iclaim that in radical reflection lies a response to the problem of perception because it reveals temporality as the transcendental condition par excellencethat explains the historical emergence or genesis of individual organisms. With the transcendental framework provided in Chapters 1 and 2, in Chapter 3, I turn to interpret Merleau-Ponty's notion of a body within such a framework. Iargue that Merleau-Ponty offers a novel theory of what it means to be a body where the body the reduced neither to a collection of biological or material organs nor to a first-person lived experience perspective, but is fundamentally understood as a transcendental structure that generates time in the sense of a synthesis in transition. The dissertation concludes by suggesting that Merleau-Ponty's post-Kantian transcendental philosophy is a philosophy that describes the phenomenon of the real, which is historical genesis. Overall, a transcendental realing of Merleau-Ponty is meant to serve both as a plausible interpretation of the Phenomenology of Perception and as a defensible theory of what it means to be a body (i.e. embodied).
dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Memon, Arsalan, "The Problem of Perception, Radical Reflection, and The Body: Towards Understanding Merleau-Ponty's Post-Kantian Transcendental Philosophy" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 511.