Merleau-Ponty’s conception of the body as a field of structuralisation and its ontological significance

Filosoficky Casopis 63 (2):175-196 (2015)
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Merleau-Ponty’s analyses of the pathology of perception show “objective” and “subjective” events have sense for the living body only in relation to its whole equilibrium, that is, to how it organises itself overall and how it thus “meets” those events. If we apply this conception to Husserl’s example of two mutually-touching hands of one body we must then state not that we perceive here a coincidence of certain subjective sensations with certain objective qualities, but rather that my body, in the sense of an object, results from the restructuralisation of the whole field of the body accomplished by the the body as the performer of perceptual intentions. The body-object, and for the same reasons also the body-subject, is therefore the product of the analysis of the body in the sense of a field of structuralisation or polarisation, not its original phenomenological “stratum”, as in Husserl. If the body understands itself as perceptible only by a change of its own structure, inasmuch as it is a certain field of structuralisation, then the "external” thing, which is likewise a pole of such grasping, must belong to the same ontological “field” as the body. Merleau-Ponty’s “flesh”, that is the circularity between questioning of perception and answering of the perceived, is thus a phenomenon appearing beyond the boundary of the body as a singular being. This fact allows the concept of flesh to be extended and to be understood as an “element”, that is, as a dimension in which individual beings appear. [In Czech language.]
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