Saturday, March 31, 2012

Merleau-Ponty and James (and Nietzsche of course)

In our discussions in class, I’ve been relating pragmatism to perspectivism and I did the same thing with Merleau-Ponty but in reverse. I know that Ponty isn’t strictly perspectivism (after all, this section is entitled “What is Phenomenology”, not “What is Perspectivism”), but much of his discussion reminds me of perspectivism, particularly this: “All my knowledge of the world, even my scientific knowledge, is gained from me own particular point of view, or from some experience of the world without which the symbols of science would be meaningless” (277).

Within the first paragraph of this reading, I found a quick connection back to James and pragmatism. Ponty says, “[phenomenology] tries to give a direct description of our experience as it is, without taking account of its psychological origin and the casual explanations which the scientist, the historian, or the sociologist may be able to provide” (276). We discussed James and pragmatism and what I got from that discussion is almost exactly was Ponty is saying—that we should analyze things in how they relate to us and our experiences with them. We should not analyze things simply from a scientific point of view because really, that means nothing if it has little to do with us and something’s effect on us.

Also, since I keep bringing Nietzsche up in class, I figured I might as well here too. I found a particular sentence that reminded me strongly on Nietzsche and his views on perspectivism and what perspectivism does. Ponty writes that, “to seek the essence of perception is to declare that perception is, not presumed true, but defined as access to truth” (282). Nietzsche wrote that perspectivism eliminated any kind of objective truth to begin with, but perspectivism stood as a constant invitation to discussing and a search for something close to an objective truth. I believe Ponty is declaring the same thing in calling perception “access to truth”.

1 comment:

  1. There does seem to be a direct connection between James and Merleau-Ponty. My question is what exactly is the difference between pragmatism and phenomenology? At first I thought they were the same thing, but I'm sure there are differences. Perhaps we discussed it in class but I forgot over the break.