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Lecture

Merleau-Ponty

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 2170
Professor
Samantha Copeland
Semester
Winter

Description
Friday, February 11, 2011 De Beauvoir: authentic intimacy is between two autonomous, free individuals Scruton: authentic intimacy is between two gendered individuals. Two individuals who exist in a culture; within the context of a culture. Situated. A tie between conventions and physical being. That tie keeps gender in the fundamental activities of human nature. Merleau-Ponty: sexuality makes our world meaningful. Phenomenology. We project ourselves into the world and make it meaningful, we make it erotic and sexual. “The introduction of sex into desire is not without the most far-reaching consequences. In particular it introduces an element of universality into the object of desire. He or she is desired as a man or as a woman and it is from this thought that much of the phenomenology of desires arises… (Scruton, 76) • Embody external things. Embodies – use casually (ex. Embodies the French artist). • Gender is something I take in, but something I also represent • For Scruton, these values are external values out in the world that we bring in the body • Merleau-Ponty reverses this Merleau-Ponty Let us try to see how a thing or a being begins to exist for us through desire of love… (154) • Desire/love - a particular way of feeling. When I feel desire, this is what that is • Things begin to exist for me as certain kinds of objects It is the very structure of perception or erotic experience which has undergone change in Schneider. In the case of the normal subject, a body is not perceived merely as any object… But for Schneider a woman’s body has no particular essence… (156) • Using Schneider for what the general human experience is • One way to find this out is by looking at people with pathologies and disorders; seeing what’s different from their experience and what we experience • Schneider has no interest in sex; not something that he cares about • If sex were a bodily thing, nothing would change for Schneider. It’s not a purely mental thing either; something in between body and mind • Scruton says features of genders are something we look for in the world; MP says because of our personalities we make them in to objects of desire. Schneider misses the part of the brain that produces eroticism Perception has lost its erotic structure, both spatially and temporally. What has disappeared from the patient is his power of projecting before himself a sexual world, of putting himself in an erotic situation (156) • Schneider can’t put himself in a situation where he feels eroticized Erotic perception is not a cogitatio (action) which aims at a cogitatum (an idea) through one body it aims at another body, and takes place in the world, not in a consciousness (157) • Aims at another physical body so I get a reaction to that thing in the world I see • Takes place in the world, not the consciousness; not an ideal that we think up and put into action • As we step in the world, we experience certain aspects There is an erotic ‘comprehension’ not of the order of understanding, since understanding subsumes an experience, once perceived, under some idea, while desire comprehends blindly by linking body to body (157) • Wants to distinguish between understanding and erotic comprehension • When I understand something (ex. A hot stove – I understand it’s hot because I can associate it with other hot things); erotic comprehension – a way of being (not taking things in and categorizing. Experiencing them every time I take them in) • Blindly – don’t know what category, just know the experience …The world is emotionally neutral (157) • Different from Scruton (who thinks gender is something we take part in) • MP stays more individualistic – none of the meaning that sexuality gives us comes from the world itself • Meaning is human – the way we perceive something. But it’s not in itself …Like all significances, this one exists only for someone (158) • Signs only exist for humans; things which have meaning only exist for humans (ex. For a mouse a piece of cheese is only food; no other meaning. For humans it might mean culture, a memory from childhood, etc.) • Only when someone perceives it In so far as a man’s sexual history provides a key to his life, it is because in his sexuality is projected his manner
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