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Incarnated Meaning and the Notion of Gestalt in Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4883-8262
2015 (English)In: Chiasmi International, ISSN 1637-6757, E-ISSN 2155-6415, Vol. 17, 53-75 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Although it is well known that Gestalt theory had an important impact on Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy throughout his career, there is still no detailed study either of its influence on his ideas or of his own understanding of the notoriously polysemic notion of Gestalt. Yet, this notion is a key to Merleau-Ponty’s fundamental project of overcoming “objective thought” and its inherent dichotomies. By indicating how signification or ideality can be immanent in, rather than opposed to, matter, it compels us to redefine both consciousness and the world it is bound up with. The aim of this article is to clarify Merleau-Ponty’s notion of Gestalt against the historical background that he refers to, including Kurt Goldstein’s theory of the organism that was crucial for his interpretation of it.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 17, 53-75 p.
Keyword [en]
Merleau-Ponty, phenomenology, Kurt Goldstein, Gestalt theory, ontology, corporeal schema
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Theoretical Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-113275DOI: 10.5840/chiasmi20151710OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-113275DiVA: diva2:783763
Available from: 2015-01-27 Created: 2015-01-27 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Recasting Objective Thought: The Venture of Expression in Merleau-Ponty’s Philosophy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Recasting Objective Thought: The Venture of Expression in Merleau-Ponty’s Philosophy
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is about meaning, expression and language in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, and their role in the phenomenological project as a whole. For Merleau-Ponty, expression is the taking up of a meaning given either in perception or in already acquired forms of expression, thereby repeating, transforming or congealing meaning into gestures, utterances, artworks, ideas or theories. Contrary to the predominant view in the literature, the relation of expression to meaning, and in particular the problem of expressing new meanings, was of fundamental importance to Merleau-Ponty from the very beginning, in that it was intrinsically related to the overcoming of what he termed “objective thought”. Admittedly, there is an evolution of his philosophy in this respect: from the early stance where the recasting of certain basic categories is taken as pivotal for the development of a new form of thinking, with arguments drawn also from various empirical and social sciences, to what appears to be an effort at an all-pervading reformulation of philosophical language during his last years. But the remoulding of categories was never for Merleau-Ponty a matter simply of finding a few, better adapted concepts, but from the outset an endeavour to think philosophical arguments through to a point where they reveal their inherent inconsistencies. Recasting philosophical expression is thus a risky enterprise, and this is a point I explore further in Essay 1, that focuses especially upon creative expression in painting and to some extent in literature. In Essay 2 I discuss the notion of Gestalt and how it serves this general project, whereas Essay 3 deals with verbal language, on the basis of Merleau-Ponty’s reading of Saussure’s linguistics. Essay 4 examines bodily expression from the point of view of feminist phenomenology and in particular Judith Butler’s early reading of Merleau-Ponty, and finally Essay 5 discusses expression in the art of dance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University, 2015. 211 p.
Keyword
Merleau-Ponty, Saussure, Butler, phenomenology, expression, language, perception, painting, Gestalt theory, linguistics, feminist phenomenology, dance
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Theoretical Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-113278 (URN)978-91-7649-095-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-02-28, D7, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Accepted. Paper 5: Accepted.

Available from: 2015-02-05 Created: 2015-01-27 Last updated: 2016-04-22Bibliographically approved

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