Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1902-1961)
was a Frech existentialist who attempts to explain the mind body relationship
and neither completely holistic or dualistic. Merleau-Ponty
believed that the "lived body" was not that much different than the
consciousness, hence man is characterized as an embodied consciousness.
He states that the body is who he is, "being a body".
Merleau-Ponty's views are important in the study of kinesiology for our understanding of what physical activity means to us. The two common views that exist seem to be an eastern view of holism (a unity of mind and body), where physical activity is for growth of the whole being, and the other is dualism (proposing a separation of the mind and body), which in the westernized society physical activity would be to manifest the power and idolization of the body. Merleau-Ponty's attempts to describe the body as a way of knowing ourselves through the world, through the "lived situation". Physical activity would then become a way of learning about yourself, your body and your mind.
This site gives a short summary of who Merleau-Ponty was and his works.
Merleau-Ponty's view of perception with an excerpt from Primacy of Perception, and a comparison to other popular philosophers of the time. This site also gives a chronology of his life and a list of works.
A biography of Merleau-Ponty.
Discussion of Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception
An on-line discussion of the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty. People give their views on his theories and touch on some interesting topics, such as movement and the body.
Bodies and Ecological Subjectivities: Merleau-Ponty’s Corrective to Postmodernism’s
“Subjects” of Education (http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/PES/95_docs/o'loughlin.html)
Marjorie O'Loughlin tackles Merleau-Ponty's vies from a feminist perspective.
Content and its Study; Whole Cognizers, Phenomenology, and Artificial Life
In the mist of a thorough study of whole cognizes, phenomenology, and Alife, a strong summary of Merleau-Ponty's
views on the mind/body relationship, embodiment, and the experience.
Current Relevance of Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Embodiment
Hubert Dreyfus, a professor at the University of California-Berkley, attempts to explain the relevance of Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Embodiment in today's society.
Confronts Postmodernism: A Reply to O’Loughlin (http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/EPS/PES-Yearbook/95_docs/popen.html)
A contrast of their views of Merleau-Ponty and Marjorie O'Loughlin in body-subject and gender issues.
Katharena Eiermann gives a biography of Merleau-Ponty and a description of his works. She also lists recommended
readings and hot web links.
A complete overview of the life and philosophy of Merleau-Ponty abstracted from Fifth Key Contemporary Thinkers
by John Lechte.
Return to class readings page: Kinesiology 493: Philosophy of Kinesiology