For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Phenomenology of Perception

by Merleau-Ponty, Maurice (2012)


Published fifty years after the original translation by Colin Smith, Donald A. Landes' rendering of Merleau-Ponty's magnum opus is a welcome arrival for both the student and the scholar. Phenomenology of Perception (French: Phénoménologie de la perception) is a 1945 book about perception by the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, in which the author expounds his thesis of "the primacy of perception". The work established Merleau-Ponty as the pre-eminent philosopher of the body, and is considered a major statement of French existentialism.

Key Passage

Van Gogh’s painting is forever established in me, a step has been taken that I can never take back, and, even if I hold no precise memories of the paintings that I have seen, my entire aesthetic experience will from then on be that of someone who has known Van Gogh’s paintings, just as a bourgeois who has become a worker remains forever, in his very manner of being a worker, a bourgeois-become-worker, or just as an act defines us forever, even if we have subsequently disavowed it and changed our beliefs. Existence always takes up its past, either by accepting it or by refusing it. (p.454)


Merleau-Ponty, Perception, Phenomenology, French, French Existentialism, Existentialism


Merleau-Ponty Citations

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