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

I am situated socially, and my freedom, even if it has the power to commit me elsewhere, does not have the power to turn me immediately into what I decide to be. Thus, being bourgeois or a worker is not merely being conscious of so being, it is to give myself the value of a worker or a bourgeois through an implicit or existential project that merges with our way of articulating the world and of coexisting with others. My decision takes up a spontaneous sense of my life that it can confirm or deny, but that it cannot annul. (p.473)


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


Merleau-Ponty Citations

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