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Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Philosophy, Phenomenology

at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Course Details
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Online Classroom
Class Level: Beginner
Age Requirements: 21 and older
Average Class Size: 14
System Requirements:

You will need a reliable Internet connection as well as a computer or device with which you can access your virtual class. We recommend you arrive to class 5-10 minutes early to ensure you're able to set up your device and connection.

Class Delivery:

Classes will be held via Zoom.

Flexible Reschedule Policy: This provider has flexible, free rescheduling for any-in person workshop. Please see the cancellation policy for more details

What you'll learn in this lecture class:

Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Philosophy, Phenomenology, and the Body

To perceive means to have a body, which in turn means inhabiting an already significant world. We don’t—on a fundamental level—think the world, but rather live in it. So argues French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, who stands with Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and Jean-Paul Sartre as one of the greatest and most influential proponents of Phenomenology, the 20th-century philosophical movement that sought to uncover the structures of immediate, lived experience from a first person perspective rather than the detached, third personal perspective of both scientific and ordinary discourse.

Radically expanding on Heidegger’s key notion that human existence is a being-in-the-world (Inderweltsein), Merleau-Ponty believed that the structure of such “worldedness” (Être au monde) was grounded in embodiment: Perception and intentionality are not essentially processes of representation, but rather ways of engaging the world via the medium of bodily skills and dispositions. The body, as Merleau-Ponty claims, brings existence “into being and actualizes it.” But, what’s at stake in arguing for a philosophy of the body—for (usually opposed) notions of subjectivity and objectivity, for the nature of knowledge, for sexuality ? How can we understand the experience of being in the world?

In this course, we will read Merleau-Ponty’s classic The Phenomenology of Perception, interrogating its concepts of sensation, the phenomenal field, the experience of motility, expression and sexuality, and the nature of space, temporality and freedom. Along the way, we’ll be concerned with Merleau-Ponty’s relation to the phenomenological tradition in general, as well as its philosophical antecedents in Descartes, Kant, and Hegel, among others; and examine phenomenology as a living philosophy for contemporary life. How are Merleau-Ponty’s ideas—on the body, perception, and experience–used and developed today, in philosophy and beyond?

Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

Upon registration, the instructor will send along additional information about how to log-on and participate in the class.

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Refund Policy

Upon request, we will refund the entire cost of a class up until 1 week before its start date. Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to a 75% refund. After the first class: 50%. After the second: 25%. No refunds will be given after the third class.

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Reviews of Classes at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research (28)

School: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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