A Quest for Meaning: Merleau-Ponty's Concept of Perception and Intersubjectivity

Topics: Meaning of life, Perception, Edmund Husserl Pages: 10 (3679 words) Published: April 24, 2013
Man is a constant quest for meaning. Man has been searching for a long time for the purpose of his very self. The question on how to discover a meaningful existence is a responsibility of man for him to know the direction and purpose of life. Man desires to know the philosophical view of life that implies a related set of ideas about the ideal human existence. Wondering it with curiosity, man differs from the reference of existence to a realization that the life of man is not easy for comprehension. Being surrounded by suspicions, man is able to find out that life is basically a question of meaning. In the course of the history of philosophy, man is confronted by the problem concerning his nature and meaning. The question on the nature of man continues to confuse the great minds of philosophers. Moreover man’s quest for meaning offers a description, a way of existence in the world towards the recognition of intersubjectivity in relation to the nature of individual finitude. In this regard, man should validate the act that will determine existence, and so includes the self-fulfillment towards a meaningful life. The integration of philosophy into man‘s life experience finds an analogous meaning of existence. Man needs philosophy to be in contact with the world, his experience and his being; a philosophy which seeks to put forward a general philosophical understanding of the existence of man in the world. . In the book Quest for Meaning it was noted that “everyone desires to know and understand the world as one experiences it.”

This paper exposes the contributions of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of intersubjectivity that enable insights to the human problems offered in the relation of the self and the world. This goal of this paper is to arrive at the development of man through dealing with the question of the meaning of existence. For this reason, the development of man is envisioned in a way of learning. “In learning how to see, we learn how to be, how to be something other than what we were when we remained blind to the new way of seeing that gives us access to the origin.”

Merleau-Ponty offers an understanding of the meaning of man’s existence in the world. In this regard, he introduces the understanding of phenomenology of perception to address the problem of man concerning his nature and meaning. Merleau-Ponty describes “the word perception as that which indicates a direction rather than a primitive function.” This pertains to the direction in knowing the ability to recognize the self in relation to the world. For instance, everyone in this world is a unique individual, and to understand the nature of perception, one must look at the nature of human beings and see that all have individual personalities. In this aspect, no two individuals have totally the same view of perception. Hence, with perception, each man has a different outlook in life. Melreau-Ponty states that “what our reflexes and perceptions will be able to aim at in the world, the area of our possible operations, the scope of our life.” That is, all perception has the form of ground structures that are perceived in terms of their context.

Merleau-Ponty asserts that man is always in the world of perception. This means that by perception, all perceptual modalities are in an interrelationship. In the same way, perception is seen as an intersubjective process, rooted in the personal relationship of man and his environment which gives birth to both the subject and the object of perception. Merleau-Ponty insists that: “on the level of perceptual behavior there is already a global environment or milieu as a term in a dialectical relationship, correlative to aptitudes (the ability) of the subject.” Perception in this sense is not only an experience of objects, but also a primordial connection with the world. Merleau-Ponty views the contention...
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