PRAEFATIOThis essay deals with the phenomenological approach as given birth to by Merleau-Ponty, an approach toperception ...
LOST IN THE LABYRINTH OF INCARNATIONS             Traveling without Moving: Dis-covering Space by Re-opening the Doors of ...
explaining Hyperreality as the process of perceiving or understanding phenomena according toobjectifications of those phen...
“Der unendliche Raum ist das Ideal, welches die Abendlandische Seele immer in ihrer Umwelt gesucht hat”.(1917, I:227).‘Der...
assumed to be quite challenging to abandon the usual, the internalized (the hyperreal) and to turn back to theoriginal, th...
entering in. Weber speaks of modern society in relation to this tendency of disenchantment, however onecould argue this te...
explains as ‘the relation of reason to fact, eternity to time, reflection to the unreflective, thought tolanguage/percepti...
an act of speaking itself into the ‘world.’ And in the sound the silence can be grasped: they are inseparable.This insepar...
or in fact a way-in: a way to dive into the Nature of both, the almond, where two circles come together andbecome transcen...
stressed less tightly than the intentional arc of an ‘healthy’ actor. This parallels a lack of physiognomy in aworld, a we...
intentionality of Schneider and a ‘regular’ actor in general. Turning back to the discussed impoverishment ofspace in West...
Sloterdijk’s vision clearly shows the hyperreal blanket of created objectifications (or dispositions) becomingtoo thick de...
BIBLIOGRAPHYBanes, S. (Winter 1990), ‘Will the Real Please Stand Up? An Introduction to the Issue’, The MIT Press –Massach...
|Lost in the Labyrinth of Incarnations - Traveling without Moving: Dis-covering Space by Reopening the Doors of Perception
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|Lost in the Labyrinth of Incarnations - Traveling without Moving: Dis-covering Space by Reopening the Doors of Perception

  1. 1. PRAEFATIOThis essay deals with the phenomenological approach as given birth to by Merleau-Ponty, an approach toperception attempting to be an unprejudiced as possible by detaching from individual one-sidedness,coincidental habits and conditionality in a broad sense of understanding by turning back to the ‘Lifeworld’,turning back to a ‘pure’ form of consciousness, the possibility condition of all knowledge and all that can beknown: the transcendental consciousness. Because consciousness is incarnated, connected to a body in theworld, Merleau-Ponty speaks of être-au-monde, being intentionally directed to the world and being-in-this-world and for this reason neither a ‘complete’ overview nor a ‘complete’ clarity can be obtained. Contrary,absolute truth and absolute untruth do not exist for sense and non-sense always go hand in hand with eachother. Existence and the world are ambiguous and therefore one should be aware of the temporality ofphilosophy and its insights and expressions1. This is valid as well for the objectifications and statementscreated in this essay, they are written down against a particular horizon in time belonging to a particularintentional being-in-the-world and therefore one should not become attached neither taking them as truthnor untruth. Just let them pass by as clouds in the sky, enjoy them floating, coloring the sky differently at everymoment, while going further with one’s existential journey.“When is a work complete? Not complete in the sense of being sufficient in and of itself, but rather, how do I finallycome to leave a work as it is when I can always go further, I can always view it differently, when there is always asurplus of the unsaid over the said? These are the kind of thoughts which seem to be necessary in the face ofambiguous embodiment”.. - Merleau-Ponty – | Eline Bochem | Bachelor Thesis Philosophy | University of Amsterdam | Dr. T.M.T. Coolen | 2011 |1 From: (Merleau-Ponty, 2009:14,16).
  2. 2. LOST IN THE LABYRINTH OF INCARNATIONS Traveling without Moving: Dis-covering Space by Re-opening the Doors of Perception .."Expressing what exists is an endless task2.."‘Are the phenomena in the human sphere not becoming incomprehensible because of their methodicalobjectification’? Having this question in mind, it is the French philosopher Merleau-Ponty, who opens thephenomenological doors of perception back in 1945 arguing it is Humanities constructing existencegenerating fragmented and synthetic visions ‘closing’ in fact the openness for the world of phenomena. Hecriticizes the rationalistic and empiricist approach to perception current in Humanities by showing theirdeficiencies paving the path towards the phenomenological approach in which both are transcended.Questioning the tendency of fragmentation as is nourished by an ongoing methodical objectification of thephenomena within science, it seems fragmented and synthetic visions of phenomena dominating in thehuman sphere are not only produced within this field, but also in everyday life. Merleau-Ponty’s critique onHumanities could therefore extended to contemporary Western postmodern informational society3 in generalcharacterized by expanding information technologies enlarging the capacity to share objectifications andthereby enlarging the opportunity to get confronted with these objectifications created. Objectifications ofphenomena in the human sphere, reconstructs and therefore covers them with a ‘hyperreal blanket’ ofmeaning. A blanket, for it is the objectification of phenomena meandering into one’s own and other’s being-in-the-world shaping new perceptions of these phenomena again objectified. An ongoing process of creatingblankets over blankets by which the ‘Eidos’ of the phenomena, that what is the entrance to that what isessential to it, gets muddled and by which the blankets themselves are carrying the risk to be taken as more‘real’ than the phenomena themselves. A potential of ‘hyperreal’ dominance as formulated by Baudrillard2 A quote by Merleau-Ponty (2009). Nevertheless it was Nicolaas van Cusa (Cusanus), who advocated the infiniteness ofthe world first for in an infinite world it would become possible for an infinite God to reveil Himself in this worldimmediately. By thinking the world to be of infinite nature, this world herself could be considered to be the space of God’sunfolding of Self (Lemaire, 2010:84).3 Informational society: a term by Manuel Castells, which he perceives as the successor of the modern industrial society,relatively ordered and driven by organized forces such as labor, modes of production and vertical relations of statushierarchies. Within the informational society disorganization, fragmentation, blurring of boundaries and horizontalnetwork relations producing in combination with expanding technologies an overflow of concepts, ideas, theories andmodes. This would cause an acceleration of the pace of life (1996).
  3. 3. explaining Hyperreality as the process of perceiving or understanding phenomena according toobjectifications of those phenomena instead of describing them in a way as much as unprejudiced or ‘open’-minded possible4. Since objectifying – or signifying – phenomena then immediately involves objectificationsconstructed by others, the ‘openness’ regarding these phenomena will be ‘muddled’ for the more they getobjectified and shared, the more incomprehensible, insecure, synthetic and fragmented they become causingwhat Baudrillard formulates a certain ‘death of phenomena5’, a death one can understand as an impossibilityto perceive the Eidos of the phenomena when one places it in line with Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenologicalthought of a rising incomprehensibility of the phenomena in the human sphere. Baudrillard argues, that whena system (society) reaches its limits, its own ‘saturation point’, a reversal begins, for the actor remains ‘trapped’in himself perceiving phenomena now fully covered by all created blankets, disclosing openness. This is theperiod of ‘implosion’, effect from periods of explosion and expansion for the more objectifications are created,the less ‘real’ they become referring less and less to the Eidos of phenomena. In view of this argumentation,Baudrillard perceives contemporary Western informational society to be anchored in all its objectificationsproduced, trapped in its ‘simulations’ for these objectifications do not refer anymore to ‘original’ phenomena,they refer to other objectifications. Therefore, the phenomena have become incomprehensible; their Eidos iscompletely covered. In sum, living in this period of implosion implies to live, to be, in a world of simulations:objectifications of objectifications without ‘original’ referents or phenomena6.Baudrillard’s vision of the hyperreal ‘blanketing’ of the ‘real’ world could therefore be understood as a coveringof the Eidos of phenomena by objectifications derived from them: a tendency of increasing closure of theopenness for the world. An increasing ‘impoverishment of outer space7’, whereby outer space respectivelyrefers to the extent to which the Eidos of a phenomenon is displayed in one’s intentionally being-in-the-world.This essay tries to explore this impoverishment of space and its ‘potential’ to be enriched again by diving intothe phenomenological mindscape of Merleau-Ponty and his thoughts on the actor – the subject-body - being-intentionally-in-the-world for in his Phenomenology of Perception he attempts to drop the openness of anactor’s consciousness towards the world through the intermediary of body characterizing the existentialstructure of an actor as an actor’s being-in-the-world. It is by intentionality only the world can be approached,suggesting different intentionalities are existing, for every actor is intentionally being-in-the-world,approaching the world in different ways hence opening the world of phenomena in different ways. Beforeintentionality will be discussed to a larger extent to explore its potential as a key to influence one’s openness tothe world, first the concept of space will be outlined perceived as one of the primordial expressions of theactor’s intentionally being-in-the-world. It is Oscard Spengler emphasizing that:4 Describing phenomena as much as unprejudiced possible is what Merleau-Ponty formulates as ‘the phenomenologicaldescription’ (2009:13).5 From: (Baudrillard , 1999). Baudrillard speaks about ‘reality’ instead of ‘phenomena’, which is dominant in the thoughtof Merleau-Ponty, nevertheless former seems to imply the same process of objectification and its risks latter questions andbases his phenomenological theory on.6 From: (Banes, 1990, 21).7 Outer space: Although Merleau-Ponty makes no difference in ‘kinds’ of space for he argues it is the subject-body being-in-the-world opening space as such.
  4. 4. “Der unendliche Raum ist das Ideal, welches die Abendlandische Seele immer in ihrer Umwelt gesucht hat”.(1917, I:227).‘Der unendliche Raum’, infinite space, is exactly, what forms the challenge of the subject-body being-in-the-contemporary-Western-informational-world, a world of implosion: a world in which space is reaching itslimits in both physical and mental way almost completely ‘urbanized’ by cultural objects and conceptsconfronting space with its finiteness. Space here could be associated with the potential to perceive the Eidos ofphenomena: impoverishment of space implies a decreasing potential to perceive the Eidos of a phenomenon.Spengler argues that ‘die Abendlandische Seel – The Western Soul - would always be in search for infinitespace in his world (being-in-the-world), thus, following his reasoning, when this space is entering finiteness,the Western soul is entering existential danger zone for troubles are rising if that what exists – the phenomena– are being objectified and these objectifications are becoming hyperreal (as outlined above) becoming visiblein the mentioned urbanization of the landscape and the conceptualization of the mind responsible for anincreasing closure of space as such hindering the ongoing flow of the Ouroboros of existence.It is Merleau-Ponty warning likewise for the absence of absolute truth – the closure of space – when heexpresses that belief in one absolute truth will give birth to violence8. How then to overcome this finiteness ofspace – here the covering of the phenomena by objectifications for one has to overcome since it is one’sexistential nature to search for infinite space as shown by Spengler? It is exactly the phenomenologicalapproach offering a philosophy re-opening the world by expressing the need to turn back to the phenomenathemselves: ‘Zuruck zu den Sachen selbst’9 in order to make phenomena comprehensible again, hence to dis-cover space in one’s being-in-present-day-informational-world this essay attempts to discuss. For if one turnsoneself back to the phenomena, the Ouroboros can ‘flow’ again not being interrupted by ‘fixed’ attachment toobjectifications derived from it for it is exactly this fixed attachment to the objectifications generated,hindering that flow.“We must return to the Lebenswelt, the world in which we meet in the lived-in experience, our immediateexperience of the world”.The illusion of An Absolute Conception as dominating in the scientific field, or other objectificationsassumed to be of absolute nature - ‘absolute Truth’ - and therefore taken to be worth pursuing and thereforeexcluding objectification from phenomena as created by one’s own perception, could therefore be assumed toform dams built to dominate life’s flow. An ongoing flow of perceiving phenomena now guided by built-inobjectifications fixed (internalized) instead of flowing. Objectifications created at a moment in time and takento be of absolute truth also in other moments of time blurring ‘open’ perception in those other moments.Then the question is how to become detached from internalized objectifications or opening up again for theEidos of the phenomena? A task needed to be fulfilled in order to re-create openness again nevertheless it is8 From: Tiemersma and Vlasblom in: (Merleau-Ponty 2009:15).9 From: (Merleau-Ponty: 2009, 13).
  5. 5. assumed to be quite challenging to abandon the usual, the internalized (the hyperreal) and to turn back to theoriginal, the veritable, (the real)10. It is the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty implying a dis-covering of spaceby emphasizing the importance of turning back to the ‘lifeworld’, in which the subject is bodily present. Itcould be considered Merleau-Ponty implicitly attempts to achieve a re-enchantment of nature with hisphenomenology for the obtainment of meaning he puts back in the pre-conceptual sphere of perception. Re-enchantment, for Merleau-Ponty considers the scientific way of methodic objectification to give‘prescriptions’ of the phenomena of the world or – as stated above – even of prescriptions as formulated byothers."I am a physical object sitting in a physical world. Some of the forces of this physical world impinge on my surface.Light rays strike my retinas; molecules bombard my eardrums and fingertips. I strike back, emanating concentricairwaves. These waves take the form of a torrent of discourse about tables, people, molecules, light rays, retinas, airwaves, prime numbers, infinite classes, joy and sorrow, good and evil11."It is exactly the word ‘about’ marking the difference between phenomenology and contemporary naturalismdominating within the scientific field12 of which latter takes the about-question for granted. Naturalism andthe scientific conception – a science free from metaphysics with logical analysis as its method, where that whatcan be said at all, can be said clearly13 - have in fact changed the world of phenomena from an enchanted‘multiverse’, once divine home to gods, spirits and other transcendental entities floating in the Ancient air, to adisenchanted ‘universe’, wherein The Conception rules with his Absolute scepter14. Merleau-Ponty and otherphenomenologists seem to attempt to re-enchant the world of phenomena from the viewpoint of perception.Disentchantment – or ‘Entzauberung’ - a concept of Max Weber – deals with the demysterization ordemystification of secularized modern society robbed of gods, by which he means that the category of mysteryis perceived negatively as metaphysical, theologizing and an expression of mood and spirit opposite tostatements made by the scientific field of whose meaning is determined by logical analysis and reduced to clearstatements about that what is given empirically. Mysteries therefore have to be solved by science, technology,or other fields operating in ‘this world’ and not some metaphysical world apart from it: it is rather aboutconquering mysteries instead of entering in them, that seems to be parallel to conquering space instead of10 From: (Van den Broek and Quispel, 1991:71).11 From: (Quine, 1957).12 Field – as in the Bourdieuan concept of field: a setting in which actors and their positions are located by processes ofinteraction among the specific rules of the field, the ‘Habitus’ an actor reflects and his possession of ‘Capital’; cultural,economical and social. A social arena in which actors maneuver in pursuit of desirable resources. In this case the scientificarena. (Bourdieu, 1984).13 From: (Hahn, Neurath and Carnap, 1973:304,306). The Absolute Conception is a term coined by Bernard Williams, a moral philosopher criticizing the utilitarian orderto adopt ‘The Absolute Conception’ of the world, arguing there is no reason to assume there is one conception ‘in terms ofwhich all relations of comparative importance can be represented’. He adds that it could be considered naive to believethere is this one conception representing the best of all conceptions possible and secondly that this will give one a betterviewpoint than the viewpoint of one’s own life (1978: 65–67). Although related to ethics, this belief in the Absolute One,in terms of conception or theory, marks the naturalistic approach of science. At the end of his life Williams said that if hehad to come up with one theme dominating in his work, it would be that one of authenticity and self-expression., it iftherefore the notion of ‘inner necessity’ he advocates (Jeffries, 2002).
  6. 6. entering in. Weber speaks of modern society in relation to this tendency of disenchantment, however onecould argue this tendency extends itself to present-day postmodern informational society, now providing toolsto share ‘solved’ mysteries – objectifications - in order to cover even more space in one’s being-in-the-world.Because of this sharing one gets more easily confronted by other objectifications than internalized oneselfcausing more fragmentation and confusion resulting potentially in even stronger attachment to one’s ownobjectifications on the one hand, or on the other hand, in a process of letting-go one’s internalizedobjectifications – the loss of great causes as stated by Slavoij Zizek15 - and adopting new ones, getting lost inthis world of objectifications spread more and more easily, going hand in hand with feelings of unease, fearand struggle. It is the life of the ascending battle of forces of attachment and detachment Western man livestoday and it is the phenomenological approach, which can ‘soften’ these feelings of unease to show it is man’snature to express infinitely that what is and therefore attachment to objectifications derived from one’s ownor some other one’s-being-in-the-world-in-a-certain-moment irrevocable evokes alienation on longer noticefrom one’s being-in-the world-at-every-moment for it is in every moment of one’s-being-in-the-world theworld of phenomena is opening itself in its entire being. One should re-open oneself, entering one’s innerspace, one’s intentionally being-in-the-world to become receptive for the Eidos of phenomena again as theydisplay themselves to one’s intentionally being-in-the-world, which is the same as to dis-cover the outer spacein one’s intentionally being-in-the-world for they are in a ‘Fundierungsrelation’.This Fundierungsrelation seems to be present in one of the Hermetic Laws of ‘that which is above is as thatwhich is below and that which is below is as that which is above: As above, so below: ‘the world is the same as‘God’, ‘God’ is the same as man, man is the same as the cell, the cell is the same as the atom, the atom is thesame as...and so on, ad infinitum’16. Expressed by theologist William Law as: the outer is the manifestation ofthe inner or the body is the manifestation of the soul17 and also, the world is the manifestation of the mind. Towhich must be added - following the Hermetic Law - that the world on her turn gives shape to the mind, anongoing process of shaping the world and become shaped by the world, as the ancient wisdom symbol of theOuroboros articulated in the introductory quote of: ‘expressing what exists is an endless task’. A ‘CreatioContinua’, as Luther mentions, an infinite process for the one is ‘fundiert18’ in the other.In fact Merleau-Ponty does not speak of an inner and outer space or world, he perceives inner life as anillusion, which is, according to him, nothing more than ‘nothing’ itself. Inner life and outer life form acorporeal unity, they express one and the same fundamental form of life: neither can be cause nor effect of theother. It is this ambiguous intertwining of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ what naturalism and its rational analysis overlookby ignoring that the subject-body is both part of the world and coextensive with this world, shaping this worldand getting shaped by this world. Inner and outer are ‘fundiert’ in each other. Fundierung’ Merleau-Ponty From: (Zizek:2010). The beginning of The Emerald Tablet, part from Hermetics, received by Hermes Trismegistus. From:(Van denBroek and Quispel,1991).17 From: (Law: Characters and characteristics, 1898).18 Fundierungsrelation: The possibility of expression is based upon the possibility of the perception of a world, a worldopening in one’s intentionally being-in-that-world, one is able to give expression to (Merleau-Ponty:2009).
  7. 7. explains as ‘the relation of reason to fact, eternity to time, reflection to the unreflective, thought tolanguage/perception’ […] And as stated above, Merleau-Ponty considers the inner and outer an illusion, theHermetic undertone quoted earlier is still somehow present: the outer is a manifestation of the inner and viceversa. Although within Hermetic thought inner and outer are explicitly mentioned separately, theFundierungsrelation between them is clearly present and its meaning rebounds upon a unity-thinking as well,and although the corporeal dimension is not that strongly emphasized in comparison to Merleau-Ponty’sphenomenological thinking, they rely on a same essence: an existential dimension. The Fundierungsrelationis also assignable H.P. Blavatsky ‘s articulation of the interconnectedness of subject and world:..”the world lives in us and we live in the world […]”Merleau-Ponty emphazises corporeality, whereby the body is both able to think and to perceive and theperceiving mind is an incarnated body which make the individual a subject-body. The subject-body is aunique unity being both intentional towards phenomena and meaning-giving/objectifying of thosephenomena. In the process of perception an objectification is created in a particular flowing moment in timeand consciousness of this objectification is upon itself a re-presentation of the objectification created from theflowing moment of perception. This re-presentation is an image of the perception of the flowing momentcaptured in the objectification. Following this reasoning, Merleau-Ponty here opens the possibility for aduality of time, that one within one’s-being-in-the-world from which one objectifies and a temporality one init’s being-in-the-world bringing objectifications forth of which former considers Dwyer to be a ‘natural time’and latter to be an ‘existential time’, the time one is-in-the-world19.Man can only perceive a world if this world and this perception are already his own thoughts, before they aredetermined facts. The world belongs to one’s being-the-world and one’s being-in-the-world belongs to one’sexistence20. Therefore Merleau-Ponty strongly rejects the idea of an Absolute free will since there are alwaysreal barriers to choice for man is situated in his environment, an incarnated mind being-in-the-worldproviding man a conditional free will, for he is always in a ‘certain’ being-in-the-world. The conditionalelement makes the experience of the world of phenomena possible shaping one’s conditional being-in-the-world. In other words: one acts on one’s environment and because of ongoing interaction both oneself andone’s environment are transformed:‘It is the definition of the subject-body to appropriate in an indefinite series of non-continuous acts “centers ofmeaning” which go beyond its natural powers and transform it”.As a body-subject, man encounters acts of expression, imparting his perception with a certain ‘style’, whichprovides to it a kind of meaning, which man gathers up in his ‘silence’ expressing it again. . This silence, thetacit cogito, man’s ‘motor presence in the world’, finds itself only in sound – expressivity or spoken cogito- as19 From: (Dwyer, 2008).20 From (Merleau-Ponty, 2009:479).
  8. 8. an act of speaking itself into the ‘world.’ And in the sound the silence can be grasped: they are inseparable.This inseparability of inner and outer implies that studying the perceived reveals the subject perceiving: theperceiving subject is the perceived world. Perception is therefore rooted in a mutual openness nested betweenboth. An openness, the subject-body attempts to find its balance and to shape habits, which is an infiniteprocess. In the act of perception it becomes clear, the one thought being pre-eminently-outside-us-world is infact immanent to our being. One could argue this rootedness of perception in a mutual openness betweeninner and outer is an Essence, wherein inner and outer ‘resonate’. ‘Resonance’ has its etymological roots in re-sonare derived from sonus (sound) and is at the same time anchored in ‘sundas’ being associated with ‘sund’which means health/completeness. Speaking about this dimension of resonance, the Mandorla or Vesica Piscissymbol seems to visualize this resonance of the subject-body – in this case - with the world of phenomena.Although the symbol below shows ‘fixed’ lines as the conventional Mandorla represents, serving as an exampleto illustrate the phenomenological approach, these lines should be interpreted as ‘dotted lines’.The Mandorla figure symbolizes interactions and interdependence of what seem to be ‘opposing’ forcesand/or elements. Its two circles are believed to represent matter and spirit, reason and intuition, man andGod, earth and heaven becoming one in the almond shape. Mostly occurring in a theological context related toMan’s existence normally struggling with his earthly nature and divine nature being, it is the Mandorla symbolinstructing how to reconcile, how to turn back to one’s Nature of earthly and divine being and transcendingthe seemingly opposed ‘created’ duality. It is exactly what Merleau-Ponty attempts: the elimination of theduality of subject and object, mind and body, inner and outer, human existence and the world by showing itsdelusion for they root in Essence, that mutual openness in which perception takes place. It is in one’sintentional existence, the world opens itself and in this specific intentionally being-in-the-world, oneobjectifies one’s being-in-the-world shaping on its turn that being-in-the-world. Here, subject and object,inner and outer, human existence and world resonate.Nevertheless it is considered man’s nature to oppose ‘one’ to the ‘other’, an attempt to give meaning to theworld hence one’s existence. Attachment to one’s objectifications makes them stick in one’s perception of theworld, coloring more and more one’s objectifications, forming a veil becoming thicker and thicker: arepression of the openness to perceive the Eidos of phenomena. According to the third law of Newton everyforce has its counterforce and it is for this reason all things repressed, will come up sometime. The Mandorlahas a ‘healing’ function for that moment man can no longer live in the tension of opposites, it shows a way-out
  9. 9. or in fact a way-in: a way to dive into the Nature of both, the almond, where two circles come together andbecome transcended. The Mandorla re-links – derived from re-ligare – that what has been torn apart. This iswhat originally the function of religion is: to bind together and although in general being muddled by a focuson the external sense of God, it attempts to re-open man, the separating force, binding him again to God(world), he placed outside himself. When this process is taken one step further, the resonance of man withGod, one is back at the true meaning of religion: to remember man, one is Essence. This is exactly whatMerleau-Ponty tries to attempt: to re-link man with the world, the subject with the object, the inner andouter, expression with perception, stating:‘the world is wholly inside and one is wholly outside oneself’.It is the In-between space of the almond created dualities are being relinked in their resonance for in thealmond, the in-between space, All is. When entering this In-between space of the almond shape, it will be ofsmall size at first, over time it will become bigger and the greater it becomes, the deeper and more complete itshealing will be, a healing of the ‘illness ‘of created duality. Illness, for duality is a delusion, nevertheless anecessary ‘illness’ man creates, for as is mentioned above, it is man’s nature to oppose one against the other inorder to conquer space in the world by giving meaning to it, conquering space instead of entering in it, anentering in which follows when the conquest enters its finiteness at some moment and it is at this moment,the delusion of created duality emerges pushing the need to re-sonate and transcend once assumed opposingelements, dis-covering space again, entering in its infinite nature.“The natural is that infinity in the face of which I am but a finite opening”.Merleau-Ponty formulates, it is because of intentionality as such the world can be approached implyinganother intentionally-being-in-the-world generates another openness for the world of phenomena and that noone’s intentionality equals another one’s. Merleau-Ponty speaks of enrichment/impoverishment when dealingwith openness for the world and extending this metaphor, there seems an opportunity existing to think aboutan ‘optimal’ richness for Merleau-Ponty discusses the impoverishment of the openness to the world of ‘the sickactor’ - the case of Schneider, - in his Phenomenology of Perception. The intentionality of ‘the healthy actor’he associates with a ‘regular’ intentionality and although every ‘healthy’ subject-body is ‘regular’ intentionallyin-the-world, it implies that when this ‘regular’ intentionality can pauperize, it also can be enriched againthrough which one’s openness to the world will on its turn become enriched as well. Applying the Mandorlasymbol to this impoverishment and enrichment of openness or space, the almond shape, the In-Between spaceis of smaller size if one speaks about impoverishment and of larger size if one speaks about enrichment. Whenboth circles fully overlap and the almond space is nothing else than one full circle, one could say optimal spaceor optimal openness is reached.With reference to one’s openness to the world, Merleau Ponty introduces the ‘intentional arc’. He elaborateson the case of Schneider having an illness decreasing his openness to the world for his intentional arc is
  10. 10. stressed less tightly than the intentional arc of an ‘healthy’ actor. This parallels a lack of physiognomy in aworld, a weakening or lack of a unity of meaning. The intentional arc of the ‘ill’ actor is in default according toMerleau-Ponty unveiling the existential conditionality of both sensory capacity and the meaning being at thesame time their connection. A ‘healthy’ or ‘regular’ subject-body being-in-the-world equals trust andcommunication with the world, a world in which phenomena are already meaningful from the moment theyare perceived and no meaning needs to be given external to it by a conscious act of comprehension as is the casewhen dealing with the case of Schneider. With reference to his field of perception, this field lacks formability;the world is not bringing any meaning from itself and the meaning given to perceived phenomena are notrepresented in this world anymore. Perception thus presupposes the possibility to re-obtain an inner world inan outer world and an inner world by the outer world21. Phenomena in a ‘regular’ intentionally being-in-the-world have an essence; a unity of meaning, being present from the moment perception takes place. In case ofSchneider, his existential foundation is affected; his intentional arc is de-stretched or stretched less tightly thanthe intentional arc of a ‘regular’ existence impoverishing Schneider’s perspective, his openness to the world. A‘regular’ existence is related to a ‘richer’ perspective, openness (or space) to the world, in which a unity ofmeaning, senses and intellect, sensory capacity and movement exists.Although Merleau-Ponty deals with the individual case of Schneider when explaining the nature ofintentionality and the intentional arc explaining impoverishment of the openness to the world as a lack offormability of that world, it could be argued that another impoverishment of openness to the world can beexplained as an ‘excess’ of formability of that world, for ‘illness’ is mostly associated with a shortage or a excessof something, which, in this case represents a de-stretching and overstretching of the intentional arc bothcausing a dysfunction concerning a ‘proper’ or regular (tight) stretching of this arc. Schneider’s intentionalityrepresents a world in which there is an absence of meaning brought forth by this world itself, the ‘general’intentionality of a subject-body being-in-a-postmodern-informational-world could be considered to representa world in which there is an over presence of meaning brought forth by this world itself affecting as well theexistential foundation of actors living in this world. In both cases one could speak of ‘depersonalization’ to beunderstood as a world, which is understood fewer and fewer by one’s own intentionality.One has to be aware Merleau-Ponty deals with individual cases in his Phenomenology of Perception, on theother hand he does speak of the ‘regular’ intentionality not connecting this intentionality to a specific actor asis the case when he elaborates on Schneider. To apply his phenomenological thought to the hyperreal blanketof meaning the postmodern informational world seems to be covered with decreasing openness for this world,therefore is of dual nature. On the one hand Merleau-Ponty speaks about an actor’s intentionality, not about asociety’s intentionality and for this reason his phenomenology seems to be not suitable as an attempt toapproach the impoverishment of space as present in contemporary society. On the other hand one could stillspeak of a ‘general’ intentionality connected to postmodern informational society as such belonging to actorsliving in this society since Merleau-Ponty does speak of a ‘regular’ intentionality when dealing with the21 From: (Merleau-Ponty, 2009:198).
  11. 11. intentionality of Schneider and a ‘regular’ actor in general. Turning back to the discussed impoverishment ofspace in Western postmodern informational society, the covering of the Eidos of phenomena byobjectifications derived from them and from other objectification, it now becomes clear this impoverishmentof space can be related to intentionality not receptive for the full depth of the phenomena presenting inrelated being-in-the-world, for being receptive includes being able to approach the Eidos of phenomena.Blavatsky illustrates the importance of receptivity connecting it to Divine Truth, a Truth one couldunderstand here as a metaphor for the ‘Truth’ of phenomena, their Eidos.“And remember, O my beloved, that the light of Divine Truth will often penetrate much easier an empty, anreceptive head, than one that is so crammed with learning that many a silver ray is crowded out for want ofspace22”.This lack of receptivity corresponds with a over presence of meaning brought forth by this world itself asexplained on previous page and is strongly connected with attachment to objectifications made and taken overfrom other actors, objectifications cut from the horizon to which they originally belong placed in another oneand taken of the same opacity. Merleau-Ponty speaks about the subject-body’s tendency to search a balancethrough ‘habituality’ showing perception is ‘learnt’ largely by imitation and that it is habit and the creation ofthe body schema giving one’s being-in-the-world a ‘general’ form and creating stabilized dispositions out ofdifferent acts generating perceptions not being great outliers, but rather being more in ‘stable’ line with thesedispositions. Dispositions taken for granted being ‘reified’ placed outside one’s existence as if it is external toit, whilst once situated within existence and now controlling that existence. It is because of human existenceas such duality (separation) is created to give meaning to its existence, irrevocably leading to alienation becauseof this duality resulting in transcending this duality by re-sonating with it now in ‘conscious’ understanding.Thus, habituality could be understood as the evolutional key needed to open the existential ‘doors ofperception’ and in this light the postmodern informational society can be understood as standing ready at thethreshold of the doors of perception ready to re-open them having become conscious of the key fitting them.Sloterdijk (2007) formulates this conditio humana, as the (post)modern man not living anymore in the world,but upon the world. Being not a centre of a celestial sphere anymore, he rather is a ridiculed ‘micromega’ andfor this reason he gets up to speed in an infinite expansion without a coordinate system having the feeling to belost in a labyrinth of incarnations, moving on its rings on full speed not recognizing himself as its constitutingcore. Sloterdijk continues man here has no ‘Oikos23’ anymore and that man, who still attempts to attach toconstructed objectifications as ‘the welfare society’ and ‘the global market economy’ is able to manage onlywith a false consciousness.22 From (Blavatsky, 1998).23 Oikos is the equivalent of home, family or cornerstone of society. In relation to the phenomenological approach ‘Oikos‘could be associated with the subject-body being the center of its own being-in-the-world shaping this world and gettingshaped by this world.
  12. 12. Sloterdijk’s vision clearly shows the hyperreal blanket of created objectifications (or dispositions) becomingtoo thick depersonalizing the postmodern informational society subject-body, alienating it from the Eidos ofthe phenomena as are presenting themselves in one’s independent intentional being-in-the-world.“The independent life begins with discovering what it means to live alongside the ‘monoculture’, given yourparticular circumstances, in your particular life and time, which will not be duplicated for anyone else. Out of yourown struggle to live an independent life, a parallel structure may eventually be birthed. But the development andvisibility of that parallel structure is not the goal – the goal is to live many stories, within a wider spectrum ofhuman values24."With an emphasis on particular circumstances in one’s particular life and time, a personalized being-in-the-world in which phenomena are perceived and still objectified and objectifications derived from it are not takenassumed to be of ‘fixed’ absolute truth placed in other horizons than the one in which it roots. Objectificationscreated and of which one detaches oneself immediately from as much as possible to re-open the doors ofperception at every moment phenomena are presenting themselves in one’s being-in-the-world for expressingwhat exists is an endless task and therefore attachment to objectifications made is locking these doors andhindering an ongoing flow of the Ouroboros. This is what Merleau-Ponty attempts to point at: theimportance of ‘Zuruck gehen nach den Sachen selbst’, the phenomenological institution puts the ‘certainties’of the natural attitude – assuming the world of objectifications - between brackets in order to understandthem. In that case one cannot be lost in one’s labyrinth of incarnations for now one recognizes oneself as itsconstituting centre, being able to enter the world instead of being upon it dis-covering space again and travelwithout moving. Hardly daring to believe this state to be Reality I gaze in wonder at the illusion of duality Mind is dead to the past Indifferent to the morrow Being joyfully merged in the moment Free from all sorrow My essence is truly pervading Space2524 From: (Michaels, 2011).25 From: (Sheridan, 1999).
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