« Augustine and phenomenology | Main

Back from traveling

I’ve been traveling for a couple of weeks and so haven’t been able to attend to the blog as carefully as I’d like. But I’m back now and am gratified to see the level of activity in the comments. From a quick perusal I can see that not everyone is so sympathetic to my views. That’s fine - indeed it’s the people who disagree with me that I’ll likely have the most to learn from! I look forward to going through the comments carefully, and will try to write some responses over the next few days. I may not get to respond to everything, but I’ll try. In the meantime, I’ll also try to put up some new substantive posts, and will look forward to further comments.


Dear Sean,

You are doing a great job. Incidentally, yesterday I received an e-mail from the “International Merleau-Ponty Circle” Secretary Prof. Galen Johnson about the translation. Dr. Johnson has received word from Don Landes at SUNY-Stony Brook that Routledge is putting together a new translation of “Phenomenology of Perception.” Johnson writes “Prof. Sean Dorrance Kelly at Princeton has been commissioned to produce the translation, and he has set up a blog for MP translators and other interested parties to contribute to the process.’

With best wishes!!

Thanks, Arun!

Dear Sean,

I would like to suggest you, to invite other great admirers of Merleau-Ponty and Husserl (and Heidegger) to participate in the discussion. For that purpose, I have already forwarded an announcement to Dagfinn Follesdal, Charles Guignon, Steven Crowell, Robert Scharff, and Patrick Heelan, and others. Perhaps, they are too busy, to get involved in this discussion. But, I have received a good feedback from a senior professor Patrick Heelan -who has some good ideas for the new MP’s translation. With regards!

That’s great, Arun - thanks for inviting them all! The more the merrier…

Dear Professor Kelly, I see that I have noted in the margin to my copy of my namesake’s translation, on p.3, next to “we find in language the notion of sensation,” the words “the technical language” (“le langage”). I probably noticed that the English didn’t make much sense here, and consulted the French. What M.-P. has in mind here is, I believe, the traditional philosophical terminology, not language in general.


Great blog. I have always enjoyed your papers on Merleau-Ponty.

I’ve got a question for you. It’s rumored that Hubert Dreyfus is co teaching a course with Hannah Ginsborg on John Mcdowell in the fall of 2006. Is this true? If it is, I hope they record these lectures.

Tap, tap. This thing on? Come on, Sean! We’re waiting for more translation news! :)

Sean, I just heard about this blog the other day. I’m looking forward to the ongoing distraction once you get back to posting.

Josh, wrt your question, it is true that Dreyfus and Ginsborg are co-teaching a seminar next Fall at Berkeley, though I’m not sure what it’s on. Bert does generally record his seminars, so …

I know I’m a bit late on this but I wanted to comment on your last post. You write:

“But why choose Augustine to make this point? Augustine’s account of the inner man is not the fully developed Cartesian account of subjectivity, even if it is an ancestor of that aspect of Cartesianism.”

It’s a fair question, Augustine seems to be the poster boy for intentional philosophies of mind and language. Wittgenstein opens the PI contrasting the picture-view of language exemplified in Augustine’s confessions (the builders) with his view of meaning as use. There does seem to be a relation between, dualism- the intentional view of language and mind- and an adherrence to a religious worldview. Relevantly, Wittgenstein in the PI somewhere implies the condition of a private language (I believe the example he uses involves a parrot) is the belief in God.

How might we relate this with Merleau-Ponty? well in the PhP, in the section on Space he writes:

“Consciousness is neither tue positing of oneself, nor ignorance of oneself, it is not concealed from itself which means that there is nothing in it which does not in some way announce itself to it, although it does not need to know this explicitly…The lived is certainly lived by me, nor am I ignorant of the feelings which I repress, and in this sense there is no unconscious. But I can experience more things than I represent to myself, and my being is not reducible to what expressly appears to me concerning myself.” (PhP, 296)

This is to make two points, one that the domain of Being is underdetermined by the way of getting to it vis-a-vis intentional or attentional knowledge (i.e. we’re aware of far more than we can bring ourselves to contemplate or “know”). Second, that if by “knowledge” what you really mean is the totality of things we interact with in a sapient way, there really is nothing outside of our epistemic purview; we are, literally, all-knowing as all-Being (in our authentic potentiality-for being) in our Being-with-the-world. Therefore, against Wittgenstein’s definition of the religious point of view, the world is not just “put there for my sake” but is dependent upon my (our) sake or “concern” for it. Under the Heideggerian picture Merleau-Ponty allegedly appropriates, we seem to have an almost god-like command over Being by being-Being. That is to say, heretofore, the definition of a conscious being which was identical with its possibility-for-being (A Material, Efficient, Final cause of its world) and “takes a stand on its own being” would have been “God” but now, it’s “Dasein.” Therefore, there may be the tacit implication in M-Ponty’s critique that the religious point of view of Augustine (and Husserl) has led us to the right idea about the kind of being we’re inquiring into, but led us astray as to the methods we should adopt to study it, namely, withdrawing from the world. Perhaps M-Ponty is accusing Husserl of “Pharisaism” i.e. one ought to listen to the content of “what he says” rather than “how he does.” This would a fairly damning charge especially if M-Ponty is a thoroughgoing “Heideggerian,” as Prof. Dreyfus suggests, since for the latter there is no separation between “what” one says and “how” ones does; the method is disclosed by the “things-themselves.”

I have been shuffling around the internet for quite some time in search of a good source of information. I have just realized that the internet is not a good source for the kind of information I seek. What I really need is a person, one who will interact with my questions instead of merely producing an answer. I was wondering if you knew someone who would have an interest in speaking with me. I have many questions to ask. I am 15, and curious. I am interested in becoming a professor, though I am not sure which area I would teach in. I was hoping that you would have some form of guidance. Any help you might offer would be greatly appreciated. ~emptycoinrolls@gmail.com


Excellent blog. I have learned much from it and have decided to start my own given your influence and success.

Dir Sir I think you do not remember me . I am the Iranian student who sent you an essay about Existentialism . Now I have created a social network based on Humanities (specially Philosophy) I wonder if you could join and glorify it . this is the address : enhouseforhumanities.ning.com Your Faithfully ,

Abbas Shahrabi

Post a comment