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Merleau-Ponty (The Routledge Philosophers) Paperback – July 25, 2008

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

‘Carman gives a fresh, clear, and convincing account of Merleau-Ponty's thought.  His book is the best available thus far and should be required reading for those interested in Merleau-Ponty's original and important ideas and how they relate both to our pervasive perceptual experience and to current philosophical debate.’ – Hubert Dreyfus, University of California, Berkeley, USA

'This is the best introduction to Merleau-Ponty's work available. It provides a clear and lucid overview of the whole of Merleau-Ponty’s thought, presenting the central ideas and themes of his writings in an accessible yet rigorous way.  As such, it will be of interest to beginners and advanced scholars alike.'Mark Wrathall, University of California, Riverside, USA

'...a wonderful exposition of Merleau-Ponty's philosophy as a whole. It offers clear explanations of Merleau-Ponty's ideas and some of the most significant theories and movements that influenced him, and shows how his thinking developed across the course of his life. In addition, Carman has written with great panache.' – Komarine Romdenh-Romluc, University of Nottingham, UK

'Carman's accounting is nuanced, closely argued, and exceptionally clear. His introduction covers the whole of Merleau-Ponty's considerable corpus, tracing its development and exhibiting its continued relevance for contemporary debates in phenomenology and psychology, philosophy of mind, and metaphysics. It will be enormously useful to teachers and students seeking an accessible introduction to Merleau-Ponty's writings.' – Wayne Martin, University of Essex, UK

'This book is extremely well written – very clear and engaging – and, with regard to its representation of Merleau-Ponty's philosophy, the account is comprehensive and insightful. I would recommend this book as the first and main commentary for students to consult.'Sebastian Gardner, University College London, UK

About the Author

Taylor Carman is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Barnard College, Columbia University.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Routledge Philosophers
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (September 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415339812
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415339810
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,288,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Merleau-Ponty's influence seems to me to be on the rise. While Merleau-Ponty's reputation was at first overshadowed a bit by Heidegger and Sartre I think Merleau-Ponty's ideas may wind up having more enduring relevance. Merleau-Ponty was primarily preoccupied with questions surrounding the nature of perception and the body. All the other aspects of his philosophy - including his analyses of art and politics - are offshoots of his phenomenology of perception and the lived body. Carman devotes the second and third chapters of his book to Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of perception and the lived body. Together they comprise about 100 pages of a 230 page book. Personally, I would have preferred to have those sections take up an even larger proportion of the book, since they are so central, and they were, in my opinion, the best parts of the book. However, these Routledge introductions are meant to be fairly comprehensive and, I admit, it was nice to get a discussion of Merleau-Ponty's politics, which is not dealt with much in the secondary literature.

Carman's book is accessible, well-written, and interesting. I thought Carman did an especially good job explaining how important it was for Merleau-Ponty that perception is a bodily phenomenon and that perception opens upon a world. Carman makes it clear that, for Merleau-Ponty, perception is not a spectacle played before the mind, nor is it the relation between a subject and an object. There is a communion between the body and the world that exists before the separation of subject and object - we are of the same stuff as the world - and Carman's discussion of this aspect of Merleau-Ponty's thought helped me to understand Merleau-Ponty's later notion of the flesh.
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Format: Paperback
If you're looking for a good introduction to Merleau-Ponty's thought for a general reader, this book is not as helpful as it could be. I don't think that there would be much understanding gained from Carman's "explanations" of Husserl and Gestalt psychology for all the ink spilled there if you weren't already familiar with these systems of thought. Excursions into contemporary theories are also a bit out of place for a book that really should be focusing on explaining M-P. Carman jumps around within texts themselves, defining terms with quotations sometimes hundreds of pages apart. His own reading of M-P makes less of his purported shift than other scholars, but he doesn't cue readers in on the fact that he is pulling from different chapters in order to make his arguments. What readers--or this one, at least--are probably wanting is a walk through M-P's major texts; what we get is a rather jumbled survey that gives the impression that M-P himself was just as sloppy.
Carman clearly has a great knowledge of M-P and an interesting reading of the philosopher. This book could be much shorter and deeper.
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