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Phenomenology of Perception 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415834339
ISBN-10: 0415834333
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Editorial Reviews


"... Donald A. Landes’ rendering of Merleau-Ponty’s magnum opus is a welcome arrival for both the student and the scholar, especially in the light of the renewed and well-warranted interest in that thinker’s work over the last two decades. ... As someone who has given a course on Phenomenology of Perception for several years, I will recommend this book to my future students with enthusiasm." - Timothy Mooney, International Journal of Philosophical Studies 

"This new translation, which is accurate, sensitive and eloquent, will, I hope, enable the reader to better deal with the inaccuracy, opacity and rigidity which are part of any perception and of any text." - Eran Dorfman, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"This is an extraordinary accomplishment that will doubtless produce new readers for the remarkable philosophy of Merleau-Ponty. This excellent translation opens up a new set of understandings of what Merleau-Ponty meant in his descriptions of the body, psychology, and the field of perception, and in this way promises to alter the horizon of Merleau-Ponty studies in the English language. The extensive index, the thoughtful annotation, and the guidance given about key problems of translation not only show us the richness of Merleau-Ponty's language, but track the emergence of a new philosophical vocabulary. This translation gives us the text anew and will doubtless spur thoughtful new readings in English." - Judith Butler, University of California - Berkeley, USA

"This lucid and compelling new translation not only brings one of the great breakthrough books in phenomenology back to life – it gives to it an entirely new life. Readers will here find original insights on perception and the lived body that will change forever their understanding of themselves and the world they inhabit." - Edward S. Casey, Stony Brook University, USA

"This book is not to be read as a contribution to a school of philosophy (called Phenomenology), but as one of the classical works of philosophy in the Western tradition, essential reading for any school. I love it partly for the incredibly rich diet of examples, both personal and scientific, described in such a way as to make you rethink every aspect of human life and experience. The new translation and its appendices enrich the understanding - and enjoyment - of today's reader." - Ian Hacking, Collège de France, France

"Landes' excellent translation preserves the fluidity and subtlety of Merleau-Ponty's philosophical prose. Phenomenology of Perception is finally available in an English-language edition fully adequate for the purposes of scholarship, and which allows the reader to appreciate with accuracy the distinctive patterns and movements of Merleau-Ponty's thought." - Sebastian Gardner, University College London, UK

"It is impossible to define an object in cutting it off from the subject through which and for which it is an object; and the subject reveals itself only through the objects in which it is engaged. Such an affirmation only makes the content of naive experience explicit, but it is rich in consequences. Only in taking it as a basis will one succeed in building an ethics to which man can totally and sincerely adhere. It is therefore of extreme importance to establish it solidly and to give back to man this childish audacity that years of verbal submission have taken away: the audacity to say: "I am here." This is why The Phenomenology of Perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty is not only a remarkable specialist work but a book that is of interest to the whole of man and to every man; the human condition is at stake in this book." - Simone de Beauvoir, 1945

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 696 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (June 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415834333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415834339
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Merleau-Ponty's work is nothing less than a classic, one of the great works of philosophy in the 20th century. It should go without saying, then, that this work should be made available in an up-to-date and scholarly translation.

Unfortunately, this is what Routledge has refused to do. Not only does this "new" edition maintain all of the known mistakes and inconsistencies of the original translation (most of which were not corrected when the translation was revised twenty years ago), but it also introduces literally dozens of type-setting errors. In addition to all of the obvious mistakes in punctuation and spelling (e.g., "intelfection" on p. xx; "in a world" instead of "in a word" on p. 129; "deralizes" for "derealizes" on p. 140; "writes" for "writers," p. 163; "Rinswanger" for "Binswanger," note 6, p. 185, and the list goes on and on), you will also encounter such lovely gems as "Bergson's inferiority" (instead of "interiority", p. 67) and "adduction" transformed into "abduction" -- when distinguishing between the two is precisely the point of Merleau-Ponty's discussion (p. 243). In short, an already flawed translation has now been bungled into a bloody mess. If you are reading this book for the first time, you would be well-advised to check the used bookstores for a copy of the earlier edition. If you are trying to use this text with students, lots of luck to you!

It is also worth mentioning that Routledge has again failed to include a translation of Merleau-Ponty's original table of contents in this edition, so that many English readers are still unaware that he provided a detailed outline of the entire text to guide the reader. A translation by Daniel Guerriere is available in the Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 10, no. 1 (1979) - although, of course, the page numbers no longer correspond to this "new" edition.
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Format: Hardcover
It is difficult to overstate the importance of this new edition of a twentieth century classic, or the magnitude of the translator's achievement. For five decades the English-language reception of PHENOMENOLOGY OF PERCEPTION has been hampered by the Colin Smith translation, rushed into print shortly after the author's death, apparently with no competent editorial supervision. Donald Landes has done the job right this time, and is supported by an excellent introduction by Taylor Carman. To give a flavor of what's changed, here's a passage from Merleau-Ponty's original, from the opening paragraph of Part I, Ch. 5, "The Body as a Sexed Being":

Or tant que nous nous adressions à l'espace ou à la chose perçue, il n'était pas facile de redécouvrir le rapport du sujet incarné et de son monde, parce qu'ile se transforme de lui-même dans le pur commerce du sujet épistémologique et de l'objet (p. 180).

In the Smith translation, this passage reads:

Now so long as we considered space or the things perceived, it was not easy to rediscover the relationship between the embodied subject and its world, because it is transformed by its own activity into the intercourse between the epistemological subject and the object (p. 178).

Translating 'commerce' as 'intercourse' in a chapter on the body as sexed being gives precisely the wrong impression, and has led to numerous wholly specious interpretations. Here is Landes's text:

But insofar as we focused on space or the perceived thing, it was not easy to discover the relation between the embodied subject and his world because this relation transforms itself in the pure exchange between the epistemological subject and the object (p. 156).

Thank you, Donald Landes, Taylor Carman, and Routledge Press!
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Format: Paperback
As shown in his first book, The Structure of Behavior, and this extension of that piece, Merleau-Ponty was a philosopher who was way ahead of his time.
While Husserl was off sputtering abstractly about phenomenology and 'essences', Merleau-Ponty planted himself squarely into the concrete, thick, world of lived experience: this book is a detailed phenomenological description of of attention, memory, space-perception, free will, and other psychological/phenomenological categories. M-P claims that simply by paying attention to this lifeworld, we see that previous philosophical systems have overlooked ineliminable dimensions of what it is like to be a person, and that this oversight has led to radically incomplete philosophical accounts of things like memory, perception, etc..
The book is so rich, original, and nuanced that it is hard to do it justice in a short review here. Not saddling himself with narrow academic techniques or fields, he draws on any resources he can to come to make sense of human experience. He cites not only philosophers such as Heidegger and Sarte, but draws equally heavily upon the Gestalt psychologists and neuroscientists of his day. He discusses phantom limbs, experiments on spatial perception, and psychophysical results from the Gestalt psychologists.
Many ideas that are popular in modern analytic philosophy and psychology can be found in this book: the view that 'sense data' are simply theoretical constructs, the view that attention focuses on objects not abstract spatial locations, and the claim that our original concepts cannot be understood independently of the embodied interactions with the world where we first come to use them.
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