19 January, 2009

The World of Perception

. 19 January, 2009

After I finished reading the massive volume of Phenomenology of Perception, I became more interested in reading other books on similar topics written by the same author. The World of Perception is another book I chose to read presuming this topic closely related to the Phenomenology of Perception. This book cannot be found at any bookstore in Medan, neither in Bandung. I could order the book from online book store like amazon.com, but the shipment cost is much more expensive than the book itself, so I asked my younger sister Erna who lives abroad to buy one for me.

Unlike Phenomenology of Perception which is of 539 pages, The World of Perception is much briefer – only 125 pages including index. This is a collection of seven lectures for a series of radio broadcast which were delivered by him in 1948. Those seven lectures are: 1. The World of Perception and the World of Science, 2. Exploring the World of Perception: Space 3. Exploring the World of Perception: Sensory Objects, 4. Exploring the World of Perception: Animal Life, 5. Man Seen from the Outside, 6. Art and the World of Perception, 7. Classical Modern World.

In this book, Merleau Ponti suggests us to ‘rediscover’ the perceived world with the help of modern art and philosophy. In relation to Science, he seeks to reverse application of the reality distinction to the relationship between the perceived world and the world of science. He views the world of science as just an ‘approximation expressions’ of physical events i.e. an appearance, unlike realists views that the perceived world is the real world. In the second part about the perceived world and discussion of space, a basic concept is a contrast between the classical conception of space and that which actually informs the world as we perceive it. The classical conception of space is that of Newtonian physics which relies on a conception of ‘absolute’ space within physical objects have an absolute time and can move without any alteration of their physical properties. Merleau Ponti associates this conception of space with that found in classical art, the kind of painting whereby objects are depicted in accordance with the perspective they would present when viewed under a gaze directed at a point of the horizon, which remain at a distance and do not involve the viewer. His general point is the space of the perceived world is not the unique space of a ‘disembodied intellect’, but, like physical space, has different regions which are structured by our expectations concerning the things which we find in them.

I enjoy reading this book because the way he discuss each theme is much more simply and systematically so it is much easier for me to get the points, compared to the Phenomenology of Perception in which his discussion comprise a lot psychological and philosophical argumentation. I was just a bit confused in reading part three which is about sensory objects. It is not quite easy for me to figure out the idea behind how he relates the sensory object with this perceived world. In the two lasts chapter of the book it is deeply discussed that the world of perception consists not just of all natural objects but also paintings, pieces of music, books and all the ‘world of culture’. He brings readers to rediscover a way of looking at works of arts, language and culture, with respect to their autonomy and their original richness.
For the one like me, with limited philosophical background knowledge (which is merely about philosophy of science), this phenomenological philosophy is interesting. It is a matter of seeing the world from another point of view, which includes art, painting and psychology. For those with no philosophical background but interested to read this book, I would recommend to read the book about French Philosophy and German Philosophy beforehand. It is better to know the author’s biography and background knowledge prior to reading his/her articles so we could follow the authors’ way of thinking. This is helpful to easily get what points the author wants the readers to get.


John Milton said...

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