I’ve been reading on my ipad using the kindle app, and I really quite like it. I read Merleau-Ponty’s lecture series entitled ‘The World of Perception’ lately. It was a series of radio addresses given in 1948 (leave it to France to pass the radio over to the philosophers). These radio lectures make a wonderful introduction to Merleau-Ponty. Here’s his main argument:
“The world of perception, or in other words the world which is revealed to us by our senses and in everyday life, seems at first sight to be the one we know best of all. For we need neither to measure nor to calculate in order to gain access to this world and it would seem that we can fathom it simply by opening our eyes and getting on with our lives. Yet this is a delusion. In these lectures, I hope to show that the world of perception is, to a great extent, unknown territory as long as we remain in the practical or utilitarian attitude. I shall suggest that much time and effort, as well as culture, have been needed in order to lay this world bare and that one of the great achievements of modern art and philosophy (that is, the art and philosophy of the last fifty to seventy years) has been to allow us to rediscover the world in which we live, yet which we are always prone to forget”
He wants us to more clearly perceive the world around us that is covered up by too many things. Interestingly, he sees the arts as one of the keys to doing this, and painting especially plays a key role in these lectures. I’ll pull out another couple quotes from this book a little later if I get a chance.