The Child as Natural Phenomenologist
Primal and Primary Experience in Merleau-Ponty's Psychology
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Northwestern University Press
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Flannery O’Connor wrote, “The fact is that anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days” (1969, 84). To begin a book asserting the relevance of childhood for our understanding of the human condition seems trite. Of course, childhood greatly shapes our adult experience of the world. One’s situa-...
List of Abbreviations
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1. Early Work in Child Psychology
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Merleau- Ponty’s philosophical commitments make it diffi cult to easily situate him. He evidently is committed to Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger’s work, but takes up a range of political inquiries and em-pirical research in the human sciences that are largely absent in their canonical philosophical texts. It is his inclusiveness that makes him a ...
2. Phenomenology, Gestalt Theory, and Psychoanalysis
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This chapter will discuss the relationship between philosophy and psy-chology in the Sorbonne lectures to provide an introduction into the manner in which three theories—phenomenology, Gestalt theory, and psychoanalysis—shape Merleau- Ponty’s work. Merleau- Ponty argues for the relevance of phenomenological theory to experimental praxis and ...
3. Syncretic Sociability and the Birth of the Self
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The fi rst chapter provided a historical introduction to Merleau- Ponty’s work in child psychology by summarizing his pre- 1949 comments on childhood. The second chapter introduced the Sorbonne lectures in child psychology and pedagogy by outlining the main theoretical infl u-ences of the lectures: phenomenology, Gestalt theory, and psychoanal-...
4. Contemporary Research in Psychology and Phenomenology
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The spirit and practice of the Sorbonne lectures is to engage with a wide range of contemporary research. Thus it is fi tting not only to summarize Merleau-Ponty’s lectures, but also to consider them in the broader con-text of contemporary discussions about the relevance of child experience for our understanding of the human condition. In the previous chapter, ...
5. Exploration and Learning
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When trying to understand the child’s intersubjective life, we must be careful to not overvalue intellectual, representational abilities in child-hood since this highlights immaturity and reduces the child to a former adult state. Instead, we must approach childhood development with an open mind and be willing to fi nd forms and styles of engagement that ...
6. Culture, Development, and Gender
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If we take seriously the call to see our existential condition and the human sciences that study it—history, psychology, biology, sociology, an-thropology—as relevant for a general philosophical understanding of ourselves, we cannot avoid turning to the question of cultural relativ-ism. The confl ict between cultural analyses and scientifi c ones is particu-...
Conclusion: An Incomparable Childhood
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Perhaps the argument that our primal experience is also historically primary is an ill- founded romanticism. Merleau- Ponty’s descriptions not only want to evoke this early element of human existence, but also want to “praise” childhood insofar as it reveals our true immersion in the world. What divorces us from our underlying syncretic nature could be ...
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Page Count: 193
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: SPEP
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth