BSP Podcast: Luis Aguiar de Sousa – The Lived Body in Merleau-Ponty

podcast update

Season two of our podcast continues with another presentation from the British Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference 2017 in Brighton.

Season 2 episode 28: 12 February 2018

This recording is of Luis Aguiar de Sousa’s presentation ‘The Lived Body as ‘Tacit Cogito’ in Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception’. You can listen to this episode on the BSP’s Podbean site, and you can also find it on iTunes and all good podcasting apps by searching ‘BSP Podcast’.

Abstract: “I will focus on Merleau-Ponty’s notion of the cogito, in particular as it is presented in the Phenomenology of Perception. As is well known, one of the central aims of Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception is to formulate a radically new conception of subjectivity, that is, to introduce the idea of embodied subjectivity. What has received less attention is the connection between this idea and his explicit theory of the cogito. Since the notion of “lived body” does not explicitly appear in the chapter on the cogito from the Phenomenology of Perception, I will make the connection between these two notions to the effect that what Merleau-Ponty calls the “tacit cogito” will be seen to be precisely the “lived body”. The lived body is the most elementary form of subjectivity, upon which all other, more complex, forms are built. As a rudimentary form of awareness, the lived body opens us to the world, it accomplishes our most rudimentary contact with being. In this connection, I will point out that that Merleau-Ponty’s lived body constitutes a new version of Sartre’s pre-reflexive cogito. For both Merleau-Ponty and Sartre, all consciousness must ipso facto be selfconsciousness. However, this does not imply that all consciousness involves explicit reflection upon oneself. On the contrary, just like Sartre’s prereflective consciousness, Merleau-Ponty’s lived body is an impersonal, anonymous entity. Although the lived body possesses a certain type of reflexivity, it is not closed in on itself, rather it immediately finds itself outside in the world. Perception is the fundamental act by which the lived body is not only in contact with the world, but also and primordially with itself. The true cogito consists precisely in this selfcertainty of perception. Thus, Merleau-Ponty does not relinquish the notion of cogito, but rather radically reformulates it.”

The British Society for Phenomenology’s Annual Conference took place at the University of Brighton, UK during September, 2017. It gathered together philosophers, literary scholars, phenomenologists, and practitioners exploring phenomenological theory and its practical application. It covered a broad range of areas and issues including the arts, ethics, medical humanities, mental health, education, technology, feminism, politics and political governance, with contributions throwing a new light on both traditional phenomenological thinkers and the themes associated with classical phenomenology. More information about the conference can be found here.