(According to Merleau-Ponty) Engagement with the things is the way to truly let them be

“The effective, present, ultimate and primary being, the thing itself, are in principle apprehended in transparency through their perspectives, offer themselves therefore only to someone who wishes not to have them but to see them, not to hold them as with forceps, or to immobilize them as under the objective of a microscope, but to let them be and to witness their continued being – to someone who therefore limits himself to giving them the hollow, the free space they ask for in return, the resonance they require, who follows their own movement, who is therefore not a nothingness the full being would come to stop up, but a question consonant with the porous being which it questions and from which it obtains not an answer, but a confirmation of its own astonishment. It is necessary to comprehend perception as this interrogative thought which lets the perceived world be rather than posits it, before which the things form and undo themselves in a sort of gliding, beneath the yes and the no.” – The Visible and The Invisible, 101-102

4 thoughts on “(According to Merleau-Ponty) Engagement with the things is the way to truly let them be

  1. Basically that engagement with others cannot be reduced to violence. And beyond that, that engagement amongst difference is good for others and for us. So, while speaking to much is pretty bad and not listening is even worse, we shouldn’t feel guilty about speaking per se.

    Another connection here would be with environmental ethics. Instead of zero impact we should be thinking of good impact. (Though given that so much of our impact is bad, stepping back from it to reassess some things might not be a bad plan.)

    Another way to put it: Where some would want to argue that all exploration is necessarily tainted by colonialism, Merleau-Ponty helps us to see that this needn’t be so.

    Liked by 1 person

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