The readings and questions for the seminars will appear here each week.
The reading this week is chapter 8 of the GuideBook, which can be found in the course dropbox folder.
- What is temporality?
- How does Objective Thought think of time?
- Why does Merleau-Ponty object to this view?
- How does Objective Thought think of temporal experience?
- What’s wrong with this view?
- How does Merleau-Ponty conceive of temporal experience? (Ideas to think about when answering this question: ‘horizon’; ‘a single phenomenon of running-off’; ‘the living-present’.)
- Explain how he thinks the episodes of a single life are unified.
- What is time for Merleau-Ponty?
The reading for this week is Mark Wrathall’s paper ‘Motives, Reasons, and Causes’.
- What is Sartre’s view of human freedom?
- Why does Merleau-Ponty object to it?
- What is his alternative?
- What are the two ‘classical’ views to which Wrathall refers?
- Explain the idea that half of overcoming the classical view involves showing that human experience is not always conceptually articulated.
- What does this show us about our primary way of being in the world?
- What is ‘motivation’?
- How do motives differ from reasons?
- How are motives different from causes?
- Explain the idea that motives are grounds.
The reading for this week is chapter 5 of Katherine Morris’ book Starting With Merleau-Ponty.
- Explain the difference between the problems of other minds.
- Why is ‘the existence of other people a difficulty and an outrage for objective thought’?
- Explain Sartre’s distinction between the Other-as-object and Other-as-subject.
- Explain Sartre’s case study of shame and what he thinks this shows us about our knowledge of others.
- Which bits of Sartre’s account does Merleau-Ponty reject?
- What’s the importance of Descartes’ cogito to Merleau-Ponty’s account? What is the cogito? And what does Merleau-Ponty find problematic about it?
- What is the interworld?
- What is bodily reciprocity?
The reading for this week is this extract on Merleau-Ponty’s account of hallucination and illusion.
- What is maximum grip?
- How does Merleau-Ponty use this idea to account for illusion?
- How does the notion of horizons enter into his account of illusion?
- What is perceptual faith?
- Are illusions the same as hallucinations for Merleau-Ponty?
- If not, how do they differ?
- What is publicness?
The reading for seminar 5 is Clark and Chalmer’s paper ‘The extended mind’.
Whilst it’s not directly on Merleau-Ponty’s work, it’s inspired by it, and it’s one way of developing the rough sketch of thought that he gives us in the Phenomenology of Perception.
Here are some questions to think about:
- How is thought and cognition traditionally conceived?
- What is ‘extended cognition’?
- How do Clark and Chalmers argue for its existence using the tetris case?
- How does their position differ from externalism about content (the sort posited by Putnam and Burge)?
- What is ‘the extended mind’?
- How do Clark and Chalmers argue for the claim that beliefs can be extended?
- How do their ideas relate to Merleau-Ponty’s claims about thought?
The seminar this week focuses on Julia Annas’ piece Practical Expertise.
This article isn’t directly about Merleau-Ponty’s work, but it provides some material that can be used to object to his ideas about motor skills and the body.
Here are some questions that might be useful to think about:
- Annas wants to distinguish between mere habit and skill or practical expertise. What examples does she give to illustrate this distinction?
- On pages 104 – 105, Annas identifies three ways in which she thinks mere habit differs from practical expertise. What are they?
- Explain the claims she makes about enjoyment on pages 105-106.
- What is ‘flow’?
- Explain Csikszentmihalyi’s analysis of flow experience, and how it relates to the claims about practical expertise she wants to make.
- What is her ‘articulacy’ requirement?
- What does she mean by her claim that thoughts ‘efface’ themselves?
- Do her claims threaten Merleau-Ponty’s account? Why or why not?
For this week, please think about the ideas we cover in lectures and read these two extracts from papers discussing Merleau-Ponty’s account of action. The following questions may help focus your reading:
- What, according to the traditional account, are actions?
- What are ‘solicitations’? Or ‘affordances’?
- How are solicitations involved in action, according to Merleau-Ponty?
- How does his account differ from the traditional account?
- How do thoughts bring about action, according to Merleau-Ponty?
- How does Merleau-Ponty use the case of Schneider to support his claims?
- Do you think this is an attractive picture of action? Why or why not?