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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A helpful primer to an important but unsystematic work, 26 July 2011
J. Gordon "Mycosis" (London) - See all my reviews
Maurice Merleau-Ponty's 'The Phenomenology of Perception,' is a staggering achievement and a classic of continental philosophy of this period. It presents a credible case for a third way between the doctrines of empricism and intellectualism that have dominated European thought regarding consciousness and its operations. It is, however, a notoriously challenging read owing the author's habit of lightly shading in an arguement through recourse to thought experiments and a vast range of faintly connected pieces of evidence, from Gestalt Psychology to the visual arts. The translation as well gives us the impression of an author given to frequent incredible feats of mental gymnastics, portentious concepts pour from the paragraphs to create a dull coloured soup in the poor reader's mind. I found myself worrying that I had missed out the important points and even at times becoming baffled over where the author stands. A lot of people criticise Being and Time for its difficulty but owing to the range of Merleau-Ponty's learning and his lack of inhibition in demonstrating this (why not fire at will in your magnum opus after all?) I found the meandering, multifarious assault of several key chapters of Phenomenology of Perception far more bewildering. This was, I'm certain, mostly on account of my meagre auto-didactic learning but help was at hand!

Komarine Romdenh-Romluc is now my hero for taking this sprawling work and organising it in an intelligble, readable fashion. She is rigorous at following through Merlea-Ponty's assertions to their consequence, her critical instincts are sharper than the accessible, folsky, examples that are peppered through the text suggest, nourishing our logical faculties along the way. Despite great admiration for Merleau-Ponty's work, Romendh-Romluc is dutiful to the amateur reader in her clear hi-lighting of the former's occasional unwarranted leaps and creaky and ambiguous selection of words that must bear a tremendous amount of weight in the structure of his reasoning. The reader can feel assured that you will now be able to understand the stimulating concepts put forward in the source text, the reciporcal relationship between the world and consciousness, embodied consciousness and the transcendental phenomenological reduction. The work give a fresh relevance to Merleau-Ponty's ideas, left free to insert themselves into contemporary discussions regarding consciousness (currently dominated by today's empiricism, cognitivism) without the clutter of the his ornate prose. I now feel confident to re-apporach the original, knowing where Merleau-Ponty stands. Thank you for all the work you put in Ms. Romdenh-Romluc!
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