The primacy of perception

‘It is impossible to decompose a perception, to make it into a collection of sensations, because in it the whole is prior to the parts –and this whole is not an ideal whole.’

‘Perception is not a science of the world, it is not even an act, a deliberate taking up of a position; it is the background from which all acts stand out, and is presupposed by them. The world is not an object such that I have in my possession the law of its making; it is the natural setting of, and field for, all my thoughts and all my explicit perceptions.

Truth does not ‘inhabit’ only ‘the inner man’, or more accurately, there is no inner man, man is in the world, and only in the world does he know himself. When I return to myself from an excursion into the realm of dogmatic common sense or of science, I find, not a source of intrinsic truth, but a subject destined to the world.’

Maurice Merleau-PontyPhenomenology of Perception (1945)


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