• Kockelmans presented a brief re-interpretation of Merleau-Ponty’s thinking on space. He first put the spatial perception between “a true in-self and a pure for-itself.” I understand this approach that denies the position of spatiality as neither an absolute reality nor an abstract notion created by people. Maybe spatiality can be found as the “intermediary model of being in a very mode of perception.” The opening paragraph is useful: “This conception of space is obviously not concerned with the relation between something containing and something contained, since such a relation is only possible between two things. … According to Kant, therefore, space is neither the logical nor the real ‘setting’ in which things are arranged but only the means whereby the positing of things is made possible. In this conception, therefore, space is not either in which things could float, nor is it an abstract quality common to all things. We must think of it rather as that on the ground of which it is universally possible to bring things into connection with another.” (281)
  • Kockelmans, based on MP’s thinking, dismissed all of the following understandings of space (1) space is an object; (2) space is a synthesizing act of a subject; (3) space can be perceived because it is presupposed in every act of perception; (4) space can be seen as it emerges from our constituting activity, because it is essential for it is that it already be constituted. In short, he denied the notions that the space of our perception is the space of things, as “we do not reflect but just live among things in which case we see space vaguely as the environment in which things are,” and the space of our perception is a spatializing space, as “we do reflect and grasp space by its roots to discover then that spatial relations only exist and “live” through a subject who describe them.” Rather, what MP suggested is that space and our perception of it both “refer me constantly to my existence, to the part which my body exercise in all my activities.” As our bodies are older than our thinking, the relationship between us and space are formed between our body and the world in general. The body here is “underneath” our concrete ego or consciousness about the world, because the body can be understood as “another subject for which a world already exists before I am there myself, and which defines my original place in it.” (288) Here this idea connects to what Edward Slingerland in his book on “effortless action” or “wu-wei” in Chinese early Daoist thinking discusses the “multiple selves” in our mental space construct (our experience is unitary consciousness).
Posted by:Liyang DING

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