© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2008 DOI: 10.1163/156916408X258942 “A Past Which Has Never Been Present”: Bergsonian Dimensions in Merleau-Ponty’s Th eory of the Prepersonal Alia Al-Saji McGill University Abstract Merleau-Ponty’s reference to “a past which has never been present” at the end of “Le sentir” chal- lenges the typical framework of the Phenomenology of Perception , with its primacy of perception and bodily ﬁeld of presence. In light of this “original past,” I propose a re-reading of the preper- sonal as ground of perception that precedes the dichotomies of subject-object and activity- passivity. Merleau-Ponty searches in the Phenomenology for language to describe this ground, borrowing from multiple registers (notably Bergson, but also Husserl). Th is “sensory life” is a coexistence of sensing and sensible—bodily and worldly—rhythms. Perception is, then, not a natural given, but a temporal process of synchronization between rhythms. By drawing on Berg- son, this can be described as a process in which virtual life is actualized into perceiving subject and object perceived. Signiﬁcantly, this process involves non-coincidence or delay whereby sen- sory life is always already past for perception. Keywords Merleau-Ponty, Bergson, past, prepersonal, perception Dedicated to the Memory of Martin C. Dillon At the
Research in Phenomenology – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2008
Keywords: PERCEPTION; PREPERSONAL; PAST; MERLEAU-PONTY; BERGSON
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