August 08, 2006

Body as God

MP's concept of the Flesh! Binghamton University Discussion Forum Index -> Merleau-Ponty Circle View previous topic :: View next topic

abel oleaGuest
Posted: Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:46 am Post subject: MP's concept of the Flesh!

i already have read MP's The Visible and the Invisible, and i really find it hard to understand his main thoughts on the Flesh!... Is the Flesh really the same as that of the "arche"? What is its difference, if there are any? Does it also have some limitations? Was it also successful in underming the long existing Cartesian Dualism? What sort of God does MP's ontology presents? These are some of the questions that bothers me right now, and since im not that well-oriented on MP's philosophy, i would like to solicit your help on the matter. Thanks in advance for the enlightenment that you can give! Abel
Posted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 9:17 pm Post subject: Re: MP's concept of the Flesh!

God is the body
martin wyllieGuest
Posted: Tue Jun 29, 2004 3:53 am Post subject: Re: MP's concept of the Flesh!
Elliot, Could you say a little more about the bold statement that 'God is the body'?
Posted: Sat Jul 03, 2004 1:52 am Post subject: Re: MP's concept of the Flesh!
Why did he consider the Body as God?
Posted: Sun Jul 04, 2004 8:48 pm Post subject: Re: MP's concept of the Flesh!

spirit fountainhead physis

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2004 11:54 am Post subject: Re: MP's concept of the Flesh!

Why I stated that "God is the Body?" Well, from my interpretations of M-P and thus my worldview, I see the body as the ultimate domain (and purveyor) of knowledge. The belief in a presence that continually reinforces an infallible reality (and by extension, an ambiguity) between the sentient and the sensible leaves little room for any metaphysics or ontotheology. Specifically, I feel as though the subject of "the body as what we would associate to 'god'" subtends M-P's ontology, although it is never made as crudely explicit as I just have.

Robert KernodleGuest
Posted: Wed Jul 07, 2004 10:38 am Post subject: Re: MP's concept of the Flesh!

Is this the same as saying that humankind is God, and thus all conceptions of God are founded on the limits of the body's physical form?
Posted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 11:07 pm Post subject: Re: MP's concept of the Flesh!

perhaps Elliot is accurate in his reporting, i.e. of the God-Body, although I might perhaps reconfigure his notion towards one of Body as a Temple. This aspect, while certainly not a new one, interacts amicably with M-P's notion of flesh. From my reading, M-P has been heavily thematic, resonating/reverberating/oscilating around such notions as flesh, vinculum, connective tissue, dialectic. while they ought not to be understood as synonymous, perhaps such little phrases (to borrow from Proust, of whom M-P seems to have fostered a delicate admiration), taken together do well to collectively describe that which boils up. For it is indeed true that just when our glance teeters on the brink of obscure uncertainty is it forever just then filled/enmeshed/imbued/embedded with Sign-ness, and condemned to the realm of actualization. And so, what is it that surges forth, that astounds the sentient with sensibilities, that begets the glory of the caress? Certainly m-p's the Flesh is as good as any, and indeed much better than most? There is more to be said, perhaps, on the distinction between Elliot's Body as God, and Body as Temple. For while much has been made in the buddhist tradition (as well as many others indeed) that all which abounds is the embodiment of the One and perfectly manifests the cosmic flow, there are limitations here when one is compelled to be in the world ... To bring this back to Merleau-Ponty, and to the thread drawn above, I would like to tease out Robert's contention that "all conceptions of God are founded on the limits of the bodies physical form." This I believe to be an uncouth outgrowth of empiricism - with which m-p tangled for much of his Phen of Perception - the heavily presumptive notion that God might operate according to humanly conceivable limits, and an idea of God that, perhaps, M-P was inclined to transcend? Here again we might arrive at an understanding of ways in which Merleau-Ponty, without actually referencing God per se, has done perhaps more than any other in this century, to advance the human capacity to rationalize - and moreover to actually perceive - the whereabouts thereof.

Posted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 6:00 am Post subject: Re: MP's concept of the Flesh!

A previous string, "MMP and Materialism", contains a few remarks of mine on flesh as one of MMP's fundamental concepts. Amongs others things, a link between MMP's ontology and Spinoza's dual aspect ontology was drawn which is relevant to understanding the similarities and differences between the notion of flesh and God. For Spinoza, matter and mind are emanations or expressions of a single substance which he calls God. Structurally, MMP's argument is similar, in so far as flesh 'articulates' itself in the direction of language and thought, also infinity, and, in a manner of speaking, 'gesticulates' itself in the direction of pereption, sensibility, 'things'. So, in a way, flesh has in the thought of MMP a similar place that God has in the thought of Spinoza. But there are also important differences. For one, flesh is understood in a dynamic sense as self-propagating and self-sustaining through a never-ending play of differentiation through articulation and gesiculation, and reintegration through intertwining, as opposed to the static notion of God expressed aspectually, once and for all, in matter and mind. An important consequence of this difference is that flesh, and humans insofar as they too are flesh, are constantly creative, in the sense of creating their own existence, as opposed to the purely reflective role assigned to human existence in classical ontology. etienne

David PattenGuest
Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2004 12:25 am Post subject: Re: MP's concept of the Flesh!

There is the force of tradition that forgets its own origin. Dialogue of the flesh leads one to a metaphysics of the 'flesh', to some logical (rational) conclusion, meta-flesh. Not a mistake as there is something about this Origin that permits this. But others and my body are born together from an original ecstacy. The 'back side of things', that which we have NOT constituted, is revealed by the constitution what we DO reach for in our attempts to draw lines in nature. And that back side, that wild flowering world, thrives on every attempt to give it domesticity and paradigm. Wild thought arises not from human fraility or so called limitation but from the strong powers that seek to contain it. Every attempt to limit the flesh relationship ends in failure, but each failure is grist for the Mill. There is a thread in old myth that finds a contest unto doom between the forces of the Sun and that of the Wind. Call it Vishnu and Siva, or Apollo and Dionysus, or Light and Darkness, maybe even truth and error (as so many moderns would say), but neither wins totally the heart of the Maiden. The Tame and the Wild will always be with us, contending. And especially in any dialogue of the flesh. It is the very circularity of the dialogue, which we always come to, and start from, that suggests that the flesh in the hinge, the source, of itself. MP played with ontology in one chapter of the V and Inv. But everywhere else he burrowed under it. Why do we try to make an idealist or mere empiricist of him? Because we want to 'grasp' it all. Sort of like hungry ghosts
Robert KernodleGuest
Posted: Tue Jul 20, 2004 12:26 pm Post subject: Re: MP's concept of the Flesh!

When I say "human limitations", I mean it in a fuzzy way, as in all we can see--- in other words, the limits as we see as the tip of our finger or the top of our head, the outline of our general body structure, the form, the recognizable structure that distinctly calls from us the tag, "human body". Within this "limitation" of form, there is a limitation of perception that places it in relationship to an imagined infinity, and it is this weighing of our perceived limit against this imagined infinity that gives rise to a sense of grandeur which eventually finds its focus in a word bubbling up from our being, and this word (in English) is "God". This is the sense in which I mean that the limitations of the body entail the concept of God, thus the manner in which the flesh produces God and thus (through its dynamics in the world) is God, but not so much in a literal sense as a metaphorical sense. God is simply a word of best fit to summarize this encounter of the perceived finite weighed against the perceived infinite. Robert

David PattenGuest
Posted: Tue Jul 20, 2004 2:25 pm Post subject: Re: MP's concept of the Flesh!

Robert, It is precisely the notion that the sense world (sensing rather than perceptually 'enclosing') is limited that finds infinity (and God) elsewhere. We moderns keep falling into the reifications that reaffirm only what we 'think' we sense; and yet we all 'see', or sense, everything. I am suggesting that the 'divine' is not something we merely imagine, or think (which is really the essence of limitation...something that the 'flesh, as MP uses the term, lacks). If we are not aware of the divine sensibly present all around us it is because our 'game traps' (those con-cepts/per-ceptions...these 'ceptions) are inadequate. A child sees the table but perhaps not yet "as" table, that is as something limited by his own, or his own cultures, thought. But the original sensorum, its context, is not something limited except by the fantasies of the cogito. Perception can be extensive (I have always liked the discovery that all words for wisdom, for deep knowing, is a word that indicates some form of sensing), or it can be superficial (tending to cling to its file cards as superior to anything of the sense world), and everything in between. For me, the relationship called God is not so much a matter of the grandeur felt between perception of the (imagined) finite and the (imagined) infinite so much as it is arises in that very flesh which exists between touching and being touched, seeing and being seen, etc.,deeply. Not based upon limitation or lack , but upon (to quote Rilke) "that excess of existence". I don't think we are disagreeing here so much as I am trying to catch the inexpressible in these expressions. God is beyond belief.

Robert KernodleGuest
Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2004 1:32 pm Post subject: Re: MP's concept of the Flesh!

David P--- Actually, I think that we might be working towards an agreement. Maybe I am detecting your concern that my sense of "limitation" might imply "separated" or "distinct" or "cut off from". I do NOT mean this. I mean that we seem to be aware of this identity called "human" and this other identity that is everything not-human. This human identity has a quality of projecting itself beyond itself. This projecting and reflection from this identiy is the sense of God, but generated within this identity of Human. Let's try this: God is a sense, a sensing, an encounter resulting from a wave-form of being called "human" that "splashes up" within the greater ocean of being, reflecting itself back upon itself as an awareness of itself as the small wave in this bigger ocean. God does not exist without this distinction of identities. I cannot sense God, unless I sense me. "Me" is body. Body is God. God is body. Maybe I've moved us farther away, or maybe I'm homing in on somehting here. Thanks for your insight, Robert

IrwinJoined: 15 Mar 2005Posts: 1Location: Toronto
Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 4:08 pm Post subject: Concept of The Flesh

Having recently looked at this concept I am convinced the Merleau Ponty had begun to truely explore the interpersonal realm. He seems particularly interested in the body as flesh, but more than this he moves into an analysis of the flesh, insofar as Others are flesh reflexive...I think this is a major notion with little previously written...The flesh is like an "element" but this also has not been developed in his work. If anyone has anything to add concerning the Flesh I am interested. It is my humble opinion that Flesh is a governing term that has much to do with human affection, expression, and love.

matbradlJoined: 07 Apr 2005Posts: 1Location: Bloomington, IN
Posted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 11:13 am Post subject:

There is a recent anthropological publication (reading it has lead me to an interest in Merleau-Ponty's work) analyzing the Brazilian martial art of capoeira via a phenomenological approach. It might be of interest in regards to this question.

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