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The Perception of 'Depth' in the Phenomenological Constitution of Space : Husserl's 'affective relief' and Merleau-Ponty's 'perceptive itinerary'

Shin, Ho-Jae 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Criticizing the classical conception of sensation in empiricism and intellectualism, Merleau-Ponty calls attention to the concrete and vivid experience of sensation and perception in life. Blinded by the prejudice of objectivistic reflection, which regards the visual world as vertically flat and even, both theories above could not explain the phenomenon of ‘depth’ which means no other than the perception of distance. Merleau-Ponty shows that only by the ‘depth’ as inseparable moment of perception, three dimensions of space can open and unfold before our eyes, so that the sens of a materially presented thing is provided for the first time. According to Husserl’ s analysis of kinesthetic sensation, the spatiality of perception has its ground on the transition of thing’ s appearances corresponding to the body’ s movement. The functional cooperation between kinesthetic sensation and the way of thing’ s manifestation works reciprocally in such a way that the motivating and the motivated correlate circularly as two moments within one circumstance of perception. This means that perception has a structure of visual field, which reorganizes itself continuously in regaining stability as soon as it lost equilibrium by transition of sensorial content. A perceived thing obtains its spatial depth in being brought into relief with re-stabilization of this floating field of consciousness. Affection is defined as the propagation of intentional vision, which becomes generated in such a way that consciousness responses to the stimulant exerted by object and world. In this sense, Husserl’ s phenomenological analysis of ‘affective relief’ have something in common with Merleau-Ponty’ s description of depth. For according to Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, the world has its own structural field formed by various levels of protrude and dent, front and background. This means that the world has its own prescribed ‘itinerary of perception’ to be apprehended, after which the intentional vision of subject need to follow in being affected and motivated by the Gestalt of world.

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