Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception and Environmental Education

Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception and Environmental Education
Shlomit Tamari

Much has been written about subject-object dualism and the way it distorts our genuine relation to the world. This book focuses on Merleau-Ponty's critique of traditional ontology and shows how it can contribute to education, and especially to education with regard to responsibility towards nature. Some of the ways in which the subject-object dualism, characteristic to philosophy and psychology, creates alienation are discussed and explained. This study argues that Merleau-Ponty's 'field of perception' can serve as a key concept that enables us to adopt a more comprehensive understanding of ourselves in the world. By starting with the body, as it is revealed to the subject in the act of perception, Merleau-Ponty identifies the significant mistakes which encourage a person to escape from reality and to flee into the virtual and abstract world. It also helps to refute the belief in technological progress as the so called marvelous solution to the challenges presented by our relationship with nature. The conclusions regarding education that stem from this study enable us to criticize and evaluate important educational ideas and to offer a new direction. These conclusions indicate that partnership and responsibility are part of our ontological situation. We are thrown into partnership with other beings and at an early age we learn that cooperation is essential in the search for truth. Such an approach reveals the shallowness of educational philosophies that concentrate on the individual while encouraging competition as the main key to success. These arguments relate to contemporary environmental thinking. The study discusses the environmental writings of Edward Wilson, Vandana Shiva, Sandra Steingraber, Rachel Carson and others. The discussion strengthens the argument that knowing the limitations of the rationalist-empiricist approach may lead to better cooperation between peoples and between scientific disciplines. An exaggerated belief in subject-object dualism and the lack of readiness to question their cultural situation has caused ''experts'' to create a blocked perceptual field. On the other hand, writers who endeavor to understand the global environmental situation in all its manifestations, suggest an approach that can be compared to the phenomenology of perception, which creates a lucid and unequivocal field of perception that leads to action. From the series Interpretation and Culture Interpretation and Culture – A Series Edited by: Prof. Avi Sagi Man's nature is to interpret. Human beings, as individuals and as members of a society, are constantly engaged in the interpretation of their deeds, their values, their world and entire realm of activity. The act of interpretation is not the exclusive domain of scholars who research culture. Rather, it is first and foremost, common to every person in this world who strives to find meaning in all spheres of his activity. The act of interpretation is one of the distinguishing characteristics of human existence. Man as a creative thinker is not content with action alone. On the contrary, his acts are accompanied by explanation aimed at understanding. The art of interpretation is usually imbedded in the physical act itself. It is not confined to the light of awareness and methodological consciousness. However, at times interpretation becomes the main focus of study and our attention is diverted from practice to theory. This transition marks the beginning of a new interpretive approach to the study of different areas of human activity by means of deciphering, analysis and description. Such work is carried out by the theoretician and interpretation becomes an independent research discipline. The series ''Interpretation and Culture'' deals with interpretative instances. The books in the series treat the field of interpretation in various aspects: interpretation of literary, philosophical and theological texts, and interpretation of cultures and societies. Each and every book strives to propose an original, challenging interpretive reading.

Danacode:   110-20112 ISBN:  978-965-226-329-2 Language:   Hebrew Pages:   202 Weight:   330 gr Dimensions:  16X23 cm Publication Date:   01/2008 Publisher:   Bar-Ilan University Press

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