Institution and Passivity: Course Notes from the College de France (1954-1955)

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Institution and Passivity is based on course notes for classes Merleau-Ponty taught at the Collège de France. Philosophically, this collection connects the issue of passive constitution of meaning with the dimension of history, furthering discussions and completing arguments started in The Visible and the Invisible and Signs, both published by Northwestern. Leonard Lawlor and Heath Massey's translation makes available in English a critical transitional text in the development of Merleau-Ponty's later thought and in the history of phenomenology.

Traditionally in phenomenology, the formation of sense was attributed to the active process of bestowing meaning through consciousness-the process of constitution. Husserl and Merleau-Ponty made pioneering efforts to show how sense, prior to constitution, is also instituted, a process Husserl refers to as Stiftung (institution). This process is historical, appearing in the domains of life, feeling, art, knowledge, and culture. It involves the activity and passivity not only of consciousness but also of the lived body, which is the subject of sleep, dreams, delusions, and memory. Merleau-Ponty's research into these topics thus deepens his study of Husserl and others, including Lévi-Strauss, Sartre, Freud, and Proust. Institution and Passivity connects the process of institution with the dimension of history and hence "institutions" in the sociohistorical sense, turning toward an ontology of the perceived world in which present meanings are intertwined with pastness.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961), along with Sartre, introduced phenomenology to France. nHe held the chair of Child Psychology and Pedagogy at the University of the Sorbonne, which was later held by Jean Piaget. He then became professor of philosophy at the Collège de France.

Leonard Lawlor is the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University. He previously translated Merleau-Ponty’s Husserl at the Limits of Phenomenology for Northwestern University Press.

Heath Massey is an assistant professor of philosophy at Beloit College.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Claude Lefort ix

Editor's Note to the French Edition xxxiii

Translators' Note xxxv

Part 1 Institution in Personal and Public History

Introduction 5

Institution and Life 16

Institution of a Feeling 28

The Institution of a Work of Art 41

Institution of a Domain of Knowledge 50

The Field of Culture 58

Historical Institution: Particularity and Universality 62

Summary for Thursday's Course: Institution in Personal and Public History 76

Endnotes for the Course on Institution 80

Part 2 The Problem of Passivity: Sleep, the Unconscious, Memory

Philosophy and the Phenomenon of Passivity 117

For an Ontology of the Perceived World 133

Sleep 138

Perceptual Consciousness and Imagining Consciousness 146

Symbolism 151

Dreams 156

The Freudian Unconscious 162

Delusions: Gradiva 170

The Case of Dora 177

The Problem of Memory 191

Appendix: Three Notes on the Freudian Unconscious 199

Summary for Monday's Course: The Problem of Passivity: Sleep, the Unconscious, Memory 206

Reading Notes on Proust 210

Reading Notes on Freud 216

Endnotes for the Course on Passivity 233

Bibliography of Texts Relevant to the Courses on Institution and Passivity 253

Index 257

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