The theory of the body
As we indicated,1 it is possible to see the centrality of the problem of the body for Merleau-Ponty in another manner. The body arises as a specific "problem" for him in the course of a critical exposition of traditional theories of sensuous perception. At every point in theories of this kind one is necessarily led to a theory of the nature of sensuousness in general. In different terms: traditional theories of sensuous perception were mainly theories of sensuous ">knowledge; studies of sense perception were directed towards the solution of questions concerning the conditions, possibility, and "sources," of knowledge — one of these "stems" of knowledge (as, for instance, in Locke or Kant) being sensuousness (Sinnlichkeit). 2 Just in so far as this was the case, however, the nature of sensuousness was simply presupposed, not itself made thematic; and the presupposition, we have seen, was that sensuousness is fundamentally passive and receptive. To sense perceive is simply to suffer, to be receptive, and thus actually to be modified by the thing perceived in some manner. And, the theories of perception built on this presupposition followed the style of it.
Zaner, R. (1971). The theory of the body, in The problem of embodiment, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 149-197.
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