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Essays listed in chronological order starting with most recent. For archives, please see previous volumes below.
  • Writer's pictureRudy Bauer

Phenomenology of the Essence and Appearance in Merleau Ponty

Phenomenology of the Essence and Appearance in Merleau Ponty

By Rudolph Bauer, Phd Fri, Sep 28, 2012

Rudolph Bauer,Ph.D., Author

1.For Husserl phenomenology is an experiential philosophy of essence as phenomena. For Husserl there is the indivisibility of the essence and the manifestation of the essence which manifestation is phenomena, the manifestation of appearance. This was Husserl’s great contribution to philosophy, the inseparability of essence and phenomena. Merleau Ponty made this the focus of his philosophical work.

Essence as phenomena

2. Essence is the essence of something. The essence of being, the essence of some quality, the essence of some dimension of experience are examples of essence and its relationship to phenomena. Phenomena and the essence of phenomena are within non duality and are indivisible. Phenomena and the noumenon are within non duality and are indivisible. Being and the appearance of Being as beings are in non duality and indivisible within the very duality of appearance. Appearance as phenomena are dualistic. There is a me and a you and we are indivisible.

Essence is manifested in phenomena as the phenomena. Phenomena is the manifestation of essence. This understanding that essence and phenomena are not in opposition dissolves many philosophical and theological impasse’s and the violent splitting of the actuality of reality. This understanding opens up the possibility of experiencing pure primordial awareness as manifesting our own singular subjectivity. Pure awareness is essence and our subjectivity in time and space is the phenomena.

3.For Plato and much of ancient philosophy(not the presocratics) the essence was the unchanging and subtle idea, a subtle dimension of being. There was opposition between the ephemeral world of the senses and the essence of reality. There was a split between the world and the essence of reality. This split is played out both in western philosophy and theology as well as eastern philosophy. The split was expressed in vedic philosophy as the split between consciousness and prakrti(flesh). In buddhist philosophy there was a split between ultimate reality as emptiness and the appearance of phenomena. The appearing of phenomena of human life was considered deluded and illusionary. Some would consider this very splitting of essence and phenomena as the true grand illusion and deludedness. As human experience is validated, except for the rare few who become realized.

In psychoanalysis there was a foundational splitting between phenomena and noumena. The split was a function of dynamics for un knowning such as foreclosure, repression, denial. This foundational split is found in both western and eastern traditions of philosophy. Jung ‘s struggle was with understanding the intimate relationship between phenomena and noumenon. In Jung’s thinking the relationship was between known experience and unknown source, between consciousness and unconsciousness. He searched for the medium of indivisibility.

4. Merleau Ponty focused on the actuality that essence and phenomena are indivisible. Phenomena is the manifestation of the noumenon. the essence. The essence can not be detached from the phenomenal form. The essence makes its appearance in the world as phenomena. The essence may not itself be limited to the sensible but can manifest itself in sensorial form. There may be different levels of manifestation or different dimensions of manifestation of the singular essence. The phenomena and noumena are intimately related. The essence and its manifestation are intimately related and are actually in non duality. Non duality manifesting in duality. Non duality manifested within dualistic appearance.

As was already described there is foundational split found in certain forms of buddhism and vedic philosophy. The unhappy and nihilistic views of the world as not being real, and the realm of appearance is delusion…

The Iconic Openness of Phenomenon as Appearing

5.Merleau Ponty continues that the essence can be experienced from the iconography of vision and experience. The essence is not simply a contemplative reflection, but essence presents itself within corporeal vision, The field and medium of the flesh are indivisible. To know is not limited to thinking conceptually but we can see and gaze non conceptually and directly into the place of essence. Essence can be known non conceptually and experienced directly. Understanding can be thought free. Direct knowingness is natural and is non duality within duality. This is the phenomenology of the icon, the iconic view of reality. The iconic view of Being manifesting through beings as Being.

6.Essence can be the very presence of the thing appearing. There can be the representation of the thing and there can be the appearing of thing. Representation is only one form of knowning. Representation is not experiencing the essence of what is. The mapping is not the experience of the territory. Representational thinking and representational conceptualizing is the mapping of experience knowing the experienced.

7.The visible bears the invisible within itself, inside itself. The language of the icon takes us beyond representational knowning and representational thought. Thinking and conceptualizing is one kind of knowingness. The iconic opening expresses the essence becoming visible experientially. The icon is the place where the invisible becomes visible. The visibility of the invisible, the visibility is where the invisible appears. The iconic place, the icon space, the iconic openness of phenomena is the indivisibleness between the visible and the invisible. Being and the appearing of beings are indivisible and all beings are iconic doorways. The realm of the flesh and medium of the flesh is iconic.

8. The experience of Primordial being is as Merleau Ponty describes is beyond representation thinking and yet is not invisible to non conceptual direct perception of open awareness.

Embodiment as Medium of the Field

9.Embodment manifest in us within space and time. Our embodying is embodying the medium of the field. The field of being is manifesting within the dimension of flesh. The field of flesh moves itself through us and is the expression of spaciousness. This experience of the flesh is experiencing the essence of luminous spaciousness. The body illuminates the phenomenological flow of the field of the world which is the Field of Being manifesting within this dimension of flesh.

10.This essence can be grasped from the iconography of vision. The classical essence as Husserl’s description as being constituted by the mind in noetic noematic frame is replaced by contemplative awareness and non conceptual thought. The essence presents itself within corporeal vision. Essence can be known nonconceptually and then language and represented in various ways of words and sentences. There are many words and languages that approximate essence but no word holds the whole experience. Language is limited. This is the phenomenology of the iconic view of Being manifesting through beings with languaging referencing the experience in approximation.

11. Essence is within the very presence of the thing, There can be the representation of the thing, and there can be the appearing of the thing. The appearing of the thing as Being manifesting as thing. This essence is ultimately is no thing and arising from within this no thing can be everything and anything. There is always some distance between language and experience.

12.The visible bears the invisible inside. The experience of icon takes us beyond representational knowning or represenatational thought and language. There is direct and indirect knowning of essence. The icon expresses the innermost relation. The icon is the place where the invisible becomes visible. The visibility of the invisible. The visibility where the invisible appears as such, the iconic place, iconic openness of phenomena.

Embodiment As Phenomenological Flow of Singular Essence

13.My body manifest within space and time. Our body is the medium of the field of the world, the field of being manifesting as this dimension of flesh. The field of flesh sounds itself through us and is the expression of spaciousness. The understanding of the flesh of the field deconcretizes the body and illuminates the phenomenological flow of the field of world which is the field of BEING manifesting within this corporeal dimension. Embodiment is a relatedness of the field of the world and is a hollow or fold or flesh of openness which is made and can be unmade. My consciousness is saturated with limitless blue, the blue of the sky somehow gives self in me. The skill of Merleau Ponty is the expression and realization of how subjectivity is de concretized , de entified or de -reified, de -objectified, de-thinged.

No thingness As Essence of Phenomena

Yes I do exist but I am not a thing…although my body and mind have thing qualities. There is an extension in space but this extension is non materialistic form. No thingness arise in everything and as anything. In this way the essence of phenomena is emptiness as no thingness.

14.The essence of the unfolding understanding of Merleau Ponty in his later work is the non dual relationship within duality and duality non duality. Merleau Ponty will continually try to elaborate how there can be both oneness and twoness. How there can be intertwining between appearance and essence. For Merleau Ponty the experience of flesh as openness will not emerge if you overly reify phenomena.

15. There is infinite manifestation of singular experience. No thingness, manifest fields and the field of fields. These fields in which things, people, creatures, intertwine, interweave, yet there is wonder in each singularity. Everything and everyone is connected within the field. There is the fluidity of all phenomena as all beings are open and within otherness. The indivisibility of twonness within oneness. There is the expandedness and interrelatedness and interpenetration of all beings through the flesh of the field. There is non duality of Being within the beingness of all appearance can be experienced easily.

Intertwining of Phenomena

16.The body is actually embodying. As embodying the self that emerges as embodiment Is foundational. Always emergent among all the being emergence, and of the world. Embodiment is an ongoing upsurge of the, an interweavement, a kind of bringing forth that has the foundation of no thingness and yet is everywhere as the dimension of the flesh of the world is not material drama. These vortices that are en bodying and the perceived of the world are spirals of transformation that find themselves with moments of meaning as the emergence of sensibility. The depth of the world is our participation in Being without restriction, a participation in the being of space. There are transformations of movement within vibrational reality. This embodiment is corporeal. There is confusion between being the dimension of corporealness and equating that quality with not being real or existing. This is untrue. The flesh of the world is spaciousness Viscousity.

The Flesh as indivisibleness of Phenomena

17.The metaphor of flesh allow us to go beyond the thing. For Merleau Ponty there are not simply sensible objects contained within themselves but rather a series of showings, appearances, and emergence of sensual meanings that retains vitality in keeping open the infinite variety among l infinite singular things with infinite singular subjectivities which are openings within and of the field of Being.

18.There is the ongoing transformation and relational intertwining of all beings such that they do not exist independently on their own. Being is being brought forth ceaselessly and in their beings both appearing and disappearing. Time sequencing gives the illusion of fixed thingness.

19.Within the flesh of embodiment there is the experience of spaciousness ,pervading spaciousness, pervading energy and pervading luminosity. This dimension of no thingness is the source of the spiraling vortexual energies, which bring forth ongoing embodiment. This is the dimension of fluid spaciousness. The views of intellectualism and empiricism are ways of the mind alone organizing experiencing of the world.

20.Merleua Ponty works within non duality within duality. His move to non dualism went against the history of western philosophy. Emptiness or Spaciousness or Potentiality is not the embrace of non being or nihilism but rather the sense of intertwining of vortices, of ongoing, foundational emergence or manifestation. The seemingly void of nothingness is the fullness of Being. We are shared embodiment of the field with another. This description is a description of the dimension of flesh. In the language of vajrayana, this is nirmanakaya.

21.The resonating bodies of human beings are part of an enveloping sense that we can enter and penetrate into the flesh of Beingness. The flesh of awareness in which we are intertwined is non dual ontological vibration that everyone communicate through. This vibration is the wild region of being from which everyone has originated or are ceaselessly originating from within. The childhood experience of gnosis is never completely liquidated and may be used in the re-experiencing of direct perception. The feeling of inseparability is present before the age of three and can be reincarnated experientially.

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