In Kascha Semonovitch Neal DeRoo (ed.), Merleau-Ponty at the Limits of Art, Religion, and Perception. Continuum. pp. 63 (2010)

Gabrielle Jackson
State University of New York, Stony Brook
The mechanistic concept of the body, as inherited from René Descartes, has generated considerable trouble in philosophy—including, at least in part, the mind-body problem itself. Still, the corps mécanique remains perhaps the most prevalent though least examined assumption in recent philosophy of mind. I discuss two notable exceptions. Gilbert Ryle and Maurice Merleau-Ponty rejected this assumption for surprisingly similar reasons. Writing at about the same time, though in different languages and in very different circles, they each attempted to articulate a non-mechanistic concept of the body by stressing the importance of skill: skillful behavior constituting cognition in Ryle’s case, and the skill body constituting perception in Merleau-Ponty’s case. In this article, I turn to their cautions and insights. By drawing out the relation between these two seemingly unrelated theorists, I hope to show that together Ryle and Merleau-Ponty have much to offer philosophy today.
Keywords skill  Ryle  Merleau-Ponty  Descartes
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