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When the Trees Look Back: Reversibility and the Genesis of Sense in Merleau-Ponty's Ontology of Art

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Title: When the Trees Look Back: Reversibility and the Genesis of Sense in Merleau-Ponty's Ontology of Art
Author: Hicks, Jeannette
Department: Department of Philosophy
Program: Philosophy
Advisor: Mitscherling, Jeff
Abstract: Meaning or sense [sens] is traditionally thought to be bestowed by a subject, or found ready-made within the world. Against these views Merleau-Ponty develops an account of the genesis of sense in which it arises from the mutually formative relation between an intentionally directed body and the perceptual levels of the world. In this thesis I explore the implications of Merleau-Ponty's theory of sense for the work of art, arguing ultimately that artistic sense arises from a reversible relation between artist and world, intention and process, historical works and artistic goals, viewer and work. This account deepens through an analysis of the ontology of the Flesh through which we find that sense, as the intentional being of the body and the world, is what constitutes subject and object in the first place. Through a folding back on itself, being senses itself and gives rise to a generative difference through which new sense can emerge in perception, expression and aesthetic experience.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/7732
Date: 2013-09


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