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From the Embodied Cogito to the Flesh of the Cogito

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Chapter Summary

In the chapter entitled "The Cogito" in the Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty aims at reformulating the Cartesian cogito. He points out that the cogito is a historical idea and it is so only through actual thinking. He says: "It is I who reconstitute the historical cogito, I who read Descartes' text, I who recognize in it an undying truth, so that finally the Cartesian cogito acquires its significance only through my own cogito, and I should have no thought of it, had I not within myself all that is needed to invent it". These lines give the basic idea of Merleau-Ponty's understanding of history. Merleau-Ponty argues that the cogito we find by reading Descartes is a mere verbal cogito, a spoken cogito. It is an idea we find, like the idea of the triangle, as an always existing truth.

Keywords: cogito; existing truth; Merleau-Ponty; Phenomenology of Perception

10.1163/9789004261341_008
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