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Seeing Oneself in the Mirror: Critical Reflections on the Visual Experience of the Reflected Self

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Merleau-Ponty, in his well-known essay, "Eye and Mind," startlingly comments: "A Cartesian does not see himself in the mirror; he sees a dummy, an 'outside,' which, he has every reason to believe, other people see in the very same way but which, no more for himself than for others, is not a body in the flesh." This essay opens up a discourse on this very problem: the question of what one sees when looks at oneself in the mirror. As well, the now-common assumption that we have arrived at a postmodern condition of experience, knowledge, and interpretation comes into question when we consider the possibility that the human sciences have not sufficiently embraced a post-Cartesian perspective on mind, body, self, and vision. The essay closes with a reflection on the contact of the self and the other in vision. The self and the other are not "signs" that are "read" in the context of a perceptual field. Rather, the interpersonal world embodied through the vital flesh of self in communion with other is reflected to the eye only if the observer cares to take note, to imaginatively flesh-out the world embodied in the moment of a thoughtful glance.


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