Defragmenting experience – from James to Merleau-Ponty

Until recent decades, William James was rarely mentioned in the context of the thought of phenomenologists such as Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger or Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The mentioning of James coincided more with the views of pragmatism, radical empiricism, or pluralism, so it was on rare occasions that the word phenomenology was used in connection with the great American philosopher. But recently, James’ findings are increasingly used in attempts to understand phenomenological thought, where he is also considered as a philosopher who contributed to the development of some phenomenological concepts, such as the notion of Husserl’s “horizon”, “object of thought”, and “intentionality”. His findings are mentioned both in empirical research of experience and in psychological circles. Given the rise of interest in James and the use of his concepts in the theoretical queries of phenomenology, as well as in empirical approaches to the study of consciousness and experience, I want to explore the ideas of the stream of thought and fringe awareness from James’s corpus by approaching the idea through the lens of Merleau-Ponty’s thought. My overall goal in this text is to show how the latter’s phenomenological explorations can help to enrich the former’s endeavours. Continue reading Defragmenting experience – from James to Merleau-Ponty