Merleau-Ponty on cultural schemas and childhood drawing
Like his colleague and friend Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty rejected the idea that the unconscious is radically separate from our conscious experience. Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology elucidates how many aspects of experience are "unconscious" insofar as they resist categorization through "cultural schemas"—i.e., traditional cultural and scientific models. Such elements of experience are not barred from becoming conscious; they are not buried deep within our psyches. Rather, they form our perceptual experience, hidden by our linguistic and cultural norms. In this paper, I take up Merleau-Ponty's discussion of childhood drawing. Alongside Tony O'Connor's work on Merleau-Ponty's understanding of the unconscious and ambiguity, I demonstrate that childhood drawing shows how deeply cultural schemas can limit our representations of perceptual experience.
Welsh, T. (2012)., Merleau-Ponty on cultural schemas and childhood drawing, in J. Jansen (ed.), Critical communities and aesthetic practices, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 37-48.
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