lived world beneath the objective world

More generally, the idea of a universe of thought or a universe of values in which all thinking lives would be brought together and reconciled is thrown into question. Nature is not in itself geometrical, it only appears so to a careful observer who limits himself to the macroscopic givens. Human society is not a community of reasonable minds, it can only be understood as such in privileged countries where vital and economic equilibrium has been established locally and for a certain length of time. The experience of chaos, on the speculative plane as much as on the other, leads us to see rationalism from an historical perspective that it claimed on principle to escape, to seek a philosophy that could render intelligible the springing forth of reason in a world that it did not create, and to prepare the living infrastructure without which reason and freedom are emptied or break down. We will no longer say that perception is a nascent science, bur rather that classical science is a perception that has forgotten its origins and believes itself to be complete. The fundamental philosophical act would thus be to return to the lived world beneath the objective world (since in this lived world we will be able to understand the law as much as the limits of the objective world); it would be to give back to the thing its concrete physiognomy, to the organisms their proper manner of dealing with the world, and to subjectivity its historical inherence; it would be to rediscover phenomena (the layer of living experience through which other people and things are first given to us, the system “Self-Others-things” in its nascent state); it would be to awaken perception and to thwart the ruse by which perception allowed itself to be forgotten as a fact and as perception to the benefit of the object that it delivers to us and of the rational tradition that it establishes.

Phenomenology of Perception, The Phenomenal Field – Maurice Merleau-Ponty

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