Our bodily experience of movement is not a particular case of knowledge; it provides us with a way of access to the world and the object , with a ‘praktognosia’, which has to be recognized as original and perhaps as primary – M. Merleau-Ponty
But in contrast to Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty explored in considerable detail the crucial role of human embodiment and its relation to “being in the world.” Merleau-Ponty’s view of the importance of embodiment is expressed in the quotation cited above, where he speaks of knowing the world through the body, and there is a sense in which our analysis starts from this idea of embodied knowledge. We see it as a key element of place-making and of the processes through which places become remarkable to those who inhabit them.
However, we should stress that the influence of Merleau-Ponty is not limited to a general theoretical perspective. His ideas also point toward storymapping, the basic methodological tool of our inquiry. Consider the following passage: “The lived is certainly lived by me, nor am I ignorant of the feelings I repress, and in this sense there is no unconscious. But I can experience more things than I can represent to myself, and my being is not reducible to what expressly appears to me concerning myself“.
Before providing a more detailed account of our research, we note that the forms of embodied knowledge discussed by Merleau-Ponty have both practical and aesthetic value. They enable and inform new ways of appreciating the sensual properties of the world. For the naturalists, who were one of the many groups in our study, the source of aesthetic pleasure is an edge place, an undeveloped area located next to a small city. While the naturalists do not reside in this place, they inhabit it, as Merleau-Ponty might say. Their capacity to appreciate its extraordinary qualities has been cultivated and refined over time. This may not be dwelling in a fully Heideggerian sense: it does not presuppose an idealized rural setting. But it reminds us that development in its many forms entails both a loss of certain kinds of place and a loss of the sensibilities grounded in a deep knowledge of place. Understanding and honouring these sensibilities is a basic goal of this research.
via Imaging Place:.