The Other in Perception

A Phenomenological Account of Our Experience of Other Persons

By Susan Bredlau

Subjects: Phenomenology, Continental Philosophy, Philosophy, Ethics, Early Childhood Studies
Hardcover : 9781438471716, 138 pages, November 2018
Paperback : 9781438471723, 138 pages, July 2019

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

A Note on Citations

1. Phenomenology

Husserl and Intentionality
Merleau-Ponty and Embodiment
Russon and Polytemporality

2. The Phenomenological Approach to the Experience of Others

Husserl and the “Pairing” Relation
Merleau-Ponty on the Perception of Others
Russon and the Others within Our Own Bodies

3. The Institution of Interpersonal Life

Perceiving through Others: Neonate Imitation, Joint Attention, and Mutual Gaze
Infant-Caregiver Play Periods as “Pairings”
Caregiver “Availability” and the Impact of Pairing Relations on Infant Perception
Pairing and Trust
Russon on Pairing as the Institution of Personality

4. Recognition and Sexuality

Childhood Intimacy and Adult Intimacy
Sexuality as a Bodily Intentionality
Hegel on Recognizing Subjects as Subjects
Sexuality as Embodied Recognition
Sexuality and Interpersonal Vulnerability
Sexuality and Freedom
Conclusion: The Concrete Ethics of Lived Experience


Demonstrates the unique, pervasive, and overwhelmingly important role of other people within our lived experience.


Drawing on the original phenomenological work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Edmund Husserl, Simone de Beauvoir, and John Russon, as well as recent research in child psychology, The Other in Perception argues for perception's inherently existential significance: we always perceive a world and not just objective facts. The world is the rich domain of our personal and interpersonal lives, and central to this world is the role of other people. We are "paired" with others such that our perception is really the enactment of a coinhabiting of a shared world. These relations with others shape the very way in which we perceive our world. Susan Bredlau explores two uniquely formative domains in which our pairing relations with others are particularly critical: childhood development and sexuality. It is through formative childhood experience that the essential, background structures of our world are instituted, which has important consequences for our developed perceptual life. Sexuality is an analogous domain of formative intersubjective experience. Taken as a whole, Bredlau demonstrates the unique, pervasive, and overwhelmingly important role of other people within our lived experience.

Susan Bredlau is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Emory University.


"…a rich phenomenological exploration of the nature of embodied sociality … this is a very engaging book for philosophers as well as an accessible one for educated readers, especially students across disciplines seeking an introduction to phenomenological thought and practice." — Symposium

"The Other in Perception succeeds in bearing out the central idea that 'we are always dealing with other people, whether we notice this explicitly or not.' It effectively blends phenomenology and cognitive science to establish that reality is deeply social, and thus equally a matter of ontology and ethics. This social ontology opens up multiple avenues for further inquiry." — Hypatia Reviews Online

"…a philosophically rich text." — Phenomenological Reviews