Subject and Institution -Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Kiyoshi Miki-
Please think about a scene of greetings. In order to express the feeling of regard for others, Japanese people will make a bow, unlike western people who will shake hands. Merleau- Ponty says people in a certain social group share a common “institution”. An institution is a system of meaning that has been built historically, and people live in a same society by learning it.
An institution, which unifies the way of life, certainly has normative nature. It seems static, but an institution is not such an invariable construction. An institution incessantly changes its “form”. Kiyoshi Miki, one of philosophers related to Kyoto School, claims again and again that an institution is a “form”（形）. His notion of form is different from the one of ancient Greek philosophy, which has the aspect of “a priori”. In Miki, Form means something created by the act of “imagination” [Einbildungskraft] historically. In German, this word means human primordial power of creating an “image” or a “form”. An institution is not rigid and invariable, but created again and again and transforms itself historically. There aren’t any institutions that have no relation to living people. An institution is continually created and re-created by people and changes its form.
An institution is often considered as a static object, but Miki and Merleau-Ponty think that people create it again and again. Merleau-Ponty points out this by re-defining the concept of “subject”. He thinks that a “subject” is not the one who “constitutes” objects, but who “institutes”. According to him, an institution is a “hinge” that joins the relationship between people. An institution is created by subjects again and again infinitely.
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