Athens, OH: Ohio University Press (2021)

Peter Antich
Trinity College
In "Motivation and the Primacy of Perception," I offer an interpretation and defense of Merleau-Ponty's thesis of the "primacy of perception," namely, that knowledge is ultimately founded in perceptual experience. I use Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological conception of "motivation" as an interpretative key. As I show, motivation in this sense amounts to a novel form of epistemic grounding, one which upends the classical dichotomy between reason and natural causality, justification and explanation. The purpose of my book is to show how this novel conception of epistemic ground allows Merleau-Ponty to offer a radically new account of knowledge and its relation to perception. Over the course of seven chapters, I show that through the notion of motivation, Merleau-Ponty offers a compelling alternative to the empiricist and rationalist assumptions that underpin modern epistemology. Indeed, I argue that Merleau-Ponty's epistemological thinking is preferable to its major historical and contemporary competitors, including what I see as the other great alternative to rationalism and empiricism: Kant's transcendental idealism. Bridging phenomenology, philosophy of mind, and cognitive science, "Motivation and the Primacy of Perception" argues that epistemology has long been hampered by an inadequate phenomenology of knowledge. However, a careful description of the phenomenon of motivation can offer compelling new ways to think about knowledge and longstanding epistemological questions.
Keywords Merleau-Ponty  Phenomenology  Epistemology  Perceptual Knowledge
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Reprint years 2021
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ISBN(s) 0821424327   9780821424322
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