Merleau-Ponty’s Transcendental Theory of Perception

In Sebastian Gardner & Matthew Grist (eds.), The Transcendental Turn. Oxford University Press UK (2015)
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This chapter argues that Merleau-Ponty’s account of perception should be understood, not as a theory of perception in the usual sense, but as belonging squarely to transcendental philosophy. Contra the interpretation of Phenomenology of Perception as essentially a work in the philosophy of psychology, and the associated naturalistic construal of his ideas, it is suggested that Merleau-Ponty must be seen in the light of the history of transcendental philosophy and that an original form of idealism lies at the heart of his philosophical project. The transcendental turn is presupposed by Merleau-Ponty’s claims regarding perception, and his key notion of ambiguity is a transcendental descendant of Kant’s strategy of establishing idealism by way of antinomy.



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Sebastian Gardner
University College London

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