Merleau-Ponty and McDowell on the Transparency of the Mind

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McDowell and Merleau-Ponty share a critical attitude towards a certain Cartesian picture of the mind. According to the picture in question nothing which properly belongs to subjectivity can be hidden to the subject herself. Nevertheless there is a striking asymmetry in how the two philosophers portray the problematic consequences of such a picture. They can seem to offer exact opposite views of these consequences, which, given the almost identical characterization of the transparency claim, is puzzling. I argue that a closer look at the prima facie puzzling asymmetry dissolves the apparent disagreement and reveals a deeper agreement concerning both the nature and the origin of the problems haunting the Cartesian picture in question. Both McDowell and Merleau-Ponty argue that on the picture of the relation of between mind and world in question, we lose our grip on the very idea of a perceptual appearance. Furthermore, the two authors regard a certain conception of nature as conceived in the image of science, as one of the crucial elements in making the picture of the mind in question look attractive
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Archival date: 2014-06-26
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