Kantian Themes in Merleau-Ponty’s Theory of Perception

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It has become typical to read Kant and Merleau-Ponty as offering competing approaches to perceptual experience. Kant is interpreted as an ‘intellectualist’ who regards perception as conceptual ‘all the way out’, while Merleau-Ponty is seen as Kant’s challenger, who argues that perception involves non-conceptual, embodied ‘coping’. In this paper, however, I argue that a closer examination of their views of perception, especially with respect to the notion of ‘schematism’, reveals a great deal of historical and philosophical continuity between them. By analyzing Kant’s theory of schematism, the interpretation of it by the Neo-Kantian Pierre Lachièze-Rey, and Merleau-Ponty’s theory of the body schema, we find that aspects of Merleau-Ponty’s theory of perception are better understood as a development of Kant’s theory of perception.
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Archival date: 2017-10-17
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