Merleau-Ponty on Meaning, Materiality, and Structure

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Against David Schenck's interpretation, I argue that it is not absolutely clear that Merleau-Ponty ever meant to replace what Schenck refers to as the "unity of meanings" interpretation of "structure" with a "material meanings" interpretation. A particular problem-setting -- for example, an attempt to understand the "truth in naturalism" or the "truth in dualism" -- may very well require a particular mode of expression. I argue that the mode of expression chosen by Merleau-Ponty for these purposes, while unfortunate in some of its apparent implications, need not be interpreted as recommitting him to the doctrine he spent his life working to renounce. I have argued that this would have been clearer had he been able to avail himself of James J. Gibson's notion of affordances, which capture perfectly what he was reaching for.
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Archival date: 2015-11-21
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