Merleau-Ponty’s implicit critique of the new mechanists

Synthese (Suppl 9):1-25 (2018)
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Abstract

I argue (1) that what (ontic) New Mechanistic philosophers of science call mechanisms would be material Gestalten, and (2) that Merleau-Ponty’s engagement with Gestalt theory can help us frame a standing challenge against ontic conceptions of mechanisms. In short, until the (ontic) New Mechanist can provide us with a plausible account of the organization of mechanisms as an objective feature of mind-independent ontic structures in the world which we might discover – and no ontic Mechanist has done so – it is more conservative to claim that mechanistic organization is instead a mind-dependent aspect of our epistemic strategies of mechanistic explanation.

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