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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 60, Issue 3, September 2020

K. Lauriston Smith
Pages 307-322

Entering the World
Perception in Merleau-Ponty and Critical Realism

There is a significant lack of clarity among critical realists in the language they use to discuss perception. In this paper I illustrate this lack of clarity and then argue that a critical realist view of perception is best understood as conceiving of perception as an active process in direct contact with the world. I connect this view with the thought of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s views of perception and embodiment and argue that seeing this point has implications for our understanding of perception by offering a path through the direct/indirect debate. It suggests challenges both to the definition of knowledge as justified true belief and to the reduction of knowledge to effectiveness. It bears on the question of truth insofar as it challenges the view that truth can be reduced to propositions.

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