Volume 50, Issue 2, Summer 2020
Merleau-Ponty’s Account of Appearance
Merleau-Ponty’s account of phenomena, or appearances, and their relation to things themselves, is obviously central to his project as a Phenomenologist. And yet there is no agreed upon interpretation of the account of appearance that he gives in the Phenomenology of Perception: many commentators suggest that that work is ultimately either Idealist or Realist, or even that his account of appearance there is simply inconsistent. In this article, I argue that Merleau-Ponty does, in fact, offer a coherent alternative to Realism and Idealism about appearances in the Phenomenology, and I examine some key features of the account that often give rise to the suspicion of inconsistency. I show that these features only appear inconsistent if we adopt certain assumptions about appearance that Merleau-Ponty would reject, and that we have good reason to question as well.