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Res Philosophica

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published on December 19, 2013

J. C. Berendzen
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.2014.91.3.2

Disjunctivism and Perceptual Knowledge in Merleau-Ponty and McDowell

On the face of it, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s views bear a strong resemblance to contemporary disjunctivist theories of perception, especially John McDowell’s epistemological disjunctivism. Like McDowell (and other disjunctivists), Merleau-Ponty seems to be a direct realist about perception and holds that veridical and illusory perceptions are distinct. This paper furthers this comparison. Furthermore, it is argued that elements of Merleau-Ponty’s thought provide a stronger case for McDowell’s kind of epistemological view than McDowell himself provides. Merleau-Ponty’s early thought can be used to develop a unique version of epistemological disjunctivism that is worth consideration alongside contemporary views on perceptual knowledge.

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