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Phenomenology 2005

Volume 3, Issue Part 2, 2007

Selected Essays from Euro-Mediterranean Area Part 2

Andrea Pinotti
Pages 479-498

The Touchable and the Untouchable
Merleau-Ponty and Bernard Berenson

The essay discusses the role played by touch in relation to sight within Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of the body. In particular this issue will be analyzed in the context of Merleau-Ponty’s aesthetics of painting, taking into consideration his criticism of Berenson’s concept of “tactile values,” volumetric feelings of a third dimension that painting should be able to arouse in spite of its bi-dimensional nature. In rejecting Berenson’s tactile values Merleau-Ponty’s position appears rather closer to the German theorists of pure visibility (reine Sichtbarkeit) in insisting on the exclusive optical destination of painting, a real “total part” which monadologically expresses “la folie de la vision.”

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