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Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 3, 1977

Wesley Morriston
Pages 793-811

Perceptual Synthesis in the Philosophy of Merleau-Ponty

The chief purpose of this paper is to clarify and evaluate Merleau-Ponty's account of perceptual synthesis. Since he develops his own view in the context of a critique of empiricism and idealism, I begin with a brief sketch of his reasons for rejecting their accounts of perception. What I then try to do is to show that Merleau-Ponty's own view, when fully and clearly stated, fails to escape all of the difficulties that he finds in those empiricist and idealist accounts that he rejects. In particular, I will suggest, his claim that the sensory content of experience must have a form and structure of its own tells as much against his own account of perceptual synthesis as against the empiricist notion of association or the idealist theory of judgment.