Merleau-Ponty and the Art of Perception

Edited by Duane H. Davis & William S. Hamrick

Subjects: Phenomenology, Aesthetics, Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438459585, 336 pages, January 2017
Hardcover : 9781438459592, 336 pages, April 2016

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations, Chapter 5

William S. Hamrick

Part I. : Context and Orientation

1. The Art of Perception
Duane H. Davis

2. Concluding Scientific Postscript
William S. Hamrick

Part II. : Interpretations

3. Cohesion and Expression: Merleau-Ponty on Cezanne
Jessica Wiskus

4. Echoes of Brushstrokes
Marta Nijhuis

5. From Edmund Husserl’s Image Consciousness to Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Flesh and Chiasm: The Phenomenological Essence of Image
Sara J. Northerner

6. Carnal Language and the Reversibility of Architecture: Modernism, Postmodernism, and Merleau-Ponty’s Theory of Signs
Bryan E. Norwood

7. Architecture and Voices of Silence
Patricia M. Locke

8. The Philosopher of Modern Life: Baudelaire, Merleau-Ponty, and the Art of Phenomenological Critique
Duane H. Davis

9. The Flesh Made Word: As I Lay Dying and Being Incarnate
Cheryl A. Emerson

10. Listening in Depth: Reading Merleau-Ponty Alongside Nancy
Galen A. Johnson

11. Art and the Overcoming of the Discourse of Modernity
William S. Hamrick

12. Tactile Cogito: Horizons of Corporeity, Animality, and Affect in Merleau-Ponty
Robert Switzer

13. The Chiasm as a Virtual: A Non-concept in Merleau-Ponty’s Work (with a Coda on Theatre)
Marcello Vitali Rosati


Philosophers and artists consider the relevance of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy for understanding art and aesthetic experience.


This collection of essays brings together diverse but interrelated perspectives on art and perception based on the philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Although Merleau-Ponty focused almost exclusively on painting in his writings on aesthetics, this collection also considers poetry, literary works, theater, and relationships between art and science. In addition to philosophers, the contributors include a painter, a photographer, a musicologist, and an architect. This widened scope offers important philosophical benefits, testing and providing evidence for the empirical applicability of Merleau-Ponty's aesthetic writings. The central argument is that for Merleau-Ponty the account of perception is also an account of art and vice versa. In the philosopher's writings, art and perception thus intertwine necessarily rather than contingently such that they can only be distinguished by abstraction. As a result, his account of perception and his account of art are organic, interdependent, and dynamic. The contributors examine various aspects of this intertwining across different artistic media, each ingeniously revealing an original perspective on this intertwining.

Duane H. Davis is Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and the editor of Merleau-Ponty's Later Works and Their Practical Implications: The Dehiscence of Responsibility. William S. Hamrick is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He is the coauthor (with Jan Van der Veken) of Nature and Logos: A Whiteheadian Key to Merleau-Ponty's Fundamental Thought; author of Kindness and the Good Society: Connections of the Heart; and the coeditor (with Suzanne L. Cataldi) of Merleau-Ponty and Environmental Philosophy: Dwelling on the Landscapes of Thought, all published by SUNY Press.