Nishida and Merleau-Ponty: Art, “Depth,” and “Seeing without a Seer”

European Journal of Japanese Philosophy 1:47-74 (2016)
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This paper sets Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Nishida Kitarō in dialogue and explore the interpretations of artistic expression, which inform their similar phenomenological accounts of perception. I discuss how both philosophers look to artistic practice to reveal multi-perspectival aspects of vision. They do so, I argue, by going beyond a “positivist” representational under-standing of perception and by including negative aspects of visual experience as constitutive of vision. Following this account, I interpret artworks by Cézanne, Guo Xi, Rodin, and Hasegawa according to the versions of multi-perspectival vision articulated by Nishida and Merleau-Ponty. I conclude by highlighting a difference between Merleau-Ponty’s “depth” and Nishida’s “seeing without a seer” regarding the extent to which each of their philosophies de-substantialize and de-localize human vision.



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Adam Loughnane
University College, Cork

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