Samantha Matherne
Harvard University
One of the more striking aspects of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception (1945) is his use of psychological case studies in pathology. For Merleau-Ponty, a philosophical interpretation of phenomena like aphasia and psychic blindness promises to shed light not just on the nature of pathology, but on the nature of human existence more generally. In this paper, I show that although Merleau-Ponty is surely a pioneer in this use of pathology, his work is deeply indebted to an earlier philosophical study of pathology offered by the German Neo-Kantian Ernst Cassirer in the third volume of the Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (1929). More specifically, I argue that Merleau-Ponty, in fact, follows Cassirer in placing Kant's notion of the productive imagination at the centre of his account of pathology and the features of existence it illuminates. Recognizing the debt Merleau-Ponty's account of pathology has to the Kantian tradition not only acts as a corrective to more recent interpretation of Merleau-Ponty's views of pathology (Dreyfus, Romdenh-Romluc), but also recommends we resist the prevailing tendency to treat Merleau-Ponty's philosophy as anti-Kantian. Instead, my interpretation seeks to restore Merleau-Ponty's place within the Kantian tradition.
Keywords Kant  Merleau-Ponty  Cassirer  Imagination  Pathology  Phenomenology  Neo-Kantianism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/09608788.2013.876610
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics.Martin Heidegger - 1962 - Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Kant, Non-Conceptual Content and the Representation of Space.Lucy Allais - 2009 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 (3):pp. 383-413.
What Myth?John McDowell - 2007 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 50 (4):338 – 351.
Was Kant a Nonconceptualist?Hannah Ginsborg - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 137 (1):65 - 77.

View all 27 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Kantian Themes in Merleau-Ponty’s Theory of Perception.Samantha Matherne - 2016 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 98 (2):193-230.
Beyond Desartes and Newton: Recovering Life and Humanity.Stuart A. Kauffman & Arran Gare - 2015 - Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 119 (3):219-244.
The Sound of Silence: Merleau‐Ponty on Conscious Thought.Philip J. Walsh - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (2):312-335.

View all 10 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Image and Ontology in Merleau-Ponty.Trevor Perri - 2013 - Continental Philosophy Review 46 (1):75-97.
Alterity in Merleau-Ponty’s Prose of the World.Bryan Lueck - 2012 - Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 16 (2):425-442.
Body.David Morris - 2008 - In Rosalyn Diprose & Jack Reynolds (eds.), Merleau-ponty: Key Concepts. Acumen Publishing. pp. 111-120.
Merleau‐Ponty and the Phenomenological Reduction.Joel Smith - 2005 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 48 (6):553-571.
Coping Without Foundations: On Dreyfus’s Use of Merleau‐Ponty.J. C. Berendzen - 2010 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (5):629-649.
Merleau-Ponty and the Mystery of Perception.Taylor Carman - 2009 - Philosophy Compass 4 (4):630-638.


Added to PP index

Total views
483 ( #19,310 of 2,519,861 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
38 ( #22,782 of 2,519,861 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes