Perception and self‐awareness in Merleau‐Ponty and Martin

European Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):1028-1040 (2022)
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Abstract

Merleau-Ponty suggests that to perceive is to be “geared into” the world. In perceiving, we are related to a temporally structured modal space of bodily possibilities that is co-constituted by the body and the world. When we perceive, we are “geared into” this structure and responsive to it; when we misperceive, we are not. In misperceiving, we are unaware of our failure to be geared into the world, and in this respect, we lack awareness of what we are doing. In explaining misperception via this lack of self-awareness, Merleau-Ponty anticipates a key feature of M. G. F. Martin's epistemic disjunctivism: the idea that perceptions and misperceptions can be indiscriminable because of a self-awareness we lack, rather than a set of positive phenomenal features that two experiences share. However, because Merleau-Ponty's account of self-awareness imposes relatively few cognitive demands, he is able to explain how adults, infants, and dogs can be self-aware in the same sense, and how they can fail to discriminate between their experiences in the same way. This provides Merleau-Ponty with the resources to answer Susanna Siegel's objection to epistemic disjunctivism on the basis of “cognitively unsophisticated hallucinators.”

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David Suarez
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

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References found in this work

The limits of self-awareness.Michael G. F. Martin - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 120 (1-3):37-89.
The Problem of Perception.A. D. Smith - 2002 - Philosophical Quarterly 54 (217):640-642.
Merleau-Ponty and Naïve Realism.Keith Allen - 2019 - Philosophers' Imprint 19.
Merleau‐Ponty's Account of Hallucination.Komarine Romdenh-Romluc - 2009 - European Journal of Philosophy 17 (1):76-90.

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