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Maurice Merleau-Ponty: How to Know Reality? Research Paper

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Updated: May 22nd, 2021

Maurice Merleau-Ponty is best recognized as a theorist of science on behalf of his thorough examinations of psychology (Sacrini, 2013, p. 721). Conceivably, for this reason, the implication of his exertion for a comprehensive theoretical reproduction on science has been discounted. Nonetheless, Merleau-Ponty envisioned his research as an overall examination of the epistemological and ontological position of connotation and configuration. The arrangements that were exposed by the means of the exploration in solid-state physical science or molecular environmental science have to be contained within the possibility of his analysis on the same level as the more principal perceptual constructions of tint or optical profundity. It is not a secret that he frequently claimed that science is not able to provide an explanation for or comprehend a certain spectacle, and continued to provide dissimilarities between his phenomenological findings and the insufficient investigates created by science.

Nonetheless, at the time when Merleau-Ponty used the term ‘science’ in this manner, he applied the definition of the term in the tight connection with ‘unprejudiced supposition’. The mission continues to be concluded in depicting that methodical exploration could be unregulated from the canonic preconceptions of unprejudiced supposition as well and displayed as a manner of the actuality of a person. Merleau-Ponty was undecided about this opportunity; moreover, he hardly ever divided his scientific research into different themes within the framework of his studies. The primary target of this paper, conversely, is to progress an existential formation of science in the interior of Merleau-Ponty’s investigation. Moreover, the following questions will be answered: what is science, what is a reality, what exactly is the world and how does it relate to the concept of nature. It appears to be obvious that his research is not able to be accomplished except in cases when it integrates science, and not merely the figure and the apparent domain, poesy, and antiquity, portrait, and affection.

By this time in his work ‘La Structure du Comportement’, Merleau-Ponty asserted that the notion of ‘structure’ or ‘form’ implemented by the conventional psychologists has to be protracted to the corporeal disciplines in addition: “But in reality, what Kohler shows with a few examples ought to be extended to all physical laws: they express a structure and have meaning only within this structure” (Sacrini, 2013, p. 725). Merleau-Ponty’s dispute towards this prerogative will be accustomed to the academics of science. The notions and regulations that are advanced in science are not able to be devoted to the world separately, solely in the framework of the organizational unity, for the reason that any effort to equal corporeal regulation or philosophy with the world introduces a congregation of various other concepts and hypothetically conversant explanations for preliminary settings into the composition. “The physical experiment is never the revelation of an isolated causal series: one verifies that the observed effect indeed obeys the presumed law by taking into account a series of conditions, such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, altitude, in brief, a certain number of laws which constitute the proper object of the experiment” (Crowther, 2015, p. 262).

Merleau-Ponty was, for the most part, anxious to examine the metaphysical and theoretical implication within the framework of ‘structure’. In ‘La Structure du Comportement’, his primary aim of research appeared to practicality. A construction (or an arrangement of corresponding regulations in science) is not able to be observed as an item present within itself; on the other hand, it has to be disclosed to a distinguishing perception. As a consequence, ‘form’ is not a corporeal actuality, but an item of discernment; deprived of it corporal science would fail to have any connotation. “Form cannot be defined in terms of reality but in terms of knowledge, not as a thing of the perceived world but as a perceived whole” (Dufourcq, 2015, p. 47).

On the other hand, it is inadequate to state that ‘structure’ all the time appears to be fundamentally connected to perception, deprived of illustrating the matter of that connection. Merleau-Ponty was in the same way adamant that ‘structure’ is not able to be established by a perception utterly in proprietorship of the aforementioned. His primary purpose in ‘Phénoménologie de la Perception’ was to examine and challenge the common expectations that endorsed realism and idealism to give the impression of the contrasting and meticulous philosophical substitutes. As a consequence, merely afterward the reimbursement of the groundwork can we progress a more satisfactory theoretical clarification of the connection among perception, the constructions of systematic regulations of science, and the apparent domain?

Realist explanations of systematic concepts of science have been broadly disputed in the current viewpoint of science. A vast amount of the opinions towards systematic practicality obtain their strength from the critical assessments of idealism. The opinions of Merleau-Ponty against realism, and his effort to express a nonidealist substitute to it have a duty to appear as more than merely a traditional attention to the topic for that reason. Merleau-Ponty’s debates against the antinomy of realism and idealism along with his perceptions of reality and science advanced in several periods. In the beginning, he claimed that neither the physical form nor the apparent domain can be unstated on the foundation of this philosophy. After that, there was the disagreement, which was protracted to incorporate all systems of traditional countenance, science comprised as well.

This approach is for the most part significant for the incident of science, as Merleau-Ponty disputed that the connotation of systematic notions and regulations is reliant on the world as revealed by the means of discernment.

The whole universe of science is built upon the world as directly experienced, and if we want to subject science itself to rigorous scrutiny and arrive at a precise assessment of its meaning and scope, we must begin by reawakening the basic experience of the world of which science is a second-order expression. (Dufourcq, 2015, p. 48)

To provide the answers to the questions that were stated at the beginning of the essay, we have to provide some consideration of Merleau-Ponty’s explanations for perception, the physical form, and the apparent domain that he observed as the substance of other expressive constructions. Canonical investigates of observation start with perceptions that are reserved to be the assumed foundation for the perceptual practice.


Crowther, P. (2015). The poetry of ‘flesh’ or the reality of perception? Merleau-Ponty’s fundamental error. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 23(2), 255-278.

Dufourcq, A. (2015). The fundamental imaginary dimension of the real in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy. Research in Phenomenology, 45(1), 33-52.

Sacrini, M. (2013). Merleau-Ponty’s responses to skepticism: A critical appraisal. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 21(5), 713-734.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Maurice Merleau-Ponty: How to Know Reality'. 22 May.

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