Maurice Merleau-Ponty And Aesthetics: On Perception, Art, And Embodied Existence
French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty is one of the 20th century’s greatest phenomenological thinkers. Merleau-Ponty’s main philosophical concern is understanding how humans experience and perceive the world around them. He grounds his thought in phenomenological inquiry and existential ontology, providing a rich understanding of what it means to be a human living in the world. In his examination of human situation in the world, Merleau-Ponty draws from art, in particular the work of French painter, Paul Cézanne, in outlining a theory of aesthetics that brings to light our being in the world as an embodied individual who is immersed in it, not outside of it. In my paper, I explore the various implications of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, arguing that his aesthetic theory is not simply ancillary to his general perspective, but instead unveils a new way of understanding what it means to be human living and existing in the world.