Space without hiding places: Merleau-Ponty's remarks on linear perspective

Renée van de Vall*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Merleau-Ponty's working note from 22 October 1959, published in the posthumous volume The Visible and the Invisible, seems to contain a plea for a return to nature, to an unmediated, unfettered, uncultured perceptual experience. Martin Jay has argued that the history of twentieth-century French philosophy should be explained in terms of an increasing concern with and distrust of the ocularicentrism of Western metaphysics and of Western culture in general. Merleau-Ponty plays an interesting role in the philosophical history outlined by Jay. Not only did he contribute to the French philosophical critique of what Jay calls Cartesian perspectivalism, but he was also virtually the only one who tried consistently to develop an alternative theory of sight. When Merleau-Ponty singles out linear perspective as determining modern visuality, he seems to subscribe to the primacy of representation. After all, linear perspective is a drawing technique meant to depict three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDealing with the Visual: Art History, Aesthetics and Visual Culture
EditorsC. van Eck, E. Winters
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781351160247
ISBN (Print)9781351160230, 9780815388449, 9781138356818
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005

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