He was stricly speaking neither a materialist nor idealist, but sought to

unveil the pre-theoretical layer on which both of these idealizations find their relative justification

Does that mean nothing is "mind independent" for him, trees, colours, electrons?

  • 3
    Why not turn to SEP first? "Organic life and human consciousness are emergent from a natural world that is not reducible to its meaning for a mind; yet this natural world is not the causal nexus of pre-existing objective realities". His is not the kind of realism that can be usefully flashed out in terms of traditional cliches, and that kind of nuance will be largely lost here. He is more in line with earlier aspirations to dissolve the subject-object divide and devise an alternative to both traditional positions.
    – Conifold
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 0:40
  • 1
    cliche is a poetic word @Conifold
    – user67675
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 0:41

1 Answer 1


I interpret "realist about X" as meaning "thought of X as real".

But then, your OP speaks of "mind-independence" as a criteria for what is "real". Merleau-Ponty considered that any knowledge we have of the world is derived from our mental representation of the world, that the whole world as we see it is by definition mind-dependent, and that philosophy is about our presence in the world. It's not about trying to figure out "how does the world look like when no one is looking."

So I would say that your criteria of mind-independence does not really work for Merleau-Ponty. It is not his concern.

  • i doubt no-one has applied 'realism' to his work, and if i find it a helpful phrase, so much the better if anyone can
    – user67675
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 9:13
  • @prof_ghost Words can indeed be useful, at least when we know what they mean.
    – Olivier5
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 9:25
  • trying to figure out how the world is?
    – user67675
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 9:31
  • 1
    @prof_ghost The world is fine. We are the problem. What is "mind independent" is independent from us, and therefore it's none of our concerns.
    – Olivier5
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 9:35
  • so nothing we manipulate is indepednent of us?
    – user67675
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 9:36

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