Re: Gibson / Merleau-Ponty

From: Jerry Balzano (
Date: Fri Mar 26 2004 - 14:36:18 PST

Well, I fear anything brief I say would be hopelessly superficial,
but first of all, both M-P and G (at least the later G), were
relentlessly mutualist in their approaches. Gibson always wanted to
be true to the phenomenological experiences of perception as well as
the behavioral achievements of perception. And M-P was interested in
people's "commitments" to "projects" in their environments, not just
an introverted "pure phenomenology". (Heft all but calls M-P a
"situated phenomenologist".) One place the combination of these
emphases shows up is in Gibson's well-known discussions of perception
as involving awareness of the body as well as awareness of the
environment; he stressed that our bodies are always phenomenally
present as we move about in the world, and that this also constitutes
perceptually useful information ignored in traditional analyses of

One thing I got from reading Gibson, that he apparently shares with
M-P (and in fact got from Merleau-Ponty himself) is the boundlessness
of the real world as a source of information; in M-P this is more
poetically put as simply "the inexhaustibility of the real". Also,
although Gibson never cites M-P in any of his writings, as far as I
know (pure scholarship never really being his strong suit), he is
said to have enthusiastically recommended M-P to his students.

Hmmmm, not all that brief, this. And here all I can think of is how
much I've left out, despite how little I know.

        - Jerry

>So, briefly, what was the connection between Gibson and Mearleu-Ponti, Gerry,
>since not everyone will have access to the journal?

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