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Durham University

Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Dr Simon Paul James

James, Simon P. (2018). Merleau-Ponty and Metaphysical Realism. European Journal of Philosophy 26(4): 1312-1323.

Author(s) from Durham


Global metaphysical antirealism (or “antirealism”) is often thought to entail that the identity of each and every concrete entity in our world ultimately depends on us—on our adoption of certain social and linguistic conventions, for instance, or on our use of certain conceptual schemes. Drawing on the middle‐period works of Maurice Merleau‐Ponty, I contend that metaphysical antirealism entails nothing of the sort. For Merleau‐Ponty, I argue, entities do not ultimately owe their identities to us, even though—as he puts it—their “articulations are the very ones of our existence.” Once this is recognised, I maintain, certain interpretations of phenomenology are revealed to be caricatures and certain general objections to antirealism lose their force.