Multiple Moving Perceptions of the Real: Arendt, Merleau-Ponty, and Truitt
Article first published online: 30 MAR 2011
© by Hypatia, Inc.
Special Issue: Ethics of Embodiment
Volume 26, Issue 3, pages 518–534, Summer 2011
How to Cite
FIELDING, H. A. (2011), Multiple Moving Perceptions of the Real: Arendt, Merleau-Ponty, and Truitt. Hypatia, 26: 518–534. doi: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.2011.01191.x
- Issue published online: 15 JUL 2011
- Article first published online: 30 MAR 2011
This paper explores the ethical insights provided by Anne Truitt's minimalist sculptures, as viewed through the phenomenological lenses of Hannah Arendt's investigations into the co-constitution of reality and Maurice Merleau-Ponty's investigations into perception. Artworks in their material presence can lay out new ways of relating and perceiving. Truitt's works accomplish this task by revealing the interactive motion of our embodied relations and how material objects can actually help to ground our reality and hence human potentiality. Merleau-Ponty shows how our prereflective bodies allow incompossible perceptions to coexist. Yet this same capacity of bodies to gather multiple perceptions together also lends itself to the illusion that we see from only one perspective. If an ethical perspective becomes reified into one position, it then becomes detached from reality, and the ethical potential is actually lost. At the same time, phenomenologically understood, the real world does not exist in terms of static matter, but is instead a web of contextual relations and meanings. An ethics that does not take embodied relations into account—that allows for only one perspective—ultimately loses its capacity for flexibility, and for being part of a common and shared reality.