As many people accept, Merleau-Ponty was influenced by the writings of A. Gurwitsch, who integrated insights from gestalt psychology and Husserl’s phenomenology. However, Merleau-Ponty hardly mentioned him in public. So, it is unclear how Merleau-Ponty evaluated Gurwitsch’s phenomenological philosophy and whether or not there were essential differences between their philosophies.
The aim of this paper is to explicate the tendency of realistic phenomenology in Merleau-Ponty’s early works, particularly Phenomenology of Perception. In doing so, I will suggest that there is a fundamental conflict between the writings of Merleau-Ponty and Gurwitsch, even though they are equally inspired by gestalt psychology and Husserl’s phenomenology. My argument goes broadly as follows.
First, I clarify the issue that both Merleau-Ponty and Gurwitsch deal with. Second, I suggest that they have different attitudes on the issue. Finally, I point out that Merleau-Ponty’s realistic insight makes his approach different from Gurwitsch’s one.