Merleau-Ponty, in Humanism and Terror (1947), addresses the spectrum of problems related to revolutionary action. His essay, Eye and Mind (1960), is best known as a contribution to aesthetics. A common structure exists in these apparently disparate works. We must reject the illusion of subjective clairvoyance as a standard of revolutionary praxis; but also we must reject any idealised light of reason that illuminates all—that promises a history without shadows. The revolutionary nature of an act must be established as such through praxis. The creative praxes of the political revolutionary or the revolutionary artist are recognised ex post facto; yet each involves the creation of its own new aesthetic wherein the value of that praxis is to be understood spontaneously and all at once.
Duane H. Davis is Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina—Asheville. He was Distinguished Scholar in Residence in Curitiba, Brazil in 2011, and the Feldman Research Scholar in 2013-14. He has published numerous articles in recent French thought, is co-editor (with William Hamrick) of Merleau-Ponty and the Art of Perception (SUNY Press, 2016) and is editor of Merleau-Ponty's Later Works and Their Practical Implications: The Dehiscence of Responsibility (Humanity Books, 2001). He was Director of the International Merleau-Ponty Circle conference three times, and co-directed (with Ivan Kolev) a conference on Merleau-Ponty in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2008.