This thesis was developed mainly based on Merleau-Ponty’s “Eye and mind”. The book covers various diverse topics, which includes Henri Michaux’s poems and several pieces of some important painters, such as Paul Cezanne, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, etc. The central theme of this book is that Merleau-Ponty combined his philosophy with the paintings of Cezanne. Another book of his, “Cezanne’s doubt”, demonstrates this thesis. From the three books, “Phenomenology of perception”, “The visible and invisible”, and “Eye and mind”, we can tell that Cezanne apparently plays an important role in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophical system. He has been searching for the essence of the internal nature, and that’s exactly what Cezanne was pursuing through his paintings, which are mainly about nature throughout his life. Both of them are searching for the idea “Nature is on the inside”, as said by Cezanne.
This thesis came in two parts. The researcher noticed the evolution of Cezanne’s paintings throughout his different stages of life, and learned more about how he accomplished his goals in painting. The researcher also learned about his status among the other painters, including Picasso. According to the above, the first part of the thesis is about searching for the meaning of “Nature is on the inside”, based on mainly the paintings of Cezanne, and secondly the paintings of the other painters. The researcher intends to find out the answers to several questions. What is nature and reality to a painter? Do painters focus on internal spirit or perfect external copies? The demarcation between the internal and external is like the argument between color and shape. The shape hence becomes an important element of the search for the essential of nature. What is the basis for painters to judge the borderline: between resemblance and difference or reality and unreality? The researcher realized that the self portrait of Francis Bacon can help answer these questions.
After discussing nature in the eyes of the painters, the second part of this thesis comes to focus on Merleau-Ponty’s philosophical thoughts. The researcher tried to discuss nature from his point of view, and combined the first and second part. Merleau-Ponty interpreted nature from the “space”, but the space here must be separated from the concept of geometric space. The space Merleau-Ponty mentioned is the internal space, as the depth of space, which was also called the poetic space by Henri Michaux. This isn’t measurable space. The second part includes two chapters. The first chapter was about “Depth”, in which Merleau-Ponty developed the concept of the word “space”. How is the “depth”, the so-called internal space, formed? A question some painters have which is similar to this is how to paint three-dimensional space on a two dimensional canvas. Additionally, the word “depth” also helps discover the relationship between the subject and the object, or between nature and human beings. The researcher extended the concept of space to another of Merleau-Ponty’s main philosophical concepts, ”the visible and the invisible”, which is exactly the internal space he mentioned. The relation between the visible and the invisible means the mutual relationship between what we see and our internal feelings. Said differently, it’s the combination of the eye and the heart.
In the second chapter, the researcher analyzed another book of Merleau-Ponty “Cezanne’s doubt”. The researcher intended to discover more thoroughly how the concept of space and the spirit of Cezanne’s paintings complement each other. The word “space” can be extended into the depth of this relationship. Does the meaning of relationship only stay as it looks and be restricted by the subject and the object? The nature that Ponte and Cezanne pursued has nothing to do with the relationship between activeness and passiveness, but the searching for the essence, which they consider to be the undefined relationship when two different subjects suddenly interact in the same moment. However, in “Cezanne’s doubt”, the researcher realized that Merleau-Ponty thought more about humanity and freedom based on the idea of this undefined relationship. What is humanity? What is freedom? Does the subject still exist when the decisive roles of the subject and object disappear? Merleau-Ponty searches for the relationship between the nature and human. On the other hand, he also inspects the meaning of humanity and freedom. According to his point of view, when humans get involved in nature, the subject seemingly disappears, but essentially the subject will be found as the essence itself.