Abide by ME(T), Maurice Merleau-Ponty: incorporating Merleau-Ponty’s ‘pre-objective’ perception into material engagement theory
MET’s goal of ‘taking material culture seriously’ in cognitive archaeology has been met with praise for its novel approach and scepticism for its radical theoretical claims. MET has argued that we are ontologically intertwined with the material world, and as a consequence the material world is constitutively intertwined with our cognition. Recent criticisms have argued that MET can accomplish its research without such strong claims. In line with these criticisms, this paper aims to improve MET’s ontology and phenomenology by replacing MET’s current ontological claim with Merleau-Ponty’s ‘pre-objectivity’. We argue that ‘pre-objectivity’ ontologically ties us to the world but does not co-constitute our cognition. Furthermore, MET’s currently uses phenomenology to support their ontology, however this results in phenomenological claims that are unjustified. Having ‘pre-objectivity’ as the ontological grounding for MET will allow for a cleaner discussion of phenomenology and ontology where the former justifiably supports the latter.