On the nature of evidence: revelation or gravitas?

Husserl distinguishes two types of evidence: "self-evidence" and "indication".  That which is "self-evident" is "seen" with "insight" and "clarity".  The idea of clarity and distinctness as the defining characteristics of evidence goes back to Descartes, at least.  That which is an "indication" signals something else; indications "point to" or "press upon" or "motivate" us conclude or presume something regarding something other than that which indicates.

If we are to take seriously that all knowledge is corrigible; if we are to be truly respectful of concepts such as "historicality" and "culture" and "the social," then we must grant that a perfectly secure grasp on meaning is impossible, that the ideal of self-evidence is precisely that, and ideal.  More importantly, it is the ideal of indication and not somehow different in kind, as Husserl asserts.  Heidegger, perhaps, begins to grasp this, yet remains committed to the metaphors of "clearing" and "shining."  Merleau-Ponty develops this theme most adequately.  He grasps the essential tension between the drive for clarity and self-evidentness--indeed, it is to be celebrated and valued--and the fact that this drive is but one amongst many that compete for attention, pushing and pulling our conscious lives down various paths.  Any phenomenal character of "self-evidence," of "insight," "grasping," or "clarity," is just motivation to the highest degree.  It is better characterized by "heaviness" and other gravatational metaphors.  That which we seem to grasp with the utmost clarity are really that which we are most committed to, that which we cannot help but take to mean a certain something. 

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