New Tendencies in French Philosophy in the Middle of the Twentieth Century
Chapter 4. Metaphysics of Inter-corporality: Maurice Merleau-Ponty
The challenge of undertaking the analysis and interpretation of Merleau-Ponty’s197 body of work is a difficult one for several reasons. Firstly, every interpretation, consciously or not, aims for an unambiguous take on the interpreted works and strives to treat them as finished entities. However, in Merleau-Ponty’s thought the categories of ambiguity [ambiguité] and opening [ouverture], as we shall see, are central ones. This matters not only from a technical and formal perspective, but also influences the character and problems of his philosophy. For that reason, his philosophy escapes any attempts at classification. As we know, it has been labeled as an existentialism, or even more often as an existential phenomenology. But neither the dialectics of consciousness of Sartre, nor the Christian existentialism of Marcel (the two most influential representatives of the two main lines of the French existentialism) are not acceptable for defining Merleau-Ponty. Also the collective term “phenomenology” does not sufficiently distinguish his philosophy. Although the deepest source of inspiration for Merleau-Ponty was found in Husserl (however, it was mostly the late Husserl, often from Inedita; one of the most persistently reappearing negative points of reference for Merleau-Ponty was transcendental idealism, which found its best expression precisely in Husserl in the Cartesian Meditations)
But these problems with classification do not come from a potential irrationalism, poetic elements of style, or some anti-scientific attitude that would be supposed to characterize Merleau-Ponty’s thinking. On the contrary, it is a system of thought radically investigating the meaning of the most...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.