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Toward Metaphysics

New Tendencies in French Philosophy in the Middle of the Twentieth Century


Jacek Migasinski

This book presents and analyzes specific metaphysical tendencies that were revived within particular branches of French philosophy from the 1930s to the 1960s. Using the examples of the five philosophers active in this period (Louis Lavelle, Ferdinand Alquié, Jean Wahl, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Emmanuel Lévinas), who did not belong to or did not form any school of thought, the author attempts to show that the specificity of this non-classical metaphysics could be located in its anti-naturalist, non-substantial, non-objectival, dialectic, critical, non-systematic and pluralist character. The analysis is preceded by a comprehensive introduction in which both theoretical and historical inspirations for the ideas presented in the book are explained. The summary provides possible influences that the described ideas could exercise over more recent currents in French philosophy.
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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...

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