Bachelard and Merleau-Ponty: Is a Cosmic Flesh of the World Feigned or Disclosed by Imagination?

  • Annabelle DufourcqEmail author
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 119)


Both Merleau-Ponty and Bachelard brought about a revolution in the traditional conception of imagination by demonstrating that this subjective faculty is essentially deeply rooted within an imaginary field that precedes it, inspires it, but possesses its own autonomy. According to both of them, such an imaginary dimension appears to stem from elements, matter, and the world itself. Consequently, it can be seriously argued that the world imagines and gives itself to us as a companion, a source of meaning and of inspiration. Merleau-Ponty goes further and claims that things, matter and living beings—humans included—belong to the same fundamental Flesh. My article will develop arguments justifying such an ontology. However, if Bachelard admires the imagination’s capacity to install us within a cosmos, he remains nonetheless hesitant about the cognitive and epistemological value of such a process. Imagination’s function, he claims, is mainly ethical: elemental reveries create a salutary fictitious cosmos. According to Bachelard, this representation of a harmonious and spiritual realm helps us to better live in the world, but leaves aside the dimension of resistance and of violence which is also a crucial part of harsh reality. Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy gives us grounds to challenge Bachelard’s thesis. My contention is that cosmos must be imaginary, which means, no less necessarily, that the world imagines the cosmos through us. As a result such a cosmos cannot be a perfect and finished order but actually exists under the only genuine form that it can take: as the world’s imagination.


Cosmos Imagination Element Flesh Reality 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of HumanitiesCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic

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