The Phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Literary Arts

  • Piotr MrózEmail author
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 109)


The presented essay concentrates on a very important issue, namely the close relation of the Merleau-Pontian genetic phenomenology and the literary arts. This version of phenomenology of corps propre has proposed new methods and approaches towards literature (poetry and novels) In order to properly grasp the purpose and meaning of the Merleau-Ponty’s aesthetic project one is obliged at least in general terms to sketch his fundamental philosophical ideas. The latter are mainly concerned with intentional activities on part of embodied consciousness. Being-in-the world corps propre the body is not only a perceiving passive) being, likewise it cannot be reduced to pure cogito. The celebrated notion of ego-cogito must be replaced by a more genuine access to the transcendent world. This stance lets the French philosopher to explore the realm of entre—the in-between: mind and body, body and mind and their union with the transcendent world. The region of entre leads Merleau-Ponty to a new perspective: that of bodily gestures, functions, meaningful and symbolic. This is the most vital trait of our existing world—to wit—the expression. The latter is the indicator not only of our intentions, but of our freedom and creativity as well. Art in general and literary arts in particular is a miracle of expression revealing a certain system of equivalence. This is no less than a nexus of interrelationship an artist thinks that have never been displayed before and will be displayed since. This intentional act an embodied expression) is according to Merleau-Ponty a visible sign of our transcending, overcoming of the pre-given reality. Although a linguistic act resorts to everyday language (fixed idiom) it has a distinct possibility of imaginary, uncommon and unusual use of language. In other words, a poet or a writer imaginatively transgresses the everyday language, creating for his/her readers potential meanings, thus presenting them with a possibility to realize their freedom To sum up: according to Merleau-Ponty a work of literary art is not a mere entity in-itself. It is not ontologically and aesthetically accomplished. Due to its variations and systems of equivalences it must be constantly interpreted and reinterpreted as it is an ever open-ended form of expression, a certain corps propre.


Perceptual Experience Literary Work Everyday Language Bodily Gesture French Philosopher 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zakład Filozofii Kultury, Uniwersytet JagiellońskiKrakówPoland

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