Interrogative Thinking: Reflections on Merleau-Ponty’s Later Philosophy
Thinking which presumes to be a sort of interrogative thinking is not satisfied with raising questions, rather it keeps questioning all the time. Trying to plunge us into a maelstrom of questions, Merleau-Ponty quotes from Claudel’s poetics, where we can read:
From time to time, a man lifts his head, sniffs, listens, considers, recognizes his position: he thinks, he sighs, and, drawing his watch from the pocket lodged against his chest, looks at the time. Where am I? and What time is it? — such is the inexhaustible question turning from us to the world.
KeywordsInterrogative Mode Cultural Order Interrogative Thinking Transcendental Reflection Pure Question
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- 1.M. Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible, trans. by A. Lingis (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968), p. 103, 121; French original: Le Visible et l’invisible (Paris: Gallimard, 1964), p. 140, 161. Page numbers following quotations refer to these two works, hereafter cited VI (English) and VI (French).Google Scholar
- 2.See The Visible and the Invisible, p. 166. Fr. 61, 70f., 129, 294 and my article “Das Zerspringen des Seins” in: A. Métraux and B. Waldenfels, eds., Leibhaftige Vernunft (München: W. Fink, 1986), pp. 144–161.Google Scholar
- 3.See Le temps vécu (Neuchâtel 2, 1968), p. 257.Google Scholar
- 4.See the explication of pathological disturbances of orientation in Phenomenology of Perception (New York: Humanities Press, 1962), p. 112, Fr. original: p. 130.Google Scholar
- 5.In this sense one simply cannot put the difference “touching-touched” into the context of a logo-centric kind of self-affection as a ‘certain grammatology’ suggests. See De la grammatologie (Paris: Ed. de Minuit), p. 237.Google Scholar
- 6.Negative Dialektik (Frankfurt: M. Suhrkamp, 1965), p. 17.Google Scholar
- 7.As to the difference between ‘answer’ and ‘response’, we may distinguish between the answer I give and the act or event of response. We can respond simply by giving an answer, but also by giving no answer or by posing a counter question.Google Scholar
- 8.Not: “returning to it” as the English translator writes; see in French: “elle en revient”. Google Scholar
- 9.See the German expression: “Etwas gibt zu denken”. Google Scholar
- 10.See my article “Vérité à faire. Merleau-Ponty’s Question Concerning Truth” in: Philosophy Today (Summer 1991), pp. 185–194.Google Scholar
- 11.Concerning the idea of responsiveness, see my hints in: Ordnung im Zwielicht (Frankfurt: M. Suhrkamp, 1987), p. 41ff., 210ff.; a detailed elaboration of this idea is in preparation.Google Scholar