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Merleau-Ponty in Retrospect

  • G. B. Madison
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 129)

Abstract

For a number of years now Merleau-Ponty’s work has been relegated to obscurity. It has, to be sure, continued to be a subject of lively discussion (especially in North America), but only in relatively narrow circles. For the most part the attention of those interested in what in North America is now referred to as “Continental” philosophy has come to be focused mainly on various post-structuralist and post-Merleau-Pontian figures, figures such as Derrida and Deleuze, Lyotard and Foucault, as well as, to a somewhat lesser extent, Critical Theory, i.e., Habermas and his predecessors in the Frankfurt School. In a newspaper interview published (in English) a decade ago, Claude Lefort remarked on how, as he said: “There’s been an odd repression of [MerleauPonty’s] thought.” And he added: “I think that many of those who later took over the limelight owe him a good deal. But they’ve shirked the rigour of his questioning.”’ It is hard to disagree with Lefort on this point. And while one can obviously only speculate on such matters, Lefort is also perhaps right, at least in part, when he says: “[generally speaking, what we’ve seen flower has been a triumphantly destructive approach to philosophical tradition which would not have had the same repercussions had Merleau-Ponty been around.”

Keywords

Critical Theory Philosophical Tradition Communicative Rationality Frankfurt School Communicative Ethic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    “Philosoph’s [sic] Mainspring,” interview by Christian Delacampagne with Claude Lefort, The Manchester Guardian, June 28, 1981.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, trans. Colin Smith (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962), p. 346.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Hans-Georg Gadamer, Reason in the Age of Science, trans. F. G. Lawrence (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1981), p. 140.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Phenomenology of Perception, p. 346.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Ibid., p. 362. In regard to the “horizonal” nature of human understanding (both perceptual and linguistic), see my “Merleau-Ponty and the Deconstruction of Logocentrism.”Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Ibid., p. 388.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    See the introduction to my La phénoménologie de Merleau-Ponty: une recherche des limites de la conscience (Paris: Editions Klincksieck, 1973).Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Phenomenology of Perception,p. 38.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    Cf. Phenomenology of Perception,p. 320: “The relations between things or aspects of things having always our body as their vehicle, the whole of nature is the setting of our own life, or our interlocutor in a sort of dialogue.”Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    Ibid., p. 354.Google Scholar
  11. 14.
    Thomas W. Busch, “Ethics and Ontology: Levinas and Merleau-Ponty,” paper presented at the 16th annual meeting of the Merleau-Ponty Circle, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, September 1991.Google Scholar
  12. 15.
    Gadamer, Truth and Method (New York: Seabury Press, 1975), pp. 465–66.Google Scholar
  13. 16.
    Phenomenology of Perception,p. 439.Google Scholar
  14. 18.
    Gadamer, “The Problem of Historical Consciousness” in Paul Rabinow and William M. Sullivan, eds., Interpretive Social Science: A Reader (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), p. 112.Google Scholar
  15. 20.
    Jacques Derrida, “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Human Discourses” in The Structuralist Controversy, ed. R. Macksey and E. Donato (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1972), p. 272.Google Scholar
  16. 21.
    See Phenomenology, p. 281: “In the natural attitude, I do not have perceptions.” Google Scholar
  17. 23.
    Derrida, “Difference” in Speech and Phenomena, trans. David Allison (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1973), p. 137.Google Scholar
  18. 24.
    Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1968), p. 152.Google Scholar
  19. 25.
    See my “Merleau-Ponty Alive,” paper originally presented at the seminar on “Sozialphilosophie und Lebenswelt: M. Merleau-Ponty,” Dubrovnik, April 1991.Google Scholar
  20. 27.
    See Merleau-Ponty, Sense and Non-Sense, trans. H. L. Dreyfus and P. A. Dreyfus (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1964), p. 95.Google Scholar
  21. 28.
    Merleau-Ponty, “An Unpublished Text” in The Primacy of Perception, ed. James M. Edie (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1964), p. 10.Google Scholar
  22. 29.
    See Merleau-Ponty, Signs, trans. R. C. McCleary (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1964), p. 19.Google Scholar
  23. 31.
    As instanced by the following two recent publications: Seyla Benhabib and Fred Dallmayr, eds., The Communicative Ethics Controversy (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, Press, 1990); Michael Kelly, ed., Hermeneutics and Critical Theory in Ethics and Politics (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  24. 32.
    Merleau-Ponty, “An Unpublished Text,” p. 11 (“… donnerait en même temps le principe d’une morale”). Google Scholar
  25. 35.
    Signs, p. 11.Google Scholar
  26. 36.
    See my “Merleau-Ponty et la contre-tradition,” Dialogue, 17, no. 3, 1978 (English translation reprinted in my The Phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty [Athens: Ohio University Press, 1981]) and my “Merleau-Ponty et la déconstruction du logocentrisme,” Laval théologique et philosophique, 46, no. 1, 1990 (expanded English version in M. C. Dillon, ed., Merleau-Ponty Vivant [Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991]).Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

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  • G. B. Madison

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