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Merleau-Ponty and Thinking from Within

  • Françoise Dastur
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 129)

Abstract

As a preamble, this title requires several explanations. First, it brings to mind, by contrast, the title of a famous article by Michel Foucault which appeared in 1966 in an issue of Critique’ dedicated entirely to Maurice Blanchot. In this article, Michel Foucault pointed out that one could see in Blanchot an example par excellence of the kind of thinking that he contrasted with the Greek notion of truth as the one which forms the basis of modern fiction and to which he proposed giving the name of “thinking from the outside.” This type of thinking, whose origin Foucault searches for in Sade and Hölderlin, by contrasting it to a thinking from interiority in which he sees the fabric of Western culture and of traditional philosophy, characterizes for him the fundamental experience of our time, this age of the death of man, because it is the age “of an outside in which the subject who speaks disappears.”2 That article is itself an exemplary testimony of the style of thought which dominated the French philosophical scene during this era and upon which the structuralist wave broke after Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s death in 1961. The then accepted opinion was, as Foucault underscores it, definitely going in the direction of an “incompatibility perhaps without recourse between the appearance of language in its being and the consciousness of self in its identity,”3 in other words between structures and subjectivity. It is certainly not a question here of seeing a contrario in Merleau-Ponty an advocate of interiority and of subjectivity in the classic sense, but rather of demonstrating that his entire philosophical undertaking led him to promote a kind of thought which would no longer oppose interiority with exteriority, the subject with the world, structures with living experience.

Keywords

Aerial View Fundamental Experience Cartesian Meditation Famous Article Visible Thing 
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.
    M. Foucault, “La pensée du dedans”, Critique no. 229, June 1966, pp. 523–546. This article reappeared in a volume published by Fata Morgana in 1986.Google Scholar
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    Obviously I am thinking of Emmanuel Levinas and in particular of Totalité et infini (The Hague, Nijhoff, 1961/English translation by Alphonso Lingis: Totality and Infinity, Pittsburgh, Duquesne University Press, 1969) the subtitle of which is An Essay on Exteriority. In fact it is in the last pages of this book that being is defined as exteriority and that Levinas affirms that “no thought could better obey being than by letting itself be dominated by this exteriority” (p. 323/p. 290).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Françoise Dastur

There are no affiliations available

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