While there have been many essays devoted to comparing the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty with that of Jacques Derrida, there has been no sustained book-length treatment of these two French philosophers. Additionally, many of the essays presuppose an oppositional relationship between them, and between phenomenology and deconstruction more generally.
Jack Reynolds systematically explores their relationship by analyzing each philosopher in terms of two important and related issues—embodiment and alterity. Focusing on areas with which they are not commonly associated (e.g., Derrida on the body and Merleau-Ponty on alterity) makes clear that their work cannot be adequately characterized in a strictly oppositional way. Merleau-Ponty and Derrida: Intertwining Embodiment and Alterity proposes the possibility of a Merleau-Ponty-inspired philosophy that does not so avowedly seek to extricate itself from phenomenology, but that also cannot easily be dismissed as simply another instantiation of the metaphysics of presence. Reynolds argues that there are salient ethico-political reasons for choosing an alternative that accords greater attention to our embodied situation.
As the first full-length monograph comparing the philosophers, Merleau-Ponty and Derrida will interest scholars and students in European philosophy and teachers of courses dealing with deconstruction.
Phenomenology has played a decisive role in the emergence of the discourse of place, now indispensable to many disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, and the contribution of Merleau-Ponty’s thought to architectural theory and practice is well established. Merleau-Ponty: Space, Place, Architecture is a vibrant collection of original essays by twelve eminent philosophers who mine Merleau-Ponty’s work to consider how we live and create as profoundly spatial beings. The resulting collection is essential to philosophers and creative artists as well as those concerned with the pressing ethical issues of our time.
Each contributor presents a different facet of space, place, or architecture. These essays carve paths from Merleau-Ponty to other thinkers such as Irigaray, Deleuze, Ettinger, and Piaget. As the first collection devoted specifically to developing Merleau-Ponty’s contribution to our understanding of place and architecture, this book will speak to philosophers interested in the problem of space, architectural theorists, and a wide range of others in the arts and design community.
Contributors: Nancy Barta-Smith, Edward S. Casey, Helen Fielding, Lisa Guenther, Galen A. Johnson, Randall Johnson, D. R. Koukal, Suzanne Cataldi Laba, Patricia M. Locke, Glen Mazis, Rachel McCann, David Morris, and Dorothea Olkowski.
The first study of its kind to appear in English, The Phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty is a sustained ontological reading of Merleau-Ponty which traces the evolution of his philosophy of being from his early work to his late, unfinished manuscripts and working notes. Merleau-Ponty, who contributed greatly to the theoretical foundations of hermeneutics, is here approached hermeneutically.
Most commentators are agreed that towards the end Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy underwent a strange and interesting mutation. The exact nature of this mutation or conceptual shift is what this study seeks to disclose. Thus, although Madison proceeds in a generally progressive, chronological fashion, examining Merleau-Ponty’s major works in the order of their composition, his reading is ultmately regressive in that Merleau-Ponty’s earlier works are viewed in the light of the new and enigmatic ontological orientation which makes its appearance in his later work. The merit of this approach is that, as Paul Ricoeur has remarked, it enables the author to expose the “anticipatory, hollowed-out presence” of Merleau-Ponty’s late philosophy “in the difficulties of his early phenomenology,” such that “the unifying intention between his first philosophy of meaning and the body and the late, more ontological philosophy is made manifest.”
This book begins with a detailed study of Merleau-Ponty’s two major early works, The Structure of BehaviorThe Phenomenology of Perception. In the following three chapters, Madison traces the development of Merleau-Ponty’s thought from the beginning to the end of his philosophical career in regard to three topics of special concern to the French phenomenologist: painting, language, philosophy. In the final chapter, he is concerned to articulate, as much as the unfinished state of Merleau-Ponty’s final work allows, the unspoken thought of this work and of The Visible and Invisible in particular. Merleau-Ponty’s notion of “wild being” and his attempt to work out an “indirect” or “negative” ontology are thoroughly analyzed.
In the end the reader will see that through his self-criticism and the development in his own phenomenology Merleau-Ponty has brought phenomenology itself to its limits and to the point where it must transcend itself as a philosophy of consciousness in the Husserlian sense if it is to remain faithful to Husserl’s own goal of bringing “experience to the full expression of its own meaning.” Because Madison submits Merleau-Ponty to the same kind of interpretive retrieval as the latter did with Husserl, Roger Cailloise has said of this “clear and very complete book” that it “goes will beyond a simple exposition and merits being read as an original work.”
Thinking between Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty is the first book-length examination of the relation between these two major thinkers of the twentieth century. Questioning the dominant view that the two have little of substance in common, Judith Wambacq brings them into a compelling dialogue to reveal a shared, historically grounded concern with the transcendental conditions of thought. Both Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze propose an immanent ontology, differing more in style than in substance. Wambacq’s synthetic treatment is nevertheless critical; she identifies the limitations of each thinker’s approach to immanent transcendental philosophy and traces its implications—through their respective relationships with Bergson, Proust, Cézanne, and Saussure—for ontology, language, artistic expression, and the thinking of difference. Drawing on primary texts alongside current scholarship in both French and English, Thinking between Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty is comprehensive and rigorous while remaining clear, accessible, and lively. It is certain to become the standard text for future scholarly discussion of these two major influences on contemporary thought.
The French philosopher Renaud Barbaras remarked that late in Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s career, “The phenomenology of perception fulfills itself as a philosophy of expression.” In Tracing Expression in Merleau-Ponty: Aesthetics, Philosophy of Biology, and Ontology, Véronique M. Fótiaddresses the guiding yet neglected theme of expression in Merleau-Ponty’s thought. She traces Merleau-Ponty’s ideas about how individuals express creative or artistic impulses through his three essays on aesthetics, his engagement with animality and the “new biology” in the second of his lecture courses on nature of 1957–58, and in his late ontology, articulated in 1964 in the fragmentary text of Le visible et l’invisible (The Visible and the Invisible). With the exception of a discussion of Merleau-Ponty’s 1945 essay “Cezanne’s Doubt,” Fóti engages with Merleau-Ponty’s late and final thought, with close attention to both his scientific and philosophical interlocutors, especially the continental rationalists. Expression shows itself, in Merleau-Ponty’s thought, to be primordial, and this innate and fundamental nature of expression has implications for his understanding of artistic creation, science, and philosophy.
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