BiographyAfter secondary studies finished with the Louis-the-Large Lycée in Paris, Maurice Merleau-Ponty becomes pupil of the National university, at the same time that Sartre, and is received second with the aggregation of philosophy in 1930.
Initially professor with Beauvais (1931 - 1933), then with Chartres (1934 - 1935), then repeater with the National university (1935 - 1939) and mobilized with the 5th regiment of Infantry and the staff of the 59e light division of infantry (1939 - 1940), it also teaches with the Carnot college (1940 - 1944) and in first the higher than the college Condorcet (1944 - 1945). Lastly, it obtains a doctorate of letters in 1945 with two very important books: the Structure of the behavior (1942) and the Phenomenology of perception (1945).
It becomes then Professor of Philosophie at the university of Lyon (of 1945 with 1948), then professor of Psychologie of the child and Pédagogie at the university of the Sorbonne (of 1949 with 1952). Lastly, it becomes titular pulpit of philosophy of the Collège de France starting from 1952, until its death in 1961.
Merleau-Ponty was also member of the management committee of the review Modern times as a political leader-writer, of the foundation of the review in October 1945 until December 1952, that is to say at the time of the rupture of its friendship with Sartre (the “rupture” took place in July 1953). Supporting the attitude with difficulty that had taken, starting from 1950 (at the time of the Guerre of Korea), Sartre in the direction of the Modern times , which had been just allowed to publish its article “the Communists and peace” (1952) without preventing whoever with the review, Merleau-Ponty called Sartre after this one made jump without informing it a text which it had written for chapeauter a Marxist article (of Sartre), which it estimated not to be publishable without this hat (in the December issue of 1952). The phone conversation, tended, lasted two hours, then was followed of three long letters where their political dissensions are expressed of course, like their dissensions on the role of the intellectual, but also of the philosophical divergences, even personal. These letters will mark the rupture of their friendship which went back to their years of studies at the National university - a rupture which never seems to be accepted by one as by the other, according to François Ewald.
He dies of an cardiac arrest the evening of May 3rd 1961, at the 53 years age.
Primacy of perception
As of the time of the structure of the behavior and Phenomenology of perception , Merleau-Ponty wanted to show that the Perception was not the resultant of causal Atome S of Sensation S, as opposed to what conveyed the tradition resulting from John Locke whose design causal nuclear physicist was perpetuated in certain psychological currents of the time, of which the Béhaviorisme. Perception rather has, according to Merleau-Ponty, an active dimension as a paramount opening in the lived world (with the Lebenswelt ).
This paramount opening is at the base of its thesis of the primacy of perception. According to a formula of the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl, “any conscience is conscience of something”, which implies a distinction between “acts of thought” (the noèse) and “objects intentional of the thought” (the noème), making noetico-noematic correlation the first base of the constitution of the analyzes of the Conscience.
However, by studying the Handwritten S posthumous of Husserl, which remains one of its major influences, Merleau-Ponty notices that in their evolution, his work puts themselves up to date of the data which are not comparable to the noetico-noematic correlation. It is in particular the case in what milked with the data on the body (which is at the same time body-subject and body-object), on the subjective Temps (the Conscience of time is neither a act of conscience nor a object of thought) and on others (the first considerations of others at Husserl led to the Solipsisme).
The distinction between “acts of thought” (noèse) and “intentional objects of the thought” (noème) thus does not seem to constitute an irreducible base, it rather seems to appear on a higher level of the analysis. Thus, Merleau-Ponty postulates not that “any conscience is conscience of something”, which supposes from the start a base noetico-noematic, it rather develops the thesis according to which “any conscience is perceptive conscience”. By doing this, it founds a significant turning in the development of the Phénoménologie, indicating that the conceptualizations must be re-examined with the ell of the primacy of perception, by weighing up its philosophical consequences.
By taking as starting point the study of the Perception, Merleau-Ponty is brought to recognize that the clean body is not only one thing, a potential object of study for the Science, but which it is also a permanent condition of the experiment, which it is constituent perceptive opening in the world and its investment. It underlines whereas there are an inherency of the Conscience and body whose analysis of the Perception must hold account. So to speak, the primacy of perception means primacy of the experiment, insofar as perception revêt an active and constitutive dimension.
The development of its work thus founds an analysis marking the recognition as much corporality of the conscience that of a body intentionality, thus contrasting with the dualistic ontology of the categories body/spirit of Rene Descartes, a philosopher to which Merleau-Ponty is remained attentive in spite of the important divergences which separate them. It then starts a study of the incarnation of the individual in the world, trying to overcome the alternative between a pure freedom and pure a Déterminisme, just like cleavage between body-for-oneself and the body-for-others.
The setting in light owing to the fact that the corporeity intrinsically has a dimension of expressivity which proves to be fundamental with the constitution of the Ego is one of the conclusions of the structure of the behavior constantly reinvested in its later work. While following this seam of the expressivity, it will examine how an incarnated subject is able to carry out activities which exceed the organic level of the body, such as it is the case at the time of the intellectual operations and in what concerns the cultural life.
He then considers attentively the Langage, as a core of the culture, by in particular examining the bonds between the deployment of the Pensée and the direction, while enriching his prospect not only by the analysis by and expressivity language acquisition for the body, but also taking of account pathologies of the language, just as the Peinture the literary, Cinéma, uses of the language and the Poésie.
One can note that this concern for the language includes upon the departure a consideration of the expressions concerned with the istic sphere Art, as testifies to it the structure of the behavior (1942) which contains in particular a passage on Greco preceding the remarks that it develops in 1945 in the doubt of Cézanne , following the considerations of the Phénoménologie of perception . In this measurement, the work which it completes when it occupies the Pulpit of child psychology and of pedagogy at the University of the Sorbonne is not an interlude with its philosophical and phenomenologic concerns, it rather represents a significant moment of the development of its reflections.
Such as indicates it its summaries of course to the University of the Sorbonne, it maintains during this period a dialog between phenomenology and the various work completed in psychology, while reconsidering the study of language acquisition in the child, in addition to being one of the first philosophers to largely exploit the contribution of work of linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and working on the concept of structure via a discussion of work in Psychologie, Linguistique and social Anthropologie.
It is important to specify that the attention that Merleau-Ponty carries to the various forms of Art S (visual, plastic, literary, poetic, etc) is not dependant on a questioning on the beautiful one, nor directed for the development of normative criteria towards Article Ainsi, one does not find in his work an effort of theorization trying to encircle what would constitute a masterpiece, a work of art or craft industry. Its objective is initially and above all to analyze the structures at the base of the expressivity, which appear invariant, by enriching the considerations on the Langage by an attention with work by the Artiste S, Poète S and writer S.
It is however advisable to note that, although he does not establish normative criteria on art as such, there is nevertheless at his place a distinction prevailing between “expression first” and “expression second”. This distinction appears in the Phénoménologie of perception and is sometimes taken again under the terms of “spoken language” and “speaking language”. The spoken language (or expression second) returns to our linguistic luggage, with the cultural heritage which we acquired, like with the rough weight of report/ratio of Signe S and significances. The language speaking (or expression first), as for him, it is the language as a working of a direction, it is the language at the time when it proceeds to the advent of a thought, at the moment when it is made advent of direction.
It is the speaking language, i.e. the expression first, which interest Merleau-Ponty and which holds its attention when it treats nature of the production and reception of the expressions, a subject which imbricates also an analysis of the action, intentionality, perception, as well as relationship between the external freedom and determinants.
About painted work, Merleau-Ponty notes that during his work of creation, the artist painter can have a certain idea as a preliminary and wish to concretize it, or that it can initially work material while trying to release a certain idea or emotion from it, but that in a case as in the other, there is in the activity of the painter a development of the expression which is found closely in interaction with the direction which is implemented. It is starting from this basic report that it will try to clarify the invariant structures characterizing the expressivity, while trying to give an account of the surdetermination of the direction which it put forward in the doubt of Cézanne .
Among the structures to be considered, the study of the concept of style will occupy an important place in the indirect language and the voices of silence . In spite of certain agreements with Andre Malraux, it will mark its distances compared to three designs of the style of which this last fact use in voices of silence (published in the collection the Pleiad and gathering four volumes of Psychologie of art published 1947 with 1950). Merleau-Ponty considers that in this work, the style is employed by Malraux sometimes from a very subjective point of view while being compared to a projection of the individuality of the artist, sometimes from a point of view contrary very Métaphysique, even mystical according to him, where the style is then related to a design of “surartist” expressing “the Spirit of painting”, and that finally it is sometimes tiny room to simply indicating a categorization of school or artistic movement.
For Merleau-Ponty, these are the uses of the concept of style which lead Malraux to postulate a cleavage between the objectivity of the painting of the Italian Renaissance and the subjectivity of the painting of its time, it to what Merleau-Ponty is opposed. According to him, it is important to consider these problems at the base, by recognizing that the “style” is initially a requirement due to the perceptive primacy, which implies also a catch in consideration of dimensions of historicity and intersubjectivity.
History and intersubjectivity
As much its work on the corporeity that those on the language reveal the importance, for the comprehension of the expressivity, the rooting of the individual within the lived world. However, this rooting imbricates dimensions of historicity and the intersubjectivity, which he then endeavors to make understandable. Like starting point with consideration of History and intersubjectivity, it notices that individual of is nor subject, since he takes part in a universe sociocultural and linguistic already structured, but that he is not either the product, since it there takes share and influences on institutions by use that he in fact, including in what milked with the instituted language which seems to him to be a model of study for the comprehension of these phenomena, as he notes it in the file that he gives for his nomination to the Collège de France.
In this direction, Merleau-Ponty is a contradictor of the direction of the history , concept hégelien - though the influence of Hegel is certainly more present in its last work.
By its treatment of the intersubjectivity, Merleau-Ponty highlights also a Aporie of the Western philosophy which was expressed by the traditional problem of the Solipsisme. In the wake of Husserl but better than this last it shows a kind of primacy of the intersubjectivity which reveals besides of which point the Cartesian starting point in “I think” was inductive difficulties exposing the philosophy to ridiculous of a “solipsism to several”. It is under the effect of this inversion that a reform of the ontological categories is started in the work of the French philosopher.
If it is true that Merleau-Ponty was shown to be attentive with work of psychology, the majority of the specialists in the history of the discipline recognize that it is quite as true that its own work had a real impact on the level of research in psychology. the structure of the behavior (1942) considers face a large range of experimental research of the time while showing several difficulties with which are confronted certain of this work, in particular those of the behaviorism, owe with presupposed the ontological S on which they rest implicitly. But contrary, it also shows that the experimental data of psychology highlight certain problems of the epistemology and of the Philosophie of sciences of the time.
It is noticed in addition that the structure of the behavior contains many references to research such as those of the neurologist Kurt Goldstein and Frederik J.J. Buytendijk, and that, reciprocally, Buytendijk makes in its turn several times reference to Merleau-Ponty in its Traité animal Psychology (1952), in addition to to have published an article entitled “To touch and be touched” (1953) which foreign with the theses on the reversibility “concerning-is not touched” that one finds in the visible one and invisible the .
Merleau-Ponty was also attentive with work of the psychology of Gestalt and tried an interpretation of the convergence points and divergence of the Psychanalyse with the Phénoménologie, in addition to its considerations on social psychology and work of Jean Piaget.
Sociology and anthropology
By making the analysis of the rooting in the lived world and, by extension, of the intersubjectivity, Merleau-Ponty was brought to discuss the nature of sociological research and anthropological, in particular in the articles the philosopher and sociology and De Mauss with Claude Lévi-Strauss . Its theses on the primacy of perception and the lived body found an innovative comprehension of the intersubjectivity and, for this reason, they inspired by research in sociology, in particular in a setting in prospect with work for sociological phenomenology for Alfred Schütz on practical intentionalities.
Flesh and the chiasme/the visible one and the invisible one
The concepts of flesh and chiasme, as well as the concomitant concepts of visible and invisible, appear mainly in the visible one and invisible the and in the Working notes which accompany it (let us recall that it is about a posthumous work, remained in building site), like in the notes of course at the Collège de France of the period 1959-1961 - and very briefly in the Foreword of Signes and some other places. Because of the state of incompletion of the articulation of these concepts, it is not always obvious to delimit exactly what Merleau-Ponty wanted to mean by there, but, without entering the questions of interpretations, there are nevertheless certain indications generally shared by the specialists in the field who can be raised.
One can initially note that the introduction of these concepts aims at overcoming the cleavages conveyed by the use (of the time) of certain concepts. Thus, while postulating that “any conscience is perceptive conscience”, Merleau-Ponty recognized a paramount pregnancy of perceiving and of perceived - what is sometimes indicated for the example of the reversibility of concerning and of touched. In the same way, by treating clean body, he recognized a corporality of the conscience and a body intentionality. However, categories of subject/world, as those of body/conscience were often articulated on bottom of dualism of the categories. It is to some extent to name these pregnancies and encroachments that the concept of flesh will appear, as well as the concepts associated with interlacing and chiasme. The concepts of visible and invisible, as for them, are related to the question of the direction .
According to the theses of Merleau-Ponty, there is no categorical distinction between to be and manner of appearing . Thus, it will be noticed that in spite of its attention with work of Heidegger, that he more frequently discusses during this time, Merleau-Ponty does not endorse the considerations of this last in the field of the Métaphysique. For Merleau-Ponty, the question of the direction does not fit in a dualistic ontology of appearance and to be it, there is rather a visible reversibility of dimensions of and invisible which must be included/understood like place and towards, the invisible not being the opposite of the visible (Merleau-Ponty thus deviates from ontology sartrienne Être and from Nothing), but rather its lining, its “carnal depth”. There it is a question to some extent for him of returning justice to the pregnancy of the signs and the direction which prevails, according to its work on the language and arts. This means that there is not subordination of the signs to the direction, nor the reverse.
Thus, the question of the direction cannot be brought back to a pure ideality, there is also a materiality inherent in the direction - for example, in Phénoménologie of perception Merleau-Ponty notes that a painted work, if it is torn, is not any more direction, it is brought back to its state of scraps.
The thought Politique of Merleau-Ponty is neither at the level of the theoretical development of a political Philosophie itself, nor on the level of a chronicle of the topicality and political events. The development of its political thought proceeds of a to and from between these levels, it acts, at least according to its own wishes, neither to plate a theory with the events by making rise the actions to undertake starting from political/moral principles, nor to react to each event as if it constituted with him only a whole without philosophical dimension.
It publishes Humanisme and terror (1947) and the Adventures of dialectical the (1955), works which, in addition to concealing the outline of a Philosophie of the history, approach the interpretation of the Marxisme, without to adhere to any doctrines. It publishes also many articles with political content in various newspapers, as in the review Modern times of which he is leader-writer political until his withdrawal, in December 1952, due to divergences of opinion touching at the same time with the prospects for social engagement of the intellectuals and with the political positions of Sartre, such as testifies to it the document Sartre, Merleau-Ponty: Letters of a rupture .
“phenomenology (...) it is initially the disavowal of science. ” ( Phenomenology of perception , p. II). It is paramount to note that the term “disavowal”, related to a methodological question in the return to the “things themselves”, does not have any pejorative connotation here. Also Merleau-Ponty specifies it which “if we want to think science itself with rigor, to appreciate of it exactly the direction and the range, we should awake initially this experiment of the world of which it is the expression second. ” ( Phenomenology of perception , p. III).
“That it is of the vestiges or the body of others, the question is to know how an object in space can become the trace speaking about an existence, how conversely an intention, a thought, a project can be detached from the personal subject and become visible out of him in its body, in the medium which he builds. ” ( Phenomenology of perception , p. 401).
Detailed list of its writings
See also: Merleau-Ponty (bibliography)
Merleau-Ponty Circle (North America)
- Merleau-Ponty Circle (Japan)
- Article of encyclopedia (in English)
- Synthesis: The visible one and invisible the
- Synthesis: The Clean body (Pre-Reflexive Intentionality)
- Synthesis: The Pre-Reflexive cogito
- Synthesis: The being and art
- Synthesis: the being-with-world
- 100 Merleau-Ponty
- International Chiasmi trilingual Publication around the thought of Merleau-Ponty
Notes and references of the article
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