Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Basic Writings

Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Basic Writings

Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Basic Writings

Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Basic Writings


Merleau-Ponty was a pivotal figure in twentieth century French philosophy. He was responsible for bringing the phenomenological methods of the German philosophers - Husserl and Heidegger - to France and instigated a new wave of interest in this approach. His influence extended well beyond the boundaries of philosophy and can be seen in theories of politics, psychology, art and language.This is the first volume to bring together a comprehensive selection of Merleau-Ponty's writing.Sections from the following are included: The Primacy of PerceptionThe Structure of BehaviourThe Phenomenology of PerceptionThe Prose of the WorldThe Visible and the InvisibleSense and Non-SenseThe Adventures of the Dialectic In a substantial critical introduction Thomas Baldwin provides a critical discussion of the main themes of Merleau-Ponty's philosophy, connecting it to subsequent philosophical debates and setting it in the context of the ideas of Bergson, Husserl, Heidegger and Sartre. Each text is also prefaced with an explanation which sets it in its context in Merleau-Ponty's work; and there are extensive suggestions for further reading to enable students to pursue the issues raised by Merleau-Ponty. Thus the book provides the ideal materials for students studying Merleau-Ponty for the first time.


EDITOR’S introduction

Life: Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-61)

Merleau-Ponty’s father died while he was still a small child and, along with his brother and sister, he was brought up in Paris by his widowed mother, to whom he remained very close. This period seems to have been one of exceptional happiness and intimacy, and he carried the memory of it throughout his life:

It is at the present time that I realize that the first twenty-five years of my life were a prolonged childhood, destined to be followed by a painful break leading eventually to independence. If I take myself back to those years as I actually lived them and as I carry them within me, my happiness at that time cannot be explained in terms of the sheltered atmosphere of the parental home; the world itself was more beautiful, things were more fascinating.

(pp 346 [403])

After attending lycée, Merleau-Ponty gained admission to the École Normale Superièure (where he briefly encountered Sartre, though without getting to know him). He graduated in 1930 and went to teach at a lycée in Beauvais; in 1935 he returned to Paris to a junior position at the École Normale. During this period he was working on his doctoral thesis, which became his first book, The Structure of Behavior, published during the German occupation in 1942. in 1939-40 Merleau-Ponty had served briefly in the French army as a second lieutenant, but after demobilisation he returned to his teaching position and he wrote . . .

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