Maurice Merleau-Ponty is known and celebrated as a renowned phenomenologist and is considered a key figure in the existentialist movement.In this wide-ranging and penetrative study, Stephen Priest engages Merleau-Ponty across the full range of his philosophical thought. He considers Merleau-Ponty's writings on the problems of the body, perception, space, time, subjectivity, freedom, language, other minds, physical objects, art and being. Priest addresses Merleau-Ponty's thought in connection with Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger and Sartre. He uses clear and direct language to explain the thoughts of and the ensuing importance of one of the greatest contemporary thinkers.Philosophy students and scholars alike will find great pleasure in this fascinating exploration of the writings and ideas of Maurice Merleau-Ponty.


Even though logical positivism is officially defunct, Western philosophy retains an optimistic faith in the procedures of the natural sciences to solve problems that are really philosophical. This faith is nearly always misplaced and Merleau-Ponty's thought provides a most valuable antidote to it. Merleau-Ponty shows us how to make room for human subjectivity in a world of science.

At the time of writing, Anglo-American philosophy is still in the grip of a putative distinction between something called 'analytical philosophy' and something else called 'modern continental philosophy'. the distinction does not withstand historical, geographical and philosophical scrutiny. Despite the conspicuous methodological and stylistic distinctions between phenomenology, existentialism, logical atomism, logical positivism, linguistic analysis, structuralism, post-structuralism, herme-neutics and others, all these movements operate (consciously or not) within a fundamentally Kantian anti-metaphysical framework. Histori-cally and geographically they are all German and Austrian in their modern genesis.

On the other hand, there is a genuine and valuable distinction between using logical arguments to try to solve philosophical problems and doing anything else. in this book I have tried to show respect for Merleau-Ponty's work by arguing for and against what he says, even when he provides no arguments of his own.

Merleau-Ponty is an existential-phenomenologist. in Chapter ii, I provide an understanding of his phenomenology and its derivation from Husserl. in Chapter iii, I provide an understanding of his existentialism and its derivation from Hegel (whose patterns of thinking Merleau-Ponty thinks he never escapes). in Chapters IV-XIV, I engage Merleau-Ponty's existential phenomenology with problems about the body, perception, space, time, subjectivity, freedom, language, other minds, physical objects, art and being. in the last chapter, in briefest outline,

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