Resistance of the Sensible World: An Introduction to Merleau-Ponty

Resistance of the Sensible World: An Introduction to Merleau-Ponty

Resistance of the Sensible World: An Introduction to Merleau-Ponty

Resistance of the Sensible World: An Introduction to Merleau-Ponty

Synopsis

In this book, Emmanuel Alloa offers a handrail for venturing into the complexities of the work of the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908–61). Through a comprehensive analysis of the three main phases of Merleau-Ponty’s thinking and a thorough knowledge of his many unpublished manuscripts, the author traces how Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy evolved and exposes the remarkable coherence that structures it from within. Alloa teases out the continuity of a motive that traverses the entire oeuvre as a common thread. Merleau-Ponty struggled incessantly against any kind of ideology of transparency, whether of the world, of the self, of knowledge, or of the self’s relation to others. Already translated into several languages, Alloa’s innovative reading of this crucially important thinker shows why the issues Merleau-Ponty raised are, more than ever, those of our time.

Excerpt

The era when the evocation of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology met with the silence of ignorance or rejection seems very far away and is, in fact, gone forever. It is an understatement to say that the philosopher has been “rediscovered,” since, with rare exceptions, no one had really read him. in actuality, in less than two decades Merleau-Ponty has gone from the status of a minor or marginal author to that of a classic philosopher, so much so that the risk faced by the unusually large number of commentators is that of displaying overreverence or simply of producing an academic gloss. the elation of the early days, marked by the discovery of the enormous descriptive and critical potentialities of Merleau-Ponty’s oeuvre, has given way to systematic, scholarly research, fueled by the assimilation of the many unpublished writings, attentive to the multiplicity of sources and the complexity of the development of Merleau-Ponty’s writings as a whole. Increasingly, the difficult things are to resist the temptation to embalm him, a move absolutely at odds with the very meaning of MerleauPonty’s enterprise, and to resist being crushed by the mass of commentary; in short, the difficult thing is to continue to see Merleau-Ponty’s works with new eyes, those with which, according to Merleau-Ponty himself, the painter sees the world.

Emmanuel Alloa is among those who have averted the risks. He is familiar with and in command of the critical literature and the theoretical context in which Merleau-Ponty’s thought took shape. and yet he reads him as if for the first time, as if nothing of what has been repeated again . . .

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