The Phenomenological Philosophy of Merleau-Ponty

The Phenomenological Philosophy of Merleau-Ponty

The Phenomenological Philosophy of Merleau-Ponty

The Phenomenological Philosophy of Merleau-Ponty

Excerpt

Importance of Merleau-Ponty's Work. Maurice Merleau-Ponty was born in 1908 at Rocheford-sur-Mer, France. After finishing his studies he became instructor in philosophy at a secondary school in Saint Quentin, then professor at the University of Lyons, transferring to the Sorbonne later on, before he finally accepted an appointment to teach philosophy at the Collège de France. He died a sudden death in 1961.

After World War II he stood very much in the public eye because he was one of the founders of Les temps modernes, a magazine to whichSartre,Jeanson,Simone de Beauvoir andMerleau-Ponty contributed philosophical articles. At first he was somewhat overshadowed by Sartre and considered to belong to Sartre's group of leftist existentialists with strong Marxist leanings. Merleau-Ponty never drew so much attention from the public at large as Sartre, which may be explained by the fact that he did not express his philosophical thoughts in the literary forms of novels or plays.

Although there are still people who continue to see a close connection between Sartre and Merleau-Ponty, the truth is that MerleauPonty has always taken a philosophical standpoint of his own which differs considerably from that of Sartre. It is only gradually, however, that the distinct character of Merleau-Ponty's philosophy has drawn attention.

The high esteem in which his thought was held manifested itself in his appointment to the Sorbonne and even more so in that to the Collège de France, which undoubtedly is the greatest distinction a philosopher can obtain in France. Outside France there are two European university centers that have shown a lively interest in his work -- namely, the Higher Institute of Philosophy of Louvain and the University of Utrecht.

If we want to name a few persons from Louvain who have particularly interested themselves in Merleau-Ponty, the first name to suggest itself is undoubtedly that of Professor Alphonse de Waehlens. Aside from drawing attention to this philosopher in his courses and discussions, he has published an important book about him, Une philosophie de l'ambiguité: l'existentialisme de Maurice Merleau- Ponty . . .

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