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Adventures of the Dialectic (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) 1st Edition

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0810105966
ISBN-10: 0810105969
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Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Maurice Merleau-Ponty (14 March 1908 – 3 May 1961) was a French phenomenological philosopher, strongly influenced by Karl Marx, Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger in addition to being closely associated with Jean-Paul Sartre (who later stated he had been "converted" to Marxism by Merleau-Ponty) and Simone de Beauvoir. At the core of Merleau-Ponty's philosophy is a sustained argument for the foundational role that perception plays in understanding the world as well as engaging with the world. Like the other major phenomenologists Merleau-Ponty expressed his philosophical insights in writings on art, literature, linguistics, and politics. He was the only major phenomenologist of the first half of the twentieth century to engage extensively with the sciences and especially with descriptive psychology. Because of this engagement his writings have become influential in the recent project of naturalizing phenomenology, in which phenomenologists use the results of psychology and cognitive science.

Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy
  • Paperback: 237 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1 edition (January 1, 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810105969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810105966
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,683,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Merleau-Ponty is generally read for his work in phenomenology, not his work on dialectics. This is both a pity and a mistake. While he certainly does deserve to be remembered as the third great phenomenologist of the past century, after Husserl & Heidegger, his being forgotten as a dialectical thinker is almost inexplicable.

I say almost inexplicable because, I fear, the reason he is ignored as a dialectical thinker is because he advocated, and superbly demonstrated, a dialectic without myths, utopia or dreams. In the great chapter (2) on Lukacs he says, "[t]he dialectic is this continued intuition, a consistent reading of actual history, the re-establishment of the tormented relations, of the interminable exchanges, between subject and object. There is only one knowledge, which is the knowledge of our world in a state of becoming, and this becoming embraces knowledge itself." He speaks of interminable exchanges, implies the permanence of tormented relations, affirms that knowledge always becomes. This is a dialectic scraped clean of the utopianism of the Marxist classless society, contemptuous of some miraculous Kojevean 'End of History', sans any vain 'Hegelian' promise of some never-never land in which Science will precisely equal Wisdom.

So then why dialectic, or, more precisely, why use the dialectical method if it offers no goal? Immediately after the sentences quoted above M-P says, "[b]ut it is knowledge that teaches us this." The dialectic, as M-P understands it, gives us, better - can give us, an understanding of history, and our present, but as to the future it promises exactly nothing. How could it promise more?
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