On Merleau-Ponty (Wadsworth Philosophers Series) by Daniel T. Primozic

By Daniel T. Primozic

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Merleau-Ponty's analysis of his political situation left him seeking mediation between the 'humanism" (idealism, capitalism) and the "terror" (materialism and Stalinism) of his time. In his Humanism and Terror (French, 1947; English, 1969), he studies the problem of the 31 The Middle Writings: Political Engagement communism of his milieu - a political system gone the way of absolute terror and oppression in the hands of Stalin. Merleau-Ponty contends that Marxist terrorism marks an essentially inhuman characteristic of Marxism itself, with its over-emphasis on materialism.

One must eliminate oppression and the dogmatism that spawns it. But one must do so philosophically and according to the obvious truths of our human condition of ambiguity. For Merleau-Ponty, there are no final answers and therefore no need for absolute, dogmatic philosophies or philosophers. The true philosopher is drawn by evidence and by complexity and ambiguity alike, by the search for absolute truth and by a suspicion of any that one may find. It is Socratic skepticism, or what Merleau-Ponty calls interrogation, that characterizes the true philosopher and has done so throughout history.

Hence Husserl provides a phenomenological version of the ideal that is different than that of Descartes: one that would not include a "final" system of philosophy and knowledge but one that would provide an adequate foundation for the rationalization of human experience. 44 Merleau-Ponty's Last Work Merleau-Ponty 's Reaction to Husserl 's Overcoming of the Crisis Merleau-Ponty saw that Husserl took his usual idealist platform from which to launch an overcoming of the crisis. He depended on a Kantian-like "philosophy of consciousness," - where truth resides in the "inner man" 3 - to help him ground his rescue of reason in the daily exchange in science and philosophy.

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