Talk:Maurice Merleau-Ponty

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Started translation of the French version[edit]

I've taken a cue from the note above, and begun a translation of the thematic outline that is on the French version. I'll do my best here, and we can improve the translation, and decide what to keep and what to delete as we go on. This may help to address the need for a clearer explanation mentioned below. - (Justin Tauber 27 September, 2005)

Great work. I've translated the 'visible et invisible' section. I'm no great translator though so it's a base to work on - do tidy and improve!! Krits 13 Nov 05.

The need for a clearer explanation of the work[edit]

I know it's not that helpful to say that some work needs to be done, but we really need someone who knows exactly what to say and the ability to say it clearly here.

At the moment, the language used to explain Merleau-Ponty's work is not at all clear. For example, "The thing seen in perspective transcends our view, and yet is immanent in it. By a pre-conscious act of `original faith' we immediately place this phenomenal thing in the world, where it blends in with other things and behaves like any "figure" against a certain background. Just as much as our own unity as a bodily subject is not a unity in thought, but one that is experienced in our interaction with our surroundings, so the unity of the thing is `perceived' as pervading all of its perspectives."

I don't think the average intelligent reader would find this very helpful... I'm tempted to delete this chunk altogether - because it's just no good for most readers - and to put in something simpler myself (I've read some Merleau-Ponty but don't believe in pretentious explanations that don't make sense to the average intelligent human). But maybe that's arrogant? (Davidgauntlett 00:05, 19 July 2005 (UTC))

I agree; I find the language less than useful. I find Merleau-Ponty often uses terms in very particular ways that someone who's read little of his work would find confusing or misleading. It's worth at least appending less jargon-y explanations to the originals. Lilypepper

This article makes no sense to me. I also think this is due to the jargon-y language of the article. Narcissus 01:39, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

If only it were that simple! As with many influential philosophers, there are many interpretations of Merleau-Ponty, which translate his jargon in different ways. I can think of a psychological, transcendental and hermeneutic interpretations off the top of my head. Doing justice to all these interpretations simultaneously is a hell of a task. Merleau-Ponty was also keenly aware that philosophy is not produced ex-nihilo, but within a tradition, so much of his jargon is a deliberate deformation of concepts he's inherited from Husserl, Kant, Hegel, Heidegger and Sartre. Attempts to provide a simple introduction to Merleau-Ponty skew his philosophy away from these thinkers in the direction of contemporary analytic philosophy of mind. Now, some people think that's a big step forward. For others, it's a malicious misreading. In this case, the fairest reading is not necessarily the most accessible. Though I'd normally prefer the opposite, my preference here is for an encyclopedic entry rather than a beginner's guide, but only because the beginner's guide is likely to be misleading, and not just incomplete. Justin Tauber 21 December 2006

I have read a little Merleau-Ponty and reconstructed the paragraph according to what I think it was referring to: the perspectival perception of things and what the thing is. Since I have not read the chapter on the thing and the natural world, I am taking my interpretation from earlier on in "Phenomenology of Perception." Of course, feel free to revert or correct if my interpretation is wrong or contested. As I understand it, it is the interpretation given by, among others, Sean Kelly and (in a critical manner) Alva Noë. I think that my addition of "non-thetic" might be contestable, and I acknowledge that, as well as it might be arguable how much of this M-P himself meant. I think it is what he meant, but it is also a way to retain vestiges of the replaced passage which spoke of the openness of our perception of the object. Drifter

It must be remembered that the purpose of academic prose is not to communicate concepts but to appear deep. The usual response to criticism is to say, "The content of this writing is so deep that it cannot be clearly communicated. If you don't understand it, you are not capable of thinking deep enough." This technique was successfully employed by Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger and Sartre. They imitated Kant's use of jargon. In Kant's case, though, he had to use complicated jargon because he had not clearly and simply thought out his doctrine of a priori concepts. Lestrade (talk) 20:24, 27 March 2008 (UTC)Lestrade

The section "Work" reads as though it has been co-written by Professors Irwin Corey and Alan Sokal, after having been influenced by Professor Georg Hegel.Lestrade (talk) 18:47, 31 March 2008 (UTC)Lestrade

Added citation and section cleanup tags[edit]

The citations and references need to be organized and made to conform to Wikipedia standards. I added the citation tag to the article top, and a section cleanup to the top offending section. I was thinking of adding the {{Expert}} tag, but perhaps this will be enough? It is great how this article has blossomed, but it really needs some stylistic and copyediting help. --NightMonkey 02:28, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

Noema and noesis[edit]

""acts of thought" (the noesis) and "intentional objects of thought" (the noema)". This seems to be a mistaken interpetation of Husserl, or at least it is put in a deceiving way. To speak of "intentional objects of thought" seems to mean the objects-in-themselves towards which we direct our consciousness, this is outright contradictory to Husserl's bracketing (epoche) of the "natural standpoint". Otherwise the phrase could mean inner intentional objects, which Husserl certainly rejects the existence of. Besides being ambiguous, in either case it is the wrong characterization of the noema (and, to an extent, the wrong characterization of noesis).

I myself will not change it, both because I am a little too shy to do so because I know the meaning of Husserl is widely debated, and because the definitions of noema and noesis are secondary to the purpose of presenting them in the paragraph. I really don't know all that much about Merleau-Ponty, but I do know that he rejects subject-object dualism, and thus it seems to be correct to say that he rejected the intentional-subject/intentioned-object distinction as key, or even sound. -Drifter 00:52, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

It's a genuine difficulty with Husserl. There's a debate between East Coast and West Coast interpretations of the noema over whether the object-that-is-intended (i.e. roughly the way you understood 'intentional object') is or is not numerically identical with the object-as-it-is-intended (i.e. the noema). Part of the reason why these cumbersome hyphenations are used is because of the ambiguity of the term "intentional object", which could refer to either. Dan Zahavi's little book "Husserl's Phenomenology" (Standford UP, 2003 - esp. 57ff) is really helpful here. -Justin Tauber 21 December 2006

Merleau-Ponty not an existentialist?[edit]

The claim that Merleau-Ponty is "mistakenly" called an existentialist needs support. From what I understand, Merleau-Ponty is an "existential phenomenologist".--Disquieter 15:52, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

M-P is by and large considered to be an existentialist, as he was in frequent dialogue with Sartre, Marcel and Beauvoir, and as his thought was heavily influenced by Heidegger. However, he was critical of the individualist strain running through previous existentialist thought, and showed strong alliances with structuralism, especially regarding language. His later thought even precipitates deconstruction and post-structuralist thought. I made these changes to the page but they were erased for lack of citations. There is a book called "Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Between Phenomenology and Structuralism" by James Schmidt. I don't know how to cite this so I hope someone else might. There are also numerous scholarly articles comparing M-P to structuralist, post-structuralist and deconstructionist thinkers. His work eludes easy classification but he is most definitely an existentialist. 108.36.218.138 (talk) 01:32, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

Politics[edit]

Merleau-Ponty wrote seriously on Politics throughout most of his career. Much of this work is a critique but also an example and defense of the dialectical method, e.g., Humanism and Terror and Adventures of the Dialectic. Indeed, this last, which contained a strong critique of Sartre's 'subjectivism,' is one of the causes of Sartre's writing his Critique of Dialectical Reason. The relation of M-P to dialectics needs more than a passing mention and should be fleshed out. Indeed, section 3.10 of the Main Page, 'Politics', does not even have any content! Besides the two books mentioned above both Signs and Sense and Nonsense also contain several articles on Political themes. Pomonomo2003 13:52, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

I agree. In particular "Humanism and Terror", with its apology of Stalinism, is a text of terrifying lucidity and of great historical importance. In my opinion MP's support for Stalinism is not less significant and revealing than Heidegger's Nazi involvement. L'omo del batocio (talk) 15:20, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Authors' names[edit]

Hello there. I found the literature appendix interesting (the works on M.-P.; his own I had found elsewhere before), but also a bit frustrating: is there any rule at WP that the authors should not be listed with their full names ? It would make searching in libraries, ordering etc easier if first names were not abbreviated to mere initals. Also I find it a matter of respect to honour a person the fruits of whose labour we enjoy by taking the time and writing a name in full. / I searched for the one that interests me most and added the letters ("Shaun" - that has pleasant acoustic qualities as well, which are otherwise lost...), but it costs time to do so for all. 147.142.186.54 (talk) 14:43, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Editing[edit]

This page is borderline incomprehensible and occasionally flat out wrong. My goal is to rewrite large portions of it over the next several months. I see no reason why an article on Merleau-Ponty can't be both scholarly and clear. This seems especially pressing as his importance and influence continues to rise both in philosophy and cognitive science. I've already edited the intro paragraph (though I am not done) and fixed some of the French in the Corporeity section. I'm seriously tempted to delete the stuff about the noesis and the noema as well as the misattribution of all consciousness being consciousness of something (Brentano! not Husserl). Clearly since the notion that consciousness is intentional does not originate with Husserl and the noetic/noematic structure of consciousness does originate with Husserl there is not reason to assume that one implies the other. In fact there are many philosophers who believe that consciousness is intentional who believe that consciousness is representational. Ninjaphilosopher (talk) 16:31, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

I strongly oppose your suggested revisions and shall valiantly resist them!--CptnHammer (talk) 05:07, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Birth date in question?[edit]

The birth date listed here in the main heading is 14 MAR 1908; this seems to be generally accepted, here, and a few other places I've looked online. But, one website has 1902 as the year and The Oxford Companion To Philosophy (Honderich, 1995) says 1907. Also, I saw someone changed the time of his fathers death from sometime during WW I to "...died in 1913 when Merleau-Ponty was 3". Obviously something needs to be changed here, is anyone aware of his birth being questionable or controversial at all? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 97.115.2.126 (talk) 15:32, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

Fuming Intellectual[edit]

Was his death at 53 of a stroke another consequence of the French love affair with Mlle. Gauloises?Lestrade (talk) 01:19, 10 November 2012 (UTC)Lestrade

'Being in the world': Translation issue[edit]

I think the term 'being in the world' doesn't really fit the original french phrase. In french it is 'etrê au monde' which could (and imho think should) be translated: 'being to the world' as 'au monde' implies a special relation and is intentionally used by Merleau-Ponty (instead of 'dans' e.g.). In german the phrase is always translated as 'Zur-Welt-sein' in which 'Zur-Welt' reflects the relation 'au monde' in this important sense.

I saw also that there is a citation for this part of the article (No. 14). So i don't know if the phrase, as it's translated in english here, is the translation used in the book and if this is the translation mostly used in reference to this topic in the english-speaking language area or just directly from the author himself.

[Source: 'Phänomenologie der Wahrnehmung'; translated by Rudolf Boehm; 1966, de Gruyter, Berlin, p. 7, footnote d.] — Preceding unsigned comment added by 139.18.241.70 (talk) 12:51, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

(I want to add that i don't speak french (or english for that matter) as my first language.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 139.18.241.70 (talk) 12:38, 18 November 2013 (UTC)