Merleau-Ponty says in his Institution and Passivity lectures that he wants to “consider criticism itself as a symbolic form” instead of doing “a philosophy of symbolic form.” This invites the possibility of an unconventional thought: If critical philosophy is a symbolic form, it cannot disclose its own limits and is, in fact, uncritical. Furthermore, the symbolic form can never itself be thought according to the terms of the criticism it produces but is always only constellated and matrixed within them—a symbolic form within both reflection and what it reflects on, within consciousness and the world. Thus, as Rajiv Kaushik argues, the symbolic form is another name for what Merleau-Ponty calls ontological divergence. Only now divergence introduces the question of a limit to both the subject and philosophy itself. This is nothing less than a psychoanalysis of philosophy.
Kaushik’s analyses of the matrices between space—imagination, light—dark, awake—asleep, and repression—expression reveal this symbolism in its form of divergence, its lack of origin and destination. Kaushik also argues that the phenomenology of symbolism must detour from the purely descriptive method. Drawing from Merleau-Ponty’s recently published course materials, and attentive to his reliance on literature and literary language, Merleau-Ponty between Philosophy and Symbolism continues the living force of Merleau-Ponty’s thought and develops his radical insight of the primacy of the symbolic form, even in an ontology that claims to be about the sensible and its elements.
“One of the best, most original books in Merleau-Ponty studies in recent years.” — Galen A. Johnson, author of The Retrieval of the Beautiful: Thinking Through Merleau-Ponty’s Aesthetics
Rajiv Kaushik is Professor of Philosophy at Brock University in Canada. He is the coeditor (with Emmanuel Alloa and Frank Chouraqui) of Merleau-Ponty and Contemporary Philosophy, also published by SUNY Press, and the author of Art, Language and Figure in Merleau-Ponty: Excursions in Hyper-Dialectic and Art and Institution: Aesthetics in the Late Works of Merleau-Ponty.
Nietzsche was one of the most revolutionary thinkers in Western philosophy, and Thus Spoke Zarathustra remains his most influential work. It describes how the ancient Persian prophet Zarathustra descends from his solitude in the mountains to tell the world that God is dead and that the Superman, the human embodiment of divinity, is his successor. With blazing intensity, Nietzsche argues that the meaning of existence is not to be found in religious pieties or meek submission, but in an all-powerful life force: passionate, chaotic and free.
Translated with an introduction by R. J. HOLLINGDALE