Merleau-Ponty between Philosophy and Symbolism: The Matrixed Ontology

SUNY Press
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Argues that symbolism is an important and unique element of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology.


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

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About the author

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.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Nov 1, 2019
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Pages
202
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ISBN
9781438476773
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Movements / Phenomenology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Art, Language and Figure in Merleau-Ponty: Excursions in Hyper-Dialectic considers Merleau-Ponty's later ontology of language in the light of his “figured philosophy,” which places the work of art at the centre of its investigation. Kaushik argues that, since for Merleau-Ponty the work of art actualizes a sensible ontology that would otherwise be invisible to the history of dialectics, it undermines the fundamental difference between being and linguistic structures.

Art, Language and Figure in Merleau-Ponty takes up the radical task of the figured philosophy to render sensible and linguistic spaces prior to the thought of their separation. Kaushik situates Merleau-Ponty's criticisms of Saussure's linguistic system, as well as a more general repudiation of the act of inscribing in favour of an abstracted textual meaning, in this context. Following the artists most important to Merleau-Ponty's own writings on art, such as Paul Klee and his fascination with hieroglyphics, and extending these analyses to more recent 21st Century artists such as Cy Twombly, Kaushik takes an excursion into the places where art and language, image and text, drawing and writing, figure and discourse, are interlaced in Merleau-Ponty's last ontology. In view of these intersections, Kaushik ultimately argues, the work of art gives us the spaces where the possibilities of philosophy, both past and future, reside. As the first sustained treatment into the relationship between art and language, this is an important contribution to Meleau-Ponty's philosophy and scholars of aesthetics.
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