Maurice Merleau-Ponty is widely recognized as one of the major figures of twentieth-century philosophy. The recent publication of his lecture courses and posthumous working notes has opened new avenues for both the interpretation of his thought and philosophy in general. These works confirm that, with a surprising premonition, Merleau-Ponty addressed many of the issues that concern philosophy today. With the benefit of this fuller picture of his thought, Merleau-Ponty and Contemporary Philosophy undertakes an assessment of the philosopher’s relevance for contemporary thinking. Covering a diverse range of topics, including ontology, epistemology, anthropology, embodiment, animality, politics, language, aesthetics, and art, the editors gather representative voices from North America and Europe, including both Merleau-Ponty specialists and thinkers who have come to the philosopher’s work through their own thematic interest.
“Merleau-Ponty and Contemporary Philosophy offers a rich set of writings by central and rising scholars, spanning various languages and traditions, who together show Merleau-Ponty’s continuing relevance for contemporary thinking on phenomenology, mind and nature, politics and power, and art and creation. This book will advance scholarship and also open new doors for those seeking to find their way into Merleau-Ponty’s ways of thinking.” — David Morris, author of The Sense of Space
Emmanuel Alloa is Professor of Aesthetics at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. His books include Resistance of the Sensible World: An Introduction to Merleau-Ponty.
Frank Chouraqui is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Continental Philosophy at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. His books include Ambiguity and the Absolute: Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty on the Question of Truth.
Rajiv Kaushik is Professor of Philosophy at Brock University, Canada. His books include Merleau-Ponty between Philosophy and Symbolism: The Matrixed Ontology, also published by SUNY Press.
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
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