Metaphysical Consciousness and Unconsciousness in Merleau-Ponty

Phenomenological Studies 2 (2018) (forthcoming)

Michel Dalissier
Kanazawa University
I begin by comparing and contrasting Merleau-Ponty’s metaphysical project with the views of philosophers, such as Wolff, Leibniz, Bergson, Sartre, and Heidegger. Focusing on Merleau-Ponty’s most striking “metaphysical question,” the one about “bringing into being” (faire-être), I then show how it contrasts with notions such as being, non-being, and “being-made” (être fait). Responding to three objections to this theory, I, first, show how “making” (faire) is distinct from “acting.” Second, I argue that “bringing into being” is only actualized in “metaphysical consciousness”, when it shifts from wondering before the paradox to realizing that the contradiction can be fruitful. This is a critique of the foundation metaphysics in Aristotle and Plato. Third, I propose four arguments in order to counter the view that Merleau-Ponty’s metaphysics is just the unthinkable blind spot of his thought. I conclude by showing that his emphasis on consciousness allows us to distinguish three meanings of unconsciousness.
Keywords Metaphysics  Ontology  Phenomenology  Merleau-Ponty  Consciousness  Aristotle  Plato  Unconsciousness  Making-Be  Action
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