Merleau-Ponty on Husserl: A Reappraisal

In Ted Toadvine & Lester E. Embree (eds.). Kluwer Academic Publishers (2002)
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If one comes to Phénoménologie de la perception after having read Sein und Zeit (or Prolegomena zur Geschichte des Zeitbegriffs) one will be in for a surprise. Both works contain a number of both implicit and explicit references to Husserl, but the presentation they give is so utterly different, that one might occasionally wonder whether they are referring to the same author. Thus nobody can overlook that Merleau-Ponty’s interpretation of Husserl differs significantly from Heidegger’s. It is far more charitable. In fact, when evaluating the merits of respectively Husserl and Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty often goes very much against the standard view. This is not only the case in his notorious remark on the very first page of Phénoménologie de la Perception where he declares that the whole of Sein und Zeit is nothing but an explication of Husserl’s notion of Lifeworld, but also - to give just one further example - in one of his Sorbonne-lectures, where Merleau-Ponty writes that Husserl took the issue of historicity far more seriously than Heidegger.



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Dan Zahavi
University of Copenhagen

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