Biografía de Maurice Merleau-Ponty

¿Quién fue Maurice Merleau-Ponty?

. Versión original en english.

Maurice Merleau-Ponty (March 14, 1908 – May 3, 1961) was a French phenomenological philosopher, strongly influenced by Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. The constitution of meaning in human experience was his main interest and he wrote on perception, art, politics, and history. His work is characterized by its effort to reunite subject and object and accords primacy to perception.

Born in Rochefort-du-Gard, France, Merleau-Ponty earned degrees in history and philosophy at the Sorbonne, and then pursued a teaching career. In the 1930s he became increasingly influenced by Husserl’s phenomenology and Heidegger’s existentialism, and began to teach those philosophies at the Collège de France and other institutions. Although agreeing with much of Heidegger’s early work, Merleau-Ponty critiqued Heidegger’s later philosophy as an attempt to evade the problems of subjectivity.

During World War II Merleau-Ponty worked with Jean-Paul Sartre on LEtat de siège, an account of life under German occupation. In 1945 he published Phénoménologie de la perception, a major phenomenological work that established his reputation. While associated with the politically active leftist intellectuals associated with Sartre, Merleau-Ponty’s own socialism was always more moderate, and he remained wary of Marxist dogmatism. In the post-war years he authored several other important works, including Humanisme et terreur, Les Aventures de la dialectique, and Signes.

Merleau-Ponty’s later years were marked by political disillusionment and poor health. In 1961 he committed suicide, shooting himself in the head after a long period of depression.

Merleau-Ponty’s work is difficult to summarize, in part because of the range of his interests and in part because of the intricate ways his early work (under the influence of Husserl and Heidegger) relates to his later work (which seeks to synthesize phenomenology and Marxism). In general, Merleau-Ponty’s early work is concerned with the constitution of meaning in human experience, while his later work is more overtly political.

Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology is a direct outgrowth of Husserl’s, and owes a debt to Heidegger as well. Like Husserl, Merleau-Ponty is concerned with the nature of intentional consciousness: how it is that we are aware of something. And like Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty emphasizes the primacy of our lived, embodied experience: our being-in-the-world.

However, Merleau-Ponty departs from Husserl in rejecting the latter’s effort to understand consciousness as a kind of inner, mental activity. For Merleau-Ponty, consciousness is not something that happens inside our heads; rather, it is a kind of embodied activity that we engage in as we interact with our environment. This emphasis on embodiment is one of the most distinctive features of Merleau-Ponty’s thought.

Another distinctive feature of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology is its insistence on the pre-reflective, intuitive nature of consciousness. Merleau-Ponty criticizes Husserl’s idea that consciousness is primarily reflective; that is, that we first have some kind of immediate, unreflective awareness of the world, and only later (reflectively) become aware of this unreflective awareness. For Merleau-Ponty, both reflective and unreflective awareness are essential components of consciousness.

Merleau-Ponty’s later work is characterized by an effort to synthesis phenomenology and Marxism. This effort is most evident in his book Les Aventures de la dialectique, in which he argues that Marxism needs to be supplemented by a phenomenological account of human subjectivity..

Escrito por: Gonzalo Jiménez

Licenciado en Filosofía en la Universidad de Granada (UGR), con Máster en Filosofía Contemporánea en la Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)
Desde 2015, se ha desempeñado como docente universitario y como colaborador en diversas publicaciones Académicas, con artículos y ensayos. Es aficionado a la lectura de textos antiguos y le gustan las películas y los gatos.