In memoriam Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Chiasmi International 23:81-84 (2021)
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Abstract

This article retraces the main instances at the root of Merleau-Ponty’s project of a « transcendental geology », a project announced in a working note of 1960. This project is linked to the complex intertwining of history and nature, which Merleau-Ponty thematizes as the two non-objectifiable dimensions that pose a challenge to reflexive thought. History and nature, both in their particular subjective manifestations as personal life or one’s own body, as well as in their broader sense as the history of peoples or nature as a domain of the unbuilt, are characterized as unavoidable, as quasi-objects that are the soil of existence. It is in this direction that Merleau-Ponty’s interest in the “ultra-things” of Henri Wallon, those entities that the child can neither conceive nor imagine, seems to be heading. I propose that ultra-things are linked to inhabiting: they are the uninhabitable and the dimensions that cannot be renounced. This relationship with inhabiting restores the relational aspect of the problem of the unreflective in Merleau-Ponty and highlights the timeliness and urgency of the program of a transcendental geology as an ecology of thought and as an ecological philosophy.

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