Abstract
The primary concem of this essay is the similarity and difference between Merleau-Ponty’s early and late philosophy of language. While some argue that Merleau-Ponty’s late work breaks with the earlier text and foreshadows poststructuralist and deconstructionist philosophy of language, I argue that there is no significant break in Merleau-Ponty’s thought. The similarities discovered between the early and late philosophy of language are 1.) that the body opens onto a world that is shared by all, 2.) that human gestures interpenetrate and aim at the same world, and 3.) that the visual field that is already structured by the body/world interaction provides the basis for more abstract linguistic expression. The most fundamental difference discovered between these texts is that Merleau-Ponty abandons his earlier concept of the tacit cogito for the reflexivity of the body. Merleau-Ponty’s attempt to relate this reflexivity to language will also be discussed.Since there is such confusion and debate about the continuity of Merleau-Ponty’s thought, especially with respect to his philosophy of language, I have cast the essay in the form of a comprehensive exposition. The detailed textual exposition serves two purposes. First, it provides a comprehensive essay length introduction to Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of language, and secondly, it reveals Merleau-Ponty’s thoughts in his own words, thus reducing the possibility of misinterpretation.
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
Categories No categories specified
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ISBN(s) 1053-8364
DOI jpr_1992_1
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