Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 40 (1):3-33 (1978)

To see, to speak, to think : these are the three main topics of Merleau-Ponty's philosophy, tragically interrupted in 1961. He intended to write two works on The Origin of Truth. To understand the relationship between Merleau-Ponty I and Merleau-Ponty II it is a good lead to pay attention to the relationship between seeing, speaking and thinking. In a central passage of Phenomenology of Perception this relationship is called Fundierung. Merleau-Ponty conceives it as a two way relationship, which excludes every possibility of reducing one term to another . Yet, at that time he is not able to point out clearly the originality of thinking. L'Oeil et l'Esprit and Le Visible et l'Invisible provide a first outline of l'Origine de la Vérité. The 'second' Merleau-Ponty wants to 'reassume' his whole philosophy in what he calls : fundamental thinking. Painting opens the way to the mystery of seeing : something visible begins to see. Subject and object are no longer opposed to one another ; not even related by intentionality. The new key-word is Ineinander . 'La chair' is a new notion, broader and more fundamental than the body. The sensible reflects upon itself. This 're-flection' is a work of Being. The visible can be seen in principle. Philosophy should accompany the coming-to-see of the visible. In this perspective the transition to thinking must be seen as a new case of 'reversibilité'. The generality of the visible opens up to the 'invisible', that which in principle cannot be seen, but is 'the other side' of the visible. The basic phenomenon of expression is central here. Language is not an absolute starting point. Language is rather a new and more subtile form of coporeity, a new instance of the same basic reversibility, which already contains the seeds of ideality . The idea is of the word a second and more manageable expression. So, what is philosophy for the second Merleau-Ponty ? Thinking reassumes our tacit and bodily contact with beings, which itself is already a case of reflexivity . Philosophy is a 'sur-réflexion', a new reflexion upon the basic phenomenon or reflexivity. The later Merleau-Ponty pleads in favor of a philosophy in which the ultimate, philosophical questions are taken seriously. He intended to write a philosophy of nature, which he called an 'indirect' ontology . Although we have only some sketchy outlines of this new ontology, there can be no doubt that the later Merleau-Ponty wanted to reassume the 'perpetual task of philosophy'
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