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Chiasmi International

Volume 21, 2019

Merleau-Ponty, Literature, and Literary Language

Franck Robert
Pages 149-165

Merleau-Ponty, L’origine de la géométrie et la littérature

The commentary Merleau-Ponty offers in 1960 on Husserl’s The Origin of Geometry gives a privileged place to language, to writing: it is perhaps a great astonishment to see Merleau-Ponty, in continuity with Husserl, thinking about the genesis of geometrical ideality beginning from a meditation on literature. Merleau-Ponty’s reflection on literature took a decisive ontological turn at the beginning of the 1950s, notably in the long commentary on Proust in 1953-1954. It is in this spirit that the course of 1960 grants to literature an ontological sense: the ideality of geometry can occur as ideality by the passage to speech and to writing, but the meaning of even scientific ideality can be understood only if one places it on the basis of more fundamental idealities that literature precisely reveals, idealities that are linked across time, in the connection between past and present, self and other. Literature clarifies the history of geometry in yet another manner: it brings to light the intertwining of human-language-world, condition of the emergence of a true sense, which occurs in the history of geometry, and which literature, assuming our being in speech bears more fundamentally still.

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