Chiasmi International

Volume 25, 2023

Horizons of War, of Criticism, of the Future

Takashi Kakuni
Pages 143-154

Lecture de l’Esthétique de Hegel par Merleau-Ponty

In this article, I highlight the following points. In 2022, the publication of the two volumes Inédits I (1946-1947) and Inédits II (1947-1949) was a great surprise. Among the many discoveries I made, I will focus here on the reading notes Merleau-Ponty had prepared on Hegel’s Aesthetics. I suggest that the motives of his reading of Hegel’s Aesthetics must be understood according to two aspects, intimately linked: they are first due to the fact that he himself was trying to formulate his own theory of art and aesthetics; and second that he had in mind Sartre’s work What is Literature? I show that, indeed, in his reading of the Aesthetics, Merleau-Ponty very clearly focuses on the distinction between the different genres of art and on their historical divisions. This is a point that leads me to raise the following question: What are the distinctions between artistic genres in Merleau-Ponty? Here, for me it is above all a question of taking into account Merleau-Ponty’s reservations, exposed in his later essay “Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence,” concerning the Sartrean conception of literature which distinguishes poetry from prose. Ultimately, I defend the idea that Merleau-Ponty proposes an experience of art that is inter-genre and inter-media, which opens an indefinite horizon from the historical limitation of art. Based on his theory of language and art, he thus recognized the historicity of language and art, while considering the possibility of transforming this historicity into something open.