Volume 13, Issue 1, Fall 2008
The Universality of the Sensible
On Plato and the Musical Idea according to Merleau-Ponty
In reassessing the relationship between the ideal and the sensible realms, Merleau-Ponty’s later work (Notes de cours 1958–1959 et 1960–1961 and The Visible
and the Invisible) investigates the “musical idea” of Proust. This idea resembles that of the chora in the Timaeus with respect to its institution of a productive “space” between the ideal and the sensible realms. However, because the musical idea attains its status as an idea through repeated initiation in the sensible world, it transgresses the temporal structures described in the Timaeus. Indeed, the musical idea discloses not a “beginning” of time but a poetic—creative—past.