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Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 11, 2011

Concepts of Tradition in Phenomenology

Judith Wambacq
Pages 309-325

Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Criticism of Bergson’s Theory of Time Seen Through The Work of Gilles Deleuze

In this article I examine the relation between the philosophies of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Gilles Deleuze by looking at the way in which they refer to Henri Bergson’s time theory. Although Merleau-Ponty develops some fundamental Bergsonian insights on the nature of time, he presents himself as a critical reader of the latter. I will show that although Merleau-Ponty’s interpretation of Bergson differs fundamentally from Deleuze’s interpretation, Merleau-Ponty’s “corrections” of Bergson’s theory fit Deleuze’s reading of Bergson very well. This indicates a similarity with respect to what is at stake in the philosophies of Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze. Hence the critical reference that Deleuze makes to Merleau-Ponty’s conception of cinema and thus of movement is not justified, but is the result of a selective and prototypical reading of the early Merleau-Ponty.

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