Volume 16, 2016
Film and Phenomenology
Circulus Vitiosus Deus
Merleau-Ponty’s Ontology of Ontology
This essay attempts to provide a unified analysis of two working notes from The Visible and the Invisible. In these notes Merleau-Ponty questions not only the accuracy of the ontology he is elaborating, but also the incidence and place of this ontology within the Being it describes. He finds that his ontology transforms Being as it describes it, and therefore keeps chasing its tail endlessly. This view is suggested by Merleau-Ponty’s use of Nietzsche’s expression “circulus vitiosus Deus” as a formula that both he and Nietzsche use to describe the ontological place of their ontology. Merleau-Ponty, like Nietzsche, offers an ontology in which Being is highly sensitive to ontological accounts, thereby construing Being as a principle of commensurability between action and description, language and reality, philosophy and world.