The Systematic Import of Merleau-Ponty’s Philosophy of Literature

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Abstract
Scholarly discussions of Merleau-Ponty’s aesthetics tend to focus on his philosophy of painting. By contrast, comparatively little attention has been paid to his philosophy of literature. However, he also draws significant conclusions from his work on literary expression. As I will argue, these reflections inform at least two important positions of his later thought. First, Merleau-Ponty’s account of “indirect” literary language led him to develop a hybrid view of phenomenological expression, on which expression is both creative and descriptive. Second, a study of literature furnished him with the resources to develop a novel account of phenomenological “essences”, which holds that essences are revisable explanations of first-order experience. Both results have been overlooked by commentators. They demonstrate the systematic import of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of literature and language, and amount to a qualified extension of a basic Husserlian position.
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2017, 2018
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Archival date: 2020-03-29
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2017-10-26

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