How does Novelty Arise? Institution and Transcendence

Filozofia 72 (4):259-270 (2017)
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The paper shows different approaches to creativity, i.e. emergence of new meanings, in Merleau-Ponty and Patočka. The comparison is based mainly on Merleau-Ponty’s lectures L’institution dans l’histoire personnelle et publique (1954/55) and Patočka’s project Negative Platonism (1953). Despite some similarities evident in the key concepts “institution” and “transcendence”, there is a decisive difference between the two approaches concerning the temporality of creation. Whereas Merleau-Ponty likens the temporality of institution to future perfect tense, emphasizing the intertwining of present and future events, Patočka understands novelty as something totally different from the present state of affairs. In his eyes, the question of how something new can arise equals the question of how an attitude of distance to existing traditions can be achieved. Contrary to Patočka, Merleau-Ponty argues that any living tradition tends towards its own transformation and presents a case of self-transcendence because it is governed by the principle of divergence (écart). Finally, we argue that some aspects of these two approaches both complement each other, and also show the limits of each other.
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