An Existential Phenomenology of Law: Maurice Merleau-Ponty by William S. Hamrick

By William S. Hamrick

The following pages try and boost the most outlines of an existential phenomenology of legislations in the context of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's phe­ nomenology of the social international. In so doing, the essay addresses the relatively slender scholarly query, If Merleau-Ponty had written a phenomenology of legislations, what would it not have appeared like? yet this scholarly firm, even if impeccable in itself, can also be transcended via a extra advanced difficulty for a truly diverse type of query. particularly, if Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological descriptions of the social global are correct-as i think they principally are-then what are the philosophical outcomes for an enough figuring out of legislation? this sort of venture may perhaps get together a undeniable shock among observers of the modern philosophical panorama, no less than in what issues the terrain of continental proposal, and for 2 diversified purposes. the 1st is that, even if curiosity in Merleau-Ponty's paintings is still powerful within the· usa and will­ ada, his philosophical status in his personal state has been principally eclipsed! by means of that of, first, his friend/estranged acquaintance, Jean-Paul Sartre; through quite a few Marxist philosophies and important social theories; and at last by means of these doing her­ meneutics of language. for my part, present overlook of Merleau-Ponty's proposal in France is so much regrettable.

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Moreover, it is at this same, more origin-ary level of intentionality that the historicity of consciousness is first deepened by gaining an established purchase on the world, namely through the medium of bodily habits. For it is the habitual body in Merleau-Ponty's early works that plays the role of institution in his later ones. It does this by rescuing the freedom of consciousness from the necessity of being, it la Sartre, a continual, instantaneous meaning-giver. That is, freedom is already present in the most basic level of perceptual life as a spontaneous, nondetermined structuring of a perceptual field.

Phenomenologists have always been obsessed with the unity of consciousness or, more fundamentally, showing that there can be a unitary consciousness. Particularly set against the sceptical arguments of Hume, Merleau-Ponty saw clearly, as Husserl had, that the former's difficulties in accounting for memory, personal identity, and the persistence of a world not dependent on our mental acts all stemmed from his instantial, or atomistic, concept of time-the quanta of which had no instrinsic connection with each other.

Edie, "Merleau-Ponty: The Triumph of Dialectics over Structuralism," Man and World 17: 299-312 (1984) at p. 304. N. Mohanty, ed. Phenomenology and the Human Sciences (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1985), p. 64. 9. "Le Primat de la perception et ses consequences philosophiques," Bulletin de la Societe Franraise de Philosoph ie, XLI, 1947 (seance du 23 novembre 1946), p. 125. 10. "Le Primat de la perception et ses consequences philosophiques," pp. 124-25. 11. Sartre also complained with some bitterness, and considerable sarcasm, of the idealistic basis of their common philosophical training- with particular reference to the idealism of their teacher, Leon Brunschvicg.

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