Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Gary B. Madison
Phenomenology is oharacteristically assooiated with the motto 'to the things themselves', or even more tellingly, 'back tc the things themselves'. This injunction makes senSe only against the background of the belief that somehow we are at Some remove from 'the things themselves' tc which we are inv i ted to return. In phenomenology, this 'origin' is variously determined as 'experience', 'existence', 'the life-world', and sa on. Much depends upon how we understand thiS return that phenomenology advocates and practises. On one interpretation, phenomenology claims to extricate itself from prejudices, which distort or otherwise falSify 'experience', in favour of achieving a direct and presuppositionless contact with experience, as if there were something like a pristine experience, a raw datum, that could be disclosed in a presuppositionless seeinga Such is how Derrida, for example, interprets phenomenology, and it is on these grounds that he relegates it to the 'metaphysios of presence'. Several commentatorS have argued (and Derrida himself has suggested) that Merleau-Ponty's The Visible and the Invisible breaks with phenomenology in the above Sense a argue that even in hiS Phenomenology of Perception (and to a lesser extent in Husserl's later writings) phenomenology is in fact less naive than Derrida and others would have uS believe. Admittedly, conservative prejudioeS are at work in the Phenomenology, but on the whole the momentum of the text is on the Side of a break with and implicit critique of the metaphysicS of presence. Certain indications to the contrary notwithstanding, Merleau-Ponty attempts to articulate a conception of phenomenology significantly different than the one described above~ a conception that would take into account the fact that phenomenology is itself a point of view and as such mediates the disclosure of lthe things themselves'. Merleau-Ponty focuses this mediation with reference to language, and more preoisely with referenoe to phenomenology as itself an instance of language, Such development as occurS in his philosophy fleshes out, and does not repudiate, the teaching of the Phenomenology concerning language and expression. The phenomenologist neither mirrors nor coincides with experience in the sense of a full presence on the other side of speech. He expresses experience, and hiS expression is necessarily a creative deed. ThiS emphaSiS upon phenomenology's creativity has not received due recognition in the literature on Marleau-Panty. Merleau-Ponty's philosophy, argue, is best characterized as an attempt to reconcile the ideas of adequation and creativity. It embraces both the demand to return to 'the things themselves', the demand to be faithful to experience, and the recognition that, in virtue of its own linguisticality, phenomenology's rendering of experience is neoessarily creative. ThiS tenSion, which traoe throughout Herleau-Ponty's writings, is what is comprehended in the paradOXical expression 'creative adequation'.
Yeo, Michael Terrence, "Creative Adequation: Merleau-Ponty's Philosophy of Philosophy" (1987). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3828.