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 legislation in the context of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's phe­ nomenology of the social global. In so doing, the essay addresses the relatively slender scholarly query, If Merleau-Ponty had written a phenomenology of legislations, what wouldn't it have appeared like? yet this scholarly company, even supposing impeccable in itself, is usually transcended via a extra advanced trouble for a really assorted type of query. particularly, if Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological descriptions of the social global are correct-as i feel they principally are-then what are the philosophical effects for an enough figuring out of legislations? one of these venture may possibly social gathering a definite shock among observers of the modern philosophical panorama, at the least in what matters the terrain of continental inspiration, and for 2 diversified purposes. the 1st is that, even supposing curiosity in Merleau-Ponty's paintings continues to be robust within the· usa and will­ ada, his philosophical status in his personal kingdom has been principally eclipsed! through that of, first, his friend/estranged acquaintance, Jean-Paul Sartre; through numerous Marxist philosophies and demanding social theories; and at last by means of these doing her­ meneutics of language. in my opinion, present forget of Merleau-Ponty's inspiration in France is such a lot regrettable.

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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.

L0 In the social world, as distinct from the perceptual, otherness manifests itself in ways much more immediately relevant for the phenomenon of law-particularly in the economic and political domains-in terms of conflicts of interests. Thus despite the intimacy and closeness of human relationships, there is, in the sort of world we inhabit, no pre-established harmony of needs and wants: the social world "is not a collective consciousness, but intersubjectivity, a living relationship and tension between individuals" (SNS 157).

Edie, p. 69. Edie, p. 65. '" (pp. 64-65, citing "An Unpublished Text" at p. ) Edie, p. 66. II: HISTORY AND THE ORIGIN OF MEANING Philosophy, in Merleau-Ponty's view, always comprises a return "to an intersubjectivity which, ever more closely, binds us to the whole of history" (8 141). Accordingly, history is a subject with which Merleau-Ponty is concerned again and again throughout his works, from the earliest up to the very last writings. Across these texts, he is concerned to argue that history provides intersubjectivity with temporal depth by (i) furnishing a dimension of historicity to an individual consciousness, by (ii) anchoring our incarnate freedom in an established order of sedimented meanings, and finally by (iii) elaborating our relationships with others in the creation of truth, meaning, and rationality.

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