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Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908 – 1961)


French phenomenological philosopher.
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Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Thinking which displaces, or otherwise defines, the sacred has been called atheistic, and that philosophy which does not place it here or there, like a thing, but at the joining of things and words, will always be exposed to this reproach without ever being touched by it.
Merleau-Ponty quotes
The philosopher will ask himself … if the criticism we are now suggesting is not the philosophy which presses to the limit that criticism of false gods which Christianity has introduced into our history.
Merleau-Ponty
Socrates reminds us that it is not the same thing, but almost the opposite, to understand religion and to accept it.




Merleau-Ponty Maurice quotes
It is a great good fortune, as Stendhal said, for one “to have his passion as a profession.”
Merleau-Ponty Maurice
Philosophy is in history, and is never independent of historical discourse. But for the tacit symbolism of life it substitutes, in principle, a conscious symbolism; for a latent meaning, one that is manifest. It is never content to accept its historical situation. It changes this situation by revealing it to itself.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty quotes
The function [of objective thinking] is to reduce all phenomena which bear witness to the union of subject and world, putting in their place the clear idea of the object as in itself and of the subject as pure consciousness. It therefore severs the links which unite the thing and the embodied subject, leaving only sensible qualities to make up our world (to the exlusion of the modes of appearance which we have described), and preferably visual qualities, because these give the impression of being autonomous, and because they are less directly linked to our body and present us with an object rather than introducing us into an atmosphere. But in reality all things are concretions of a setting, and any explicit perception of a thing survives in virtue of a previous communication with a certain atmosphere. p. 374
Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Theology recognizes the contingency of human existence only to derive it from a necessary being, that is, to remove it. Theology makes use of philosophical wonder only for the purpose of motivating an affirmation which ends it. Philosophy, on the other hand, arouses us to what is problematic in our own existence and in that of the world, to such a point that we shall never be cured of searching for a solution.
Merleau-Ponty Maurice quotes
Machiavelli is the complete contrary of a machiavellian, since he describes the tricks of power and “gives the whole show away.” The seducer and the politician, who live in the dialectic and have a feeling and instinct for it, try their best to keep it hidden.
Merleau-Ponty
Even those who have desired to work out a completely positive philosophy have been philosophers only to the extent that, at the same time, they have refused the right to install themselves in absolute knowledge. They taught not this knowledge, but its becoming in us, not the absolute but, at most, our absolute relation to it, as Kierkegaard said. What makes a philosopher is the movement which leads back without ceasing from knowledge to ignorance, from ignorance to knowledge, and a kind of rest in this movement.
Merleau-Ponty Maurice
De Lubac discusses an atheism which means to suppress this searching, he says, “even including the problem as to what is responsible for the birth of God in human consciousness.”
Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Thought without language, says Lavelle, would not be a purer thought; it would be no more than the intention to think. And his last book offers a theory of expressiveness which makes of expression not “a faithful image of an already realized interior being, but the very means by which it is realized.”




Maurice Merleau-Ponty quotes
Montaigne [puts] not self-satisfied understanding but a consciousness astonished at itself at the core of human existence.
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