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On Merleau-Ponty’s Debate with Sartre’s Phenomenological Metaphysics

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Chapter Summary

In Adventures of the Dialectic, his critique focused primarily on political matters, but in his later, posthumously published work he contested very foundations of Sartre's thought. By now it is a commonplace among phenomenologists that Merleau- Ponty's critique of Sartre's Being and Nothingness was well-founded. In Being and Nothingness, Sartre takes up and carries on Husserl's idea of a phenomenological metaphysics, and by doing so he becomes one of the few followers of Husserl to gain access to this idea. Merleau-Ponty's critique of Being and Nothingness is not without significance; it calls attention to misguided interpretations of some phenomena in this work and such critique has its value. In Being and Nothingness, this notion is used to indicate the relationship between 'being-for-itself' and 'being-initself'. Sartre takes it for granted that "upsurge of the for-itself in the in-itself" is an "absolute event", which, is necessarily characterized by an "original contingency".

Keywords: Being and Nothingness; Husserl's idea; Merleau-Ponty's critique; phenomenological metaphysics; Sartre



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