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Flesh and différance – Derrida and Merleau-Ponty

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter some parallels is drawn between key elements of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's and Jacques Derrida's thinking. When Merleau-Ponty died in May 1961 he left behind a sizeable manuscript, that he had considered naming The Origin of Truth, which contains his ultimate, albeit incomplete, attempt to overcome the distinction between consciousness and object and arrive at what one might call a holistic ontology. At the same time, Jacques Derrida was immersing himself in Edmund Husserl's phenomenology in much the same way as Merleau-Ponty did early on in his academic career. Through his close reading of Husserl, but also building on his encounter with the semiology of Ferdinand de Saussure, Derrida gradually developed an unusual "concept" that, in fact, was to be "neither a word nor a concept"- a term that resisted naming in the traditional philosophical sense: namely, différance.

Keywords: différance; Ferdinand de Saussure; holistic ontology; Husserl; Jacques Derrida; Merleau-Ponty; The Origin of Truth



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