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Merleau-Ponty and the Meaning of Civilizations

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Chapter Summary

This chapter signifies the Merleau-Ponty's philosophy for a recent and in authors opinion eminently promising development in social theory; approach known for short as civilizational analysis, and more explicitly as comparative analysis of civilizations. The "dimensions of history" are linked to idea of plurality of civilizations, and we can assume that Merleau-Ponty was familiar enough with French debates during preceding three decades to know what he was doing when he used term "civilization" in this way. The list of dimensions is obviously selective, and each of thematic foci mentioned by Merleau-Ponty is intrinsically connected to other aspects of broader context. The notion of world as horizon open to diverse articulations is introduced as common background to particular dimensions singled out as foci and sources of meaning but also as meta-dimension that makes it possible to envisage additions and changes to any concrete configuration of aspects or moments.

Keywords: civilizations; comparative analysis; dimensions of history; French debates; Merleau-Ponty; meta-dimension; thematic foci



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