What is it about?

This essay is primarily concerned with probing the possibility of a phenomenological ontology. Merleau-Ponty does favor Heidegger’s later move toward an indirect expression of Being but does not think that he consistently maintains this view. The lecture course makes evident a number of differences between the two philosophers, with Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy solving more problems than that of his much revered counterpart.

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Why is it important?

It has been said that one of the great tragedies of twentieth century continental philosophy is the shockingly premature death of Merleau-Ponty. Part of this tragedy is that many scholars were hoping for and looking forward to the sort of detailed criticism of Heidegger that he had previously offered of Sartre. His late lectures, while not overly critical, provide a number of insightful criticisms of Heidegger's philosophy.


Frederick Olafson, in his Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Merleau-Ponty, has convincingly argued that Melreau-Ponty should not be treated as a sort of "junior collaborator" of Sartre and that Merleau-Ponty's works are often "markedly superior." It is time that a similar case be made with respect to Merleau-Ponty's relationship to Heidegger. Merleau-Ponty's late lectures on Heidegger reveal a philosopher completely in command of his discipline and fully capable of independently developing his own thought, a thought in many cases that solves problems that Heidegger's cannot.

Merleau-Ponty's Lectures on Heidegger Douglas Beck Low
University of West Florida

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This page is a summary of: Merleau-Ponty’s Lectures on Heidegger, Research in Phenomenology, April 2021, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/15691640-12341467.
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