Maurice Merleau-Ponty Congress

It has been recently brought to my attention that a congress will be held next week at Sofia University (Bulgaria) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's birth. Merleau-Ponty was a French phenomenologist in the school of Husserl, was an associate of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and had affinities with Heidegger as well.

If you are in interested in learning more about the congress, you can check out its website, which includes a schedule. You might also be interested in checking out the university's website.

Thanks to my frequent commentator "Luke" for alerting me to this congress. He is presenting a paper there, and perhaps he would be willing to share briefly with us the argument that he will make.


Luke said…
Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961) was the first who systematically studied the papers of Husserl in Louvain. He produced a pair of excellent works (La structure du comportement and Phénoménologie de la Perception) that today are still interesting books. Unfortunately, his work is hidden behind that of Sartre or Heidegger, and is not very well known outside the French environment. Recently, American philosophers feel a great interest for him and interpret his work in an interesting way, although different of that of the French philosophers. Among his followers highlights the Belgian philosopher Alphonse De Waelhens, who was professor of my professors in Louvain.

If you check the schedule, my real name is Sergi Avilés (“Luke” is the name of my son). Here is briefly my argument.

Epistemology and Metaphysics are two deeply interconnected disciplines. Their relationship is so powerful that even the possibility of producing a responsible speech on the latter depends on the response previously given to the first one. I will defend that a cogent metaphysical speech is possible and that it mainly consists in the explicitation and clarification of the epistemological presuppositions implied in human behaviour. Besides I will defend that the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty offers excellent grounds for such an attempt.

First I will sketch how ordinary consciousness understands and tries to solve the problem. I will show the significant contradictions involved in it. Then, I will focus on Heidegger. I will try to demonstrate why the solution offered by the German thinker is not satisfactory, given his limited conception of the subject-object relationship. Heidegger does not develop the implications of human behaviour. Finally, I will show how the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty does develop these latter implications and offers a correct platform for a realistic (attached to things) and responsible metaphysical speech (considering the human mode of being). I will move around the central problem of all philosophy of incarnation: to demonstrate how it is possible that an existential attitude becomes the sense of a physiological fact.

In the last part, I will evaluate the scope of the French thinker. I will try to show his relevance for metaphysics but also show his limitations and offer possible ways for a further development.
Shane said…
Who did you work with at Leuven?

Luke said…
In Louvain, my professors Andreu Marquès and Josep M. Via Taltavull, learnt under A. De Waelhens, Ferdinand Van Stenbergen, L. De Raeyemaker, J. Ladrière, Van Breda.
Their class fellows were Jacques Taminiaux and Joseph Gevaert.
That was in the last 60s.
Shane said…
Ah, well before my time there.

I just returned from Leuven this past year. I did get to take a few classes from Rudolph Bernet, Rudi Visker and Paul Moyaert, but I suppose they must have been still doctoral students or perhaps relatively new professors at that point.
Luke said…
Tell me, what is the current intellectual situation at Leuven?

They told me hegelianism is the predominant trend now.
Shane said…
I didn't meet many people who were all that interested in Hegel. I think there was one class offered on Hegel by William Desmond, who is not sympathetic at all. It seemed to me that the dominant thing going around was Heideggerianism.

The biggest news I know of at Leuven is that Burnet is retiring as head of the Husserl Archiv and Ulrich Melle will be taking over for him. I think the Husserl Archiv has also now ceased to put out new volumes of the Husserliana, so the center will remain open, but in a greatly diminished importance.

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