Fenomenologia e compromisso. O debate entre Merleau-Ponty e Sartre
This essay is an attempt to read Merleau-Ponty's ln Praise of Philosophy as a text in which the French phenomenologist breaks with Sartre and at the sarne time states his view on philosophical engagement and the relation between philosophy and politics. By reading this Lecture as a reply to Sartre l shall argue that there is a connection between this text and the lively debate that in the fifties opposed the two French philosophers on the place of philosophy in the Lebenswelt. In the letters exchanged at the time, first edited by François Ewald and published in 1994, one can find evidence for understanding their different views. In the Lecture Merleau-Ponty never mentions either Sartre's name or his philosophy. However, l shall argue that some of Merleau-Ponty's most important theses are directed against Sartre, namely, when the former claims that there is an opposition between the philosopher and the man of action (or the professional politician). In part one I shall analyse Sartre's letter to Merleau-Ponty claiming that the Lecture is a self-justification of sorts and accusing him of practising the phenomenological εποχή. This accusation by Sartre is evidence of a clear difference between the sartrean concept of "existential engagement" and Merleau-Ponty's own concept of the refusal of choice. In part two, I shall try to show that ln Praise of Philosophy belongs to Merleau-Ponty's inquiries in phenomenology and this fact must be taken into account. The analysis of Merleau-Ponty's letter to Sartre explaining the Lecture clearly shows the relation between the concept of good ambiguity and the concept of engagement. At this point it becomes quite obvious that the dispute between the two philosophers is not over the meaning of engagement but indeed about the meaning of phenomenology and phenomenological εποχή. I shall argue that Merleau-Ponty's ambiguity is mainly a kind of the husserlean εποχή. I shall also claim that one finds a clear echo of Husserl's Vienna Lecture in Merleau-Ponty's ln Praise of Philosophy. Finally, I shall show that both lectures are replies to unmentioned philosophers, in which both refuse to identify philosophy with political engagement or national engagement. For them, the task of philosophy is truth as engagement with humanity.