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By William S. Hamrick

The following pages try to enhance the most outlines of an existential phenomenology of legislation in the context of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's phe­ nomenology of the social international. In so doing, the essay addresses the really slim scholarly query, If Merleau-Ponty had written a phenomenology of legislation, what wouldn't it have appeared like? yet this scholarly firm, even if impeccable in itself, is additionally transcended via a extra advanced challenge for a truly varied type of query. specifically, if Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological descriptions of the social international are correct-as i think they mostly are-then what are the philosophical outcomes for an enough knowing of legislations? this sort of venture might get together a undeniable shock among observers of the modern philosophical panorama, at the least in what issues the terrain of continental concept, and for 2 diverse purposes. the 1st is that, even supposing curiosity in Merleau-Ponty's paintings continues to be robust within the· usa and will­ ada, his philosophical status in his personal nation has been mostly eclipsed! by way of that of, first, his friend/estranged acquaintance, Jean-Paul Sartre; through a variety of Marxist philosophies and significant social theories; and eventually by way of these doing her­ meneutics of language. in my opinion, present forget of Merleau-Ponty's inspiration in France is so much regrettable.

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Extra info for An Existential Phenomenology of Law: Maurice Merleau-Ponty

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What, then, went wrong? Effectively, Merleau-Ponty was trying to hold together two incompatible positions, and The Prose of the World was shelved when the futility of such a project finally became inescapable. One of these positions was, as described above, a phenomenology of language as expression and communication in the life-world, and the other consisted of a structuralism which focussed on language as a tool of knowledge, as a set of logical a prioris imbedded in a depth grammar, to use Noam Chomsky's well known phrase, which binds all empirical languages.

It is an example in the social world of what Gestalt psychologists abundantly illustrated in terms of perception, namely, that it is organized so as to achieve and maintain an equilibrium with one's environment. In the cultural world we attempt to establish and maintain an equilibrium with others in and through such social relationships as customs, habits, mores, conventions-as well as through social institutions such as law. In the same way, Merleau-Ponty thinks that Marcel Mauss' researches pointed toward the conclusion-not formally drawn by him-that mana is "precisely evidence for the individual of certain relationships of equivalence between what he gives, receives, and returns, the experience of a certain distance between himself and his state of equlibrium with others, the first fact of a doubl~ reference of conduct to oneself and to the other, the demand of an invisible totality of which he himself and the other are in their eyes substitutable elements" (S 145-46).

21. 22. 23. 39 whether it is a question of guilt cultures, like those of the West, or of shame cultures, like those of the East-and also of the original Americans. See William S. Hamrick, "Redeeming the Earth: Tragic Wisdom and the Plains Indians," Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, Vol. XVI, Number 1, January 1985, pp. 36-54. " There is perhaps no better example of this danger, and of the moral dilemmas it poses, than the play, Pack of Lies. ) of freedom-loving, democratic societies.

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