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Merleau‐Ponty and the Phenomenological Reduction

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It is commonly believed that Merleau-Ponty rejected Husserl's phenomenological reduction in favour of his existentialist account of être au monde. I show that whilst Merleau-Ponty rejected what he saw as the transcendental idealist context in which Husserl presents the reduction, he nevertheless accepts the heart of it, the epoché, as a methodological principle. Contrary to a number of Merleau-Ponty scholars, être au monde is perfectly compatible with the epoché, and Merleau-Ponty endorses both. I also argue that it is a mistake to think that Merleau-Ponty's liberal use of the results of empirical psychology signifies a rejection of the epoché. A proper understanding of his views on the relation between phenomenology and psychology is that, at least in Merleau-Ponty's eyes, the methods of phenomenology and the empirical sciences are largely similar. I conclude that we have every reason to think that Merleau-Ponty accepted Husserl's demand that the phenomenologist place the world in brackets.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00201740500321227

Affiliations: University of Essex, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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