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Writing, incarnation, deferral. Merleau-Ponty and Derrida on The Origin of Geometry

Author(s): Emmanuel Alloa

Journal: DoisPontos
ISSN 1807-3883

Volume: 9;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2012;

Keywords: Ideality. History. Medium. Writing. Origin. Difference.

The intellectual history of the 20th century has been written along a scenario which sees in Merleau-Ponty’s death in 1961 the partition line between an existential and phenomenological generation and the immediately subsequent event of structuralism. The publication of Merleau-Pontys lecture notes on Edmund Husserl’s Origin of geometry has shown how shaky the grounds of such a simplifying reading are. Indeed, while Derrida’s translation of and introduction to Husserl’s text from 1962 became a founding text for the structuralist generation, introducing a reflection about the historicity and the materiality of ideality, it was only in 1998, with the publication of Merleau-Ponty’s notes from the Collège de France lecture in 1959 on the same topic, that it became clear how close the early Derrida is to the late Merleau-Ponty. Just as Derrida, Merleau-Ponty had identified in Husserl’s tension between archaeology and teleology the basic problem of phenomenology, introducing the question of history and that of media of cultural transmission. Comparing both readings in their specific context not only brings about a more complex picture of the intellectual debates of the time, but also shows how, with Merleau-Ponty’s interpretation of the Origin of geometry, Derrida’s “différance” predates itself and receives another genealogy.

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