Merleau-Ponty and the Question of Phenomenological Architectonics

  • Marc Richir
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 129)


It is in his well-known study published in the Kantstudien in 1933, and approved as we know by Husserl,’ that Fink conceives of phenomenological reduction in such a way that “the idea of being” must itself be “reduced” in order to allow the concept of “transcendental being” (p. 158) to emerge. The result, according to Fink, must be a transformation of the eidetic, as naïve ontologizing of the pre-givenness of the world, into transcendental eidetics. On the difficult question of the relation between eidetic reduction and phenomenological reduction, Fink even states very precisely: “It is a fundamental error to strive to comprehend the nature of the (scil. phenomenological) reduction by starting from the still obscure eidetics or, inversely, to question the nature of the transcendental eidos as a problem born out of the accomplishment of the reduction” (p. 159). For, as he specifies a little further, “the attitude of knowledge with regard to eidetic states-of-things… and the philosophical understanding of the aprioristic form of the world are dogmatic” (p. 172). This attitude is based, by “eidetic fixation of essences” (p. 171), on natural worldly experience as athematic pre-knowledge of the essences of the pre-givenness of the world (p. 171). At least this leads phenomenology to question, by reduction, “in a constitutive manner, not only the experience, transcendentally reduced, of a singular ‘being’ (l’étant), 2 but also the knowledge of essence which belongs essentially to man, thereby making the aprioristic style of the world the theme of a constitutive analysis” (p. 171). Otherwise stated, this leads phenomenology to consider the transcendental constitution of the eidos,and to cast upon the eidetic the kind of critical look which can free phenomenology from appearance or from the transcendental illusion in which phenomena would finally intermingle and disappear along with the eidetic states-of-things.


Transcendental Phenomenology Phenomenological Reduction Impartial Spectator Pure Possibility Constitutive Analysis 
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  1. 1.
    E. Fink, “La philosophie phénoménologique d’Edmund Husserl face à la critique contemporaine”, Fr. tr. by D. Franck in E. Fink, De la phénoménologie, Minuit, Coll. “Arguments”, Paris, 1974, pp. 95–175.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    E. Fink, V!. Cartesianische Meditation, Teil I, Die Idee einer transzendentalen Methodenlehre, hrsg. von H. Ebeling. J. Holl und G. Van Kerckhoven, Kluwer Acad. Publ., Husserliana Dokumente, II, 1, Dordrecht, 1988. We will quote with the acronym VITH CM followed by the page number.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    See the study by G. Van Kerckhoven, “Consensus, dissension, construction”, and our own, “La question d’une doctrine transcendantale de la méthode en phénoménologie”, in Epokhè, No. 1, Le statut du phénoménologique, Jérôme Millon, Grenoble, 1990, pp. 45–89 and pp. 91–125.Google Scholar
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    M. Merleau-Ponty, Phénoménologie de la perception, Gallimard, Paris, 1945, pp. IX—XII. We will come back to this work and quote with the acronym PP followed by the page number. (In English: Phenomenology of Perception, trans. Colin Smith (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962), hereafter cited as PhP.)Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Translator’s note: We retain the author’s distinction between “existential” and the related substantive “existentiaux”, which refer to existence’s modes of being or categories, and, on the other hand “existentiel”, which concerns existence’s qualitative features.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    See our study: “Possibilité et nécessité de la phénoménologie asubjective”, in Jan Patocka, Philosophie, phénoménologie, politique, Jérôme Millon, Coll. “Krisis”, Grenoble, 1992, pp. 101–120.Google Scholar
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    M. Merleau-Ponty, Le Visible et l’invisible, text established by Cl. Lefort, Gallimard, Paris, 1964, p. 147. We will quote henceforth with the acronym VI followed by the page number. (In English: The Visible and the Invisible, trans. A. Lingis (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968), hereafter cited as VI.)Google Scholar
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    See D. Montet’s work, Les traits de l’être. Essai sur l’ontologie platonicienne, Jérôme Millon, Coll. “Krisis”, Grenoble, 1990.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    See our work: Phénomènes, temps et êtres, Jérôme Millon, Coll. “Krisis”, Grenoble, 1987.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    See our work: “Communauté, société et histoire chez le dernier Merleau-Ponty”, in Merleau-Ponty, phénoménologie et expériences, Jérôme Millon, Coll. “Krisis”, Grenoble, 1992, pp. 7–25.Google Scholar
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    See Phénomènes, temps et êtres, op. cit.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    See our works: Phénoménologie et institution symbolique, and La crise du sens et la phénoménologie, Jérôme Millon, Coll. “Krisis”, Grenoble, 1988 and 1990.Google Scholar
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    Résumés de cours, Collège de France, 1952–1960, Gallimard, Paris, 1968, p. 180.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

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  • Marc Richir

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