The Primary Silence of the Past and the Weakness of Philosophy

Keith L. Whitmoyer
2014 PhaenEx: Journal of Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture  
In light of more contemporary interest in the concept of an immemorial past, this essay takes up the manner in which this idea figures in Merleau-Ponty's works by turning to the famous reference to "a past that has never been present" in Phenomenology of Perception. In order to contextualize and think through what Merleau-Ponty means, I turn to a reference in the same text to "primary silence." Merleau-Ponty's concern is to disclose the differential between the concatenation of sensibility and
more » ... of sensibility and expression and what remains beyond the bounds of the sensible. The task of phenomenology, accordingly, is the disclosure of this primary silence, this primary non-sense. Finally, articulating that this differential never ceased to be a concern for Merleau-Ponty, and, turning to texts from the 1950s as well as to The Visible and the Invisible, we see the development of Merleau-Ponty's thought as the consistent effort to think through this question.
doi:10.22329/p.v9i1.4064 fatcat:ideamtwixfbnhpynij6fiyvt44