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Merleau-Ponty's Political Thought


Admission requirements

  • BA students in Philosophy: propedeuse degree has been obtained.

  • BA students from other departments (including contractstudenten): propedeuse degree has been obtained, and additionally the following philosophy courses is/are required: Philosophy of Culture, Political Philosophy.


The course will follow the evolution of Merleau-Ponty’s political thinking from his early work of the late forties to 1959’s Signs. It will pay particular attention to the systematic unity between his theoretical thought and his political thought, Merleau-Ponty’s relations to Marxism, and his efforts to create a positive notion of political moderation.

Course objectives

This course aim to provide the students with a clear view of:

  • the trajectory of Merleau-Ponty’s political thought;

  • the context within which Merleau-Ponty’s political views arose;

  • the relations between Merleau-ponty’s theoretical philosophy and his political philosophy;

  • the relevance of Merleau-Ponty’s political thought for current debates.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the legacy of post-Marxism for current political thinking;

  • the relations between phenomenology and political philosophy;

  • some important aspects of the relations between ethcis and philosophy.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • critically understand and interconnect Merleau-Ponty’s major political texts with each other and with those of Marx, Lukacs, Koestler, Lefort, Foucault and others;

  • present a consistent view of the problems that motivated Merleau-Ponty’s political thinking.


The timetable is available on the BA Wijsbegeerte website
BA Wijsbegeerte 2016-2017 (BA Plus-traject of Standaardtraject), derde jaar.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Attending lectures and seminars (14 weeks x 3 hrs): 42 hours

  • Preparation for lectures/seminars: 40 hours

  • Study of literature: 80 hours

  • Assignment: 38 hours

  • Preparation of presentation: 20 hours

  • Preparation assignments: 60 hours

Assessment method

  • Oral reading report on a primary text and abstract (30%)

  • Take-home paper on a question agreed in advance based on abstract submitted (65%)

  • Abstract for final paper (5%)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests. A subtest can be graded as unsatisfactory.


The resit consists of one examination for all parts at once. No separate resits will be offered for mid-term tests. The resit will be a thoroughly demanding survey take-home exam covering the entirety of the course materials, and including a text commentary, a series of short questions and an argumentative essay. The mark will replace all previously earned marks for subtests.

Satisfactory completion of practical assignments (presentation,abstract) is a prerequisite for taking the resit.


Blackboard will be used for posting texts, general information documents (syllabus etc), assignments and updates.

Reading list

We will conduct the course in English, using Engish translations of Merleau-Ponty’s texts. The students are invited to acquaint themselves with the French whenever possible.

Merleau-Ponty’s texts:

  • Sense and Nonsense

  • Humanism and Terror

  • Adventures of the Dialectic

  • Signs

Secondary texts:

  • Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon

  • Gyorgy Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness


Enrolment for courses and exams through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for and exams in the column under the heading “uSis-Actnbr”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. F. Chouraqui


Not applicable.