THE EXISTENTIAL DIALECTIC OF MARX AND MERLEAU-PONTY (KARL MARX, MAURICE MERLEAU-PONTY)
Our dissertation is a search for a method. It is a search that leads us away from the remnants of Cartesianism that are found in Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason and toward a comparative study of Karl Marx and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. We argue, in fact, that both Marx and Merleau-Ponty operate with a method that may be called an existential dialectic. By means of a careful and extended analysis of The Structure of Behavior we attempt to uncover Merleau-Ponty's method, calling special attention to its existential and dialectical character. We then proceed to argue that Marx is operating with a type of phenomenological/existential method, and this is true not only of the young Marx but also of the mature Marx of the Grundrisse and Capital. Finally, with the assistance of Lukacs' History and Class Consciousness, we will point up the dialectical character of Marx's method. Thus, it is by uncovering this approach in the text of each of these thinkers and by comparing the method of each man with that of the other that we will show that both Marx and Merleau-Ponty operate with an existential dialectical method. The existential dialectic is also compared and contrasted to philosophy's two main-stream epistemologies, empiricism and rationalism. However, since the empirical method now enjoys such a widespread discipleship, we are especially concerned with displaying its shortcomings and demonstrating the superiority of the existential dialectical method.