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DAVIS, Duane H.. The Philosopher of Modern Life: Baudelaire, Merleau-Ponty, and the Art of Phenomenological Critique. Nat. hum. [online]. 2009, vol.11, n.2, pp.153-180. ISSN 1517-2430.

I compare poet Charles Baudelaire and philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty as social critics of modernity from within modern society. I explore Baudelaire’s unacknowledged influence upon Merleau-Ponty as a means of re-reading Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology. I examine Baudelaire’s poetry as well as his essay, The Painter of Modern Life. Though the essay claims to be an analysis of the significance of the painter C. Guys, I argue that it can be read as autobiographical - revealing a sense of the poet as social critic of modernity. Likewise, Merleau-Ponty’s accounts of artists reveal a great deal about his own view of the role of the philosopher as social critic. One can read Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology as an art rather than as a science of sciences. Finally, I explore the political implications of this aesthetic-based phenomenology. I argue that there is an historical depth revealed by this phenomenological art of political judgment that would be neglected by any political science.

Keywords : Charles Baudelaire; Maurice Merleau-Ponty; Depth; Reversibility; Écart; Correspondences; Social critique; Art.

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