Philosophy of history
How are we to make sense of history? This is a pivotal question for Merleau-Ponty, and one that he poses at several different, though interwoven, levels. These levels include our personal and our intersubjective lives and the more general level of what he calls “public history” (TL: 39-45). At the former levels he raises questions concerning how individually situated and intersubjective selves are instantiated, shaped, and shape themselves in time. At the latter level, that of “public history”, he asks how we are to make sense of largescale historical processes – the temporal transformations of societies and states, the transitions between large-scale epochs, and whether or not we may discern a clear directionality, or even progress, in human societies. Although these levels are, for Merleau-Ponty, interconnected, it is his exploration of history at the large-scale “public” level that is the primary topic of this chapter.