The starting point of this essay is an article of Enzo Paci, “Prospettive relazionistiche” published in Dall’esistenzialismo al relazionismo, in which the author interprets Merleau-Ponty’s project in the light of a quotation from Saint Exupery: “Man is a knot of relations, and relations alone count for man”. The problem of relations plays, in fact, a central role in all of Merleau-Ponty’s work; hence the principal objective of this essay: to reflect on the originary value of relations in the constitution of the human subject. As Merleau-Ponty himself suggests in his early reflection on affective life, everything in the human being is manifested under the form of the desire of life understood as relation. It is the affective dynamic of desire that provokes reason and configures a manner of being that, through the discovery of alterity, surpasses natural determinisms in opening us to the experience of freedom, sacrifice and love. It is by building on this originary relational constitution of existence that we re-read Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, in particular the problem of the self as relation. This makes possible a renewed approach to the human sciences with the goal of thinking our relations with others.

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