As the war ended, Merleau-Ponty considered that everything thought to be good and well thought – freedom, powers, citizenship – was in ruin. In 1960, the Preface to Signs seems to replicate this realization, attesting this time to the failure of philosophies of history of which Adventures of the Dialectic sketched the first phase. If the Marxist critique appeared to contribute to political clarity and to consist in an adequate response to a period of crisis, what opportunities remain for philosophy once the rupture with Marxism is finalized? To the pure and simple abandonment of political philosophy suggested by interpreters and by Merleau-Ponty’s text itself in certain instances – “Is it not an incredible misunderstanding that all, or almost all, philosophers have felt obliged to have a politics?” (S, 5) – one must favor the alternative of militant philosophy, first mentioned in 1956 in two textual locations. This alternative is the only outcome possible for a philosophy that has abandoned its rights to the system without resolving itself to silence. It is, from a still-Marxist perspective, the post becoming-world of philosophy. How, then, can we reconcile the appearance of the phrase in 1946 – where it seems reserved to Marxist thought in contrast with the triumphant Hegelian philosophy – with its retention outside of Marxist references, even as Marx has become, according to Merleau-Ponty himself, a writer who should be reflected upon as a classic? For Merleau-Ponty, the failure of systematic theories of history and of traditional figures of engagement (Sartre, Bukharin) reveals the necessity to continuously interrogate his own political experience and the ground of his militancy, inscribed in the flesh of history.

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