My article examines the role played by the phenomenon of silence both in Merleau- Ponty’s thinking and in Lyotard’s. I show thereby the continuity between the two philosophers in spite of the distance taken by Lyotard towards the phenomenological tradition. The aim of phenomenology to express the pure sense of silent experience is in fact taken up in a peculiar way by Lyotard as the action of desire and can well be used as a key to understand the unity of his thinking. The comparison between Merleau-Ponty and Lyotard also shows that silence is a central topic in order to understand the political dimension of works of art, not as participants in political struggles, but as tools made for the empowerment of our capacity to perceive.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty“Eye and Mind” in The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader: Philosophy and Paintinged. Galen A. Johnson trans. M.B. Smith (Evanston: Northwestern University Press1993) 146; cited hereafter em.