merleau-ponty on children and childhood


  • brock a. bahler Duquesne University


Merleau-Ponty, childhood, psychology, parent-child relation


Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908–1961) not only published in the fields of phenomenology, aesthetics, politics, and linguistics, but he also lectured as professor of child psychology, which resulted in several texts specifically devoted to the child. Most notably are the works “The Child’s Relations to Others,” Consciousness and the Acquisition of Language, and Child Psychology and Pedagogy: The Sorbonne Lectures, 1949–1952. And yet the question of the child occurs throughout his entire corpus. Thus, it is quite difficult to limit Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of childhood to one given text or theme. Merleau-Ponty is adamant, however, that his work in psychology and philosophy should not be viewed as separate projects. Rather, he repeatedly stresses an intertwining of philosophy and psychology, self and other, theory and praxis, and (like Freud) the lasting influence of childhood on adult life. In this vein, the following texts, both from his “philosophical” and “psychological” works, provide a sense of the significance the child plays in Merleau-Ponty’s overarching project, particularly in his account of intersubjectivity and the parent-child relation.




How to Cite

bahler, brock a. (2015). merleau-ponty on children and childhood. Childhood & Philosophy, 11(22), 203–221. Retrieved from