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Mamardashvili, Merab Konstantinovich (1930–90)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-E028-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 25, 2024, from

Article Summary

Merab Mamardashvili was one of the Soviet Union’s most influential thinkers in the fields of phenomenology and philosophy of consciousness. Although he preferred the Socratic genres of the dialogue, interview and philosophical meditation to the abstract rigours of more systematic philosophy, he left substantial published work on Descartes, Hegel, Kant and French literature (especially Proust).

Mamardashvili began his career as a historian of philosophy, with a series of close readings of Karl Marx. By the 1970s he had evolved his own distinctive style of ‘philosophizing out loud’, addressing the foundations of European philosophy based on Descartes and Kant, at the core of which was the search for the ‘free phenomenon’ (svobodnyi fenomen) or the ‘event of a thought’ (sobytie mysli). In Kantian fashion, Mamardashvili attended to those a priori conditions of lived experience which govern that moment when reality enters the transcendental realm – but he switched the emphasis: rather than the mental problems presented by the a priori moment, Mamardashvili concentrated on what he called a ‘metaphysics of the a posteriori’, that is, on the actual event, or advent, of a thought. Perhaps the single motivating question of his life was: ‘How is a new thought possible?’ Among his many answers, developed in public lectures and interviews during the last twenty years of his life, was the notion that the very processes of thought provoke ‘hearing a thought’ in another. From this follows his concern with dialogic forms and his interest in the Cartesian dualism of soul and body – not as a necessary truth but as a ‘productive tautology’ that makes internal reason and a ‘grammatical’ analysis of thinking possible on a palpable basis.

Citing this article:
Emerson, Caryl. Mamardashvili, Merab Konstantinovich (1930–90), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-E028-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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