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141. Chiasmi International: Volume > 13
Guillaume Carron De L’Expérience À L’ « Événement »: Les enjeux de la pensée d’un « symbolisme originaire »
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From Experience to the “Event”The Stakes of the Thought of an “Originary Symbolism”This article proposes to understand the progressive conceptualization of experience as “originary symbolism.” After having examined the notions of form but also – and above all – those of categorical attitude and expression, we show that Merleau-Ponty turns toward a concept of experience that is from the start expressive. Here, the symbolic function, in Cassirer’s sense, is slowly replaced by a “symbolism” in which the diacritical, institution, and the unconscious play a fundamental role. Making use of Merleau-Ponty’s unpublished notes, particularly those in the Sensible World and the World of Expression, allows us to observe the convergence of diacritical thought, institution, and the unconscious toward one unified conception of originary symbolism. Hence, we propose an approach that departs from the traditional categories of consciousness and of evidence, and founds a theory of experience as “event”.Dall’esperienza all’ «evento»La posta in gioco del «simbolismo originario»L’articolo si propone di comprendere la progressiva concettualizzazione merleaupontyana dell’esistenza come «simbolismo originario». Dopo aver esaminato le nozioni di forma, ma anche e soprattutto di atteggiamento categoriale e di espressione, mostreremo che Maurice Merleau-Ponty si indirizza a una concezione dell’esperienza che ne fa qualcosa di immediatamente espressivo; concezione in cui la funzione simbolica, nel senso di Cassirer, viene poco a poco sostituita da un «simbolismo» in cui il diacritico, l’istituzione e l’inconscio giocano un ruolo fondamentale. Il ricorso alle Note inedite di Merleau-Ponty, e in particolare a Le monde sensible et le monde de l’expression, consente appunto di osservare la convergenza dei tre concetti di diacritico, di istituzione e di inconscio, in direzione di una medesima concezione del simbolismo originario. Proponiamo quindi un approccio che si discosta dalle tradizionali categorie della coscienza e dell’evidenza, per fondare una teoria dell’esperienza come «evento».
142. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Marco Spina La rencontre avec autrui. Distance, regard et silence dans la pensée de Maurice Merleau-Ponty
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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.
143. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Renaud Barbaras L’autonomie de l’apparaître
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The goal of this essay is first to emphasize the proximity of the approaches of these two philosophers starting from their common critique of Husserlian subjectivism. By basing the phenomenality of the world on a sphere of immanence constituted by lived experience, Husserl accounts for appearing [l’apparaître] starting from a certain appearing [apparaissant] and thus falls into a form of circularity, the same one that is at work when the natural attitude makes appearing rest on an objective appearing. The aim of these two authors is then to overcome this deeper and more secret version of the natural attitude by freeing the transcendence of the world from every form of objectivity and freeing the existence of the subject from every form of immanence. It is on this sole condition that the autonomy of the phenomenal field can be guaranteed. However, the dynamic approach to the subject in Patočka, which itself leads to a determination of the world as becoming, allows him to account for the chiasm that Merleau-Ponty put forward at the end of his life without managing to ground it, since he held to an insufficient characterization of existence in terms of flesh.
144. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
David M. Peña-Guzmán Pathetic Normativity: Canguilhem and Merleau-Ponty’s Philosophy of Norms
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Inspired by the genetic phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and the historical epistemology of Georges Canguilhem, this paper defends a theory of normativity grounded in pathos rather than logos. Proceeding from the double assumption that (a) accounts of the origins of normativity circulated in antiquity (Aristotle) and modernity (Kant) are unsatisfactory, and (b) the determinacy of norms remains a central problem not only for moral theory but also for epistemology, political theory, and even medicine, the author contends that the realm of lived experience (especially the experience of suffering) can help us furnish determinate though often pre-thetic norms that can underwrite or justify “non-moral normative distinctions,” such as the distinction between the just and the unjust in political theory and (especially) the distinction between the normal and the pathological in medicine. With the aid of comparative and hermeneutic analysis, the author establishes that Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception shares with Canguilhem’s The Normal and the Pathological a similar understanding of the norming (i.e., generative of norms) and normative (i.e., subject to norms) character of subjective experience and, moreover, that in these works one can find a “pathic” (or “pathetic,” from the Greek pathos) theory of norms that can give us, as the author puts it, “a new foundation for the very possibility of critique” in our post-Enlightenment moment.
145. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Pierre Rodrigo Après la phénoménologie? Ontologie de la chair et métaphysique du mouvement chez Merleau-Ponty et Patočka
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Patočka discusses «the disaster of the rejection of metaphysics» by Heidegger. In this critique, he has claimed that «Merleau-Ponty, Ricoeur, Waehlens and others» could neither be satisfied with the Heideggerian closure of the ontological sphere onto itself nor be content with Husserlian transcendentalism. In fact, there is a convergence between Patočka and Merleau-Ponty on this point, as demonstrated by a note from The Visible and the Invisible in which Merleau-Ponty affirms “I am for metaphysics” ...We show that these two thinkers have seen that phenomenology always faces, by eidetic necessity, what remains essentially irreducible for it: being. One thing toremember with Patočka, however, is that «we must not forget that the phenomenon is precisely phenomenon of being» even if «the structure of the appearing is entirely independent of the structure of beings.» But another thing is to thematize the relation between the appearing of the phenomenon and the manifestation of being. This implies that “after” phenomenological description a new type of correlation is analyzed.
146. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Tano Posteraro Painting as Stylized Vision: the Movement of Invisibility in “Eye and Mindˮ
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This paper explores Merleau-Ponty’s mature philosophy of painting as it emerges out of his essay, “Eye and Mind.” It does so by briefly outlining the ontology implicit in this discussion of the phenomenology of painting, an ontology that finds a more explicit expression in a consideration of other works by Merleau-Ponty, namely, The Visible and the Invisible and Phenomenology of Perception. This is an ontology of style, perspective, becoming. Having briefly sketched this image of the world, the paper moves to a study of the phenomenological significance of Picasso’s famous Dora Maar au Chat. This is the primary aim of this paper: the staging of an encounter between Merleau-Ponty, the phenomenologist, and Pablo Picasso, the painter. We will find in this encounter the claim that it is by means of the painter’s style that he brings his world to life. In seeing the painting, we see along with it: we see the painter’s own way of seeing the world. In seeing the painting we are literally seeing seeing. But we do so by means of our own stylized perspectives, for vision, in Merleau-Ponty’s eyes, is itself already stylized. This is a pan-stylicism: an endless interplay of stylistic becomings the locus of which is the painting itself. As the emblem of this interplay, the painting is capable of disrupting profane vision, of awakening vision to the bottomless plenitude of being, and transforming it thereby.
147. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Christiane Bailey Le partage du monde: Husserl et la constitution des animaux comme « autres moi »
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While phenomenologists claim to have overcome solipsism, most have not pushed beyond the boundaries of individual human intersubjectivity to that of individuals of other species. Yet Husserl recognizes the existence of an interspecific intersubjectivity, an intersubjectivity beyond the limits of the species. He even goes so far as to say that we sometimes understand a companion animal better than a foreign human. However, even if he admits that many animals are capable of a life of subjective consciousness and live in a world of shared meaning, he does not consider them to be “persons” according to his strict conception that associates personhood with rationality, maturity, normality and historicity. Being a “person” in its most primordial sense – and its most decisive as the basis for political, legal and ethical conceptions – simply means being the subject of a surrounding world, of a common world and a biographical existence. Distinguishing two meanings of the concept of person allows us to recognize that animals share transcendentality; they are not simply alive but have a life that is both biographical and communal, even if they are not able to reflect on their own conscious life in order to consider their place in the chain of generations and to adopt what Husserl calls a “vocation”. The Husserlian phenomenology of anomalies allows us to recognize that animals truly come under the figure of the other, that they are alter ego subjects of a conscious life, and as such they participate fully, just as do children, the insane, and foreigners, in the co-constitution of the spiritual world.
148. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Annabelle Dufourcq La philosophie politique de Merleau-Ponty au-delà du concept de crise. L’engagement entre vertige chronique et action symbolique
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This article shows that Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy is traversed by a tension between an interpretation of history and existence in terms of crisis and the recognition of an insurmountable vertigo, the Heraclitean model of an eternal return of the singular and the partial, without possible synthesis. Our thesis is that the model of the crisis is marked by a classical positivism which makes it the secret ally of a conservative and anti-democratic politics. It is also an impasse in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy since it supposes a reference to an overlooking point of view that the whole of Merleau-Pontian reflection has shown to be impossible. The phenomenology of perception and ontology of the perceived world show that we have access only to a mystified consciousness and that even the world itself is undecided. The Heraclitean path must win against the interpretation in terms of crisis, but the persistence of the second path in Merleau-Ponty’swork is also explained by the extremely difficult character of the first path. The theory of chronic vertigo takes us closer to nihilism, and this is an aspect of Merleau-Pontian philosophy whose radical and highly problematic – perhaps even aporetic – character must not be underestimated. How to decide on practice and politics without absolute reference, without being able to guarantee anything? The use Merleau-Ponty makes of crucial references to Machiavelli and Marx at the heart of his political philosophy is very revealing this regard: in the first movement, this is a matter of “disarming” these philosophies, making them instruments for the disruption of action. But Merleau-Ponty’s final goal is not to return to the philosophy of contemplation, abstract ontology, but to build a new practical model: that of symbolic action, which integrates vertigo rather than surpassing it and constitutes a praxis inseparable from the enterprise of knowledge and artistic creation. We could say that it is saved by its openness to sense, but this means that it cannot rely on any positive established meaning and must find its wellspring in a ‘wild’ ability to be unceasingly decentered, to take nothing for granted, to approach our values and beliefs as foreign. This raises the question of the possibilityof the incarnation of such a model in an effective political institution.
149. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Ted Toadvine Le temps des voix animales
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Phenomenology’s attention to the theme of animality has focused not on animal life in general but rather on the animal dimension of the human and its contested relation with humanity as such. Phenomenology thereby reproduces Agamben’s “anthropological machine” by which humanity is constructed through the “inclusive exclusion” of its animality. The alternative to this “inclusive exclusion” is not, however, a return to kinship or commonality but rather an intensification of the constitutive paradox of our own inner animality, understood in terms of the anonymous, corporeal subject of perception that lives a different temporality than that of first-person consciousness. This provides us with an entirely different context for encounter with non-human others, insofar as they speak through our own voices and gaze out through our own eyes. This position is developed through a reading, first, of the proximity of Merleau-Ponty’s early work with that of Max Scheler, who paradigmatically reduces human animality to bare life. Merleau-Ponty differentiates himself from Scheler by emphasizing, in The Structure of Behavior, that life cannot be integrated into spirit without remainder. Merleau-Ponty’s later work thinks this remainder as the ineliminable gap and delay inthe auto-affection of the body and as a chiasmic exchange that anticipates Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of “becoming animal.” This remainder of life within consciousness is the immemorial past of one’s own animality. It follows that our “inner animality” is neither singular nor plural but a kind of pack that speaks through the voice that I take to be mine. Furthermore, in the exchange of looks between myself and a non-human other, the crossing of glances occurs at an animal level that withdraws from my own reflective consciousness.
150. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Peter Warnek The Experience of Freedom at the Limits of Reflection in Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology
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The paper revisits the discussion of freedom in the Phenomenology of Perception and considers how according to Merleau-Ponty a phenomenology of freedom must challenge the tradition that attempts to account for experience and appearance through the filter of reflective consciousness. The paper begins by posing this problem in broad historical terms, as a distinctly modern predicament, and briefly considers Schelling’s philosophical engagement with negative philosophy as a provocation and historical precedent for reading the phenomenological work of Merleau-Ponty. It is noted that Schelling’s criticism of the formal freedom of Kant prefi gures Merleau-Ponty’s polemic against Sartrean freedom, although the claim is also made that Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological account of freedom remains irreducible to the terms established by this polemic, since what appears is a freedom no longer determined by consciousness and reflection. Before turning to the reading of the Phenomenology of Perception, a single passage is also adduced from The Visible and Invisible in order to demonstrate how the concern elaborated in the Phenomenology runs throughout Merleau-Ponty’s work, namely, that a phenomenological interrogation of experience must break down the boundaries of what is properly one’s own as this would be defined in and by the reflective act. The reading of the Phenomenology then proceeds by showing how the entire work is framed by the possibility of transforming philosophical practice through an overturning of the dominant paradigm of reflection. The paper interrogates in this light the Preface, the chapter on Descartes’ cogito and the concluding chapter on freedom. A connection is drawn between the appearance of the “tacit” cogito and the elaboration of freedom that ends by insisting upon the necessity of silence.
151. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Don Beith Merleau-Ponty and the Institution of Animate Form: The Generative Origins of Animal Perception and Movement
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From his earliest work in The Structure of Behavior, Maurice Merleau-Ponty abrogates accounts of organic form that posit the organism as either passively ordered by the environment which precedes it, or as actively constituting its environment. I argue that Merleau-Ponty first develops what I term a genetic concept of form, in which the organism-environment relationship unfolds developmentally. This account of genetic form, however, requires a further concept of generative form to overcome the conceptual distinction between constituting activity and constituted passivity. I contend that rather than pre-existing its own development ideally, in a genetic or developmental blueprint, or environmentally, in given causes, that instead form emerges expressively and dynamically. To develop the concept of generative form I turn to Merleau-Ponty’s lecture courses Institution and Nature, while drawing from examples in animal motorperceptual development and inter-bodily communication. In doing so, I contend that this idea of generativity requires for us to think of organisms as passive, though not as passively constituted by a nature in-itself, but rather as passively instituted by a natural sense that orients the possibilities of organic development without itself existing asan already realized form of life. I argue that the notion of generative form offers an approach to thinking of species differences not as essential differences in kind, but as elaborations of a natural generativity that precedes and grounds individual animate forms.
152. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Elena Tavani Il mondo e la sua ombra: estetica e ontologia in Hannah Arendt e Merleau-Ponty
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Starting from a specific critique of the traditional «metaphysical mistake» (i.e., the distinction between being and appearing), Hannah Arendt comes to supporta “phenomenalism” that is not only radical but also spectacular in the sense that it enhances, not appearances that would replace an unknown being or substance, but an appearing as a unique exhibition on the world stage in view of an opinion to communicate or an action to perform. Along this path, an encounter with Merleau-Ponty’s thought can occur at several levels. Specifically, the thesis of the ‘spectacular’ character of the world is presented in Arendt’s political theory as intimately linked to the thesis of an aesthetic and, at the same time, ontological basis of experience, which relates her thought to the Merleau-Pontian theory of vision as “thought conditioned” by the world and “which advents” as “instituted” in a body that is properly its own (Eye and Mind). For Arendt, thought is not only invisible (“not manifest even when it is actualized,” The Life of the Mind), it is also ontologically visible as “doxa” in which it is divided into “aspects of world” that are revealed in a “specular” fashion as positions to take and show “outside,” to present and defend. This is a valuable asset in the context of political “advertising.”
153. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Karel Novotný Liberté et incarnation. Esquisse des conditions de l’existence humaine selon Jan Patočka
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The idea of radical, historical freedom which Patočka, beginning in the 1930s, thought of as a movement of transcendence, cannot be comprehended without taking embodiment – the human being’s corporeal and intercorporeal anchorage in the world – into account. This said, we consider the pertinence and permanence, for both human freedom and corporality, of a moment – to all appearances marginal – that constitutes in reality more of a limit for each of these elements (including the motif of movement itself) and, as a result, allows a link to be posited between them. This moment is the confrontation of the living, embodied soul with the cold and hostile side of the world, with the otherness which is alien to life, with the periphery of nature that is bereft of sense for life and constitutes its ultimate limit. The undermining of sense that can happen in such confrontations gives rise to a vertigo deriving from the extreme form of freedom enacted in them. This makes it possible to explain the rupture between spirit and life, a certain dualism opposing life and spirit, that prompts the question: Is thisdualism not specific to European humanity as constructed and called for by Patočka?
154. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Nicolas Dittmar Simondon et Deleuze: l’intensité de l’être
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Simondon and Deleuze are the philosophers of intensity: thinking the intensity of being rather than its formal a priori is for them the path to the “true transcendental.” The true transcendental, according to these two post-Kantian philosophers, would be the conditions of real experience, which are not dictated by a reason anticipating the relation to phenomena, but by individuation. This reversal priviledges the process of openness to difference as a production of the unexpected for knowledge. To be individuated, for Simondon as for Deleuze, is to learn to overcome a certain logic of representation, based on the principle of identity, by giving precedence to singularities: the individual is not only a thinking substance cutting up the world according to its categories, but also an active nature facing the unknown. But one might ask how the individual can be identified and develop if it is constituted, at its expense, from intensive relations and experiences that it cannot synthesize in the understanding. Does individuation ultimately make sense? Simondon and Deleuze agree that consciousness is nothing without a synthesis of unification: this possibility for consciousness of unifi ng the diversity of experience, of maintaining a unity in plurality, refers to the preindividual, which defines in Simondon a field of ontological freedom, that is, of multiple individuations enriching the Self. For Deleuze, in his careful reading of Simondon, it is the place of the emission of singularities in the process of intensive individuation. In both cases, it is a question of defining a new form of subjectivity, closer to the realities of experience, of what we might call the transductive forms of sensibility.
155. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Simone Gustafsson “The Animal is like a Quiet Force”: Emergence and Negativity in Agamben and Merleau-Ponty
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The concept of natural, common life is distinguished from life as political existence in the opening lines of Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer – a schism within ‘life’ that has profound consequences for Agamben’s political theory and ontology. Agamben claims that bare life now “dwells in the biological body of every living being” (HS 140). As such, it is necessary to ascertain what the ‘life’ of biopolitics is – the life capable of politicization. The notion of natural living being is central to Agamben’s account, and yet it remains an ambiguous and indeterminate concept. This conceptual ambiguity is informed by Agamben’s account of anthropogenesis and the relation between the ‘human’ and the realm of animality, to which the concept of negativity is pivotal. Negativity is also central to Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy. However, for Merleau-Ponty the ontology of Nature and man constitute “the leaves of one sole Being” (N 220). Animality and human being are emergent; Merleau-Ponty adamantly maintains, “there is no rupture” (N 272). This paper analyzes the notion of negativity in Agamben and Merleau-Ponty’s accounts of Being and life, and contends that Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy gives rise to an ontology that offers a more open and productive account of animality and nature. In Agamben’s account, negativity is constitutive of man, which gives rise to an irreducible disjuncture between Being and life. For Merleau-Ponty, negativity is ‘in’ Being. There is no tension between Being and ‘life’: Nature is “a leaf or layer of total Being,” and we must conceive of “the ontology of Nature as the way toward ontology” (N 204).
156. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Jakub Čapek, Ondřej Švec Introduction
157. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Anna Petronella Foultier Merleau-Ponty’s Encounter with Saussure’s Linguistics: Misreading, Reinterpretation or Prolongation?
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The prevailing judgement concerning Merleau-Ponty’s encounter with Saussure’s linguistics is that, although important for the evolution of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of language, it was based on a mistaken or at least highly idiosyncratic interpretation of Saussure’s ideas. Significantly, the rendering of Saussure that has been common both in Merleau-Ponty scholarship and in linguistics hinges on the structuralist development of the Genevan linguist’s ideas. This article argues that another reading of Saussure, in the light of certain passages of the Course of General Linguistics forgotten by the structuralists, and of the manuscripts related to the published works, shows to the contrary that Merleau-Ponty’s account was sustainable. An understanding of Saussure’s ideas that does not flinch from their paradoxical features can elucidate the French phenomenologist’s views on language and expression. Moreover, the “linguistic turn” in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophical development, identified by James Edie for example, does not seem to have been so clear-cut as has previously been believed; the influence of Saussure’s thought had certainly begun before Merleau-Ponty wrote Phenomenology of Perception.
158. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Beata Stawarska Uncanny Errors, Productive Contresens. Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenological Appropriation of Ferdinand de Saussure’s General Linguistics
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Stawarska considers the ambiguities surrounding the antagonism between the phenomenological and the structuralist traditions by pointing out that the supposed foundation of structuralism, the Course in General Linguistics, was ghostwritten posthumously by two editors who projected a dogmatic doctrine onto Saussure’s lectures, while the authentic materials related to Saussure’s linguistics are teeming with phenomenological references. She then narrows the focus to Merleau-Ponty’s engagement with Saussure’s linguistics and argues that it offers an unusual, if not an uncanny, reading of the Course, in that it identifies a phenomenological dimension within the text, against the grain of the dominant structuralist claim. This phenomenological dimension is corroborated by the authentic sources of Saussure’s linguistics, even though the latter were beyond the philosopher’s own power to know. Merleau-Ponty’s unorthodox reading of the Course as being broadly compatible with the tradition of Husserlian phenomenology has been dismissed as an error (Ricoeur, 1967) and a contresens (Mounin, 1968), but Stawarska proposes that such deviant appropriations of foundational texts are the ones to cherish the most, since they effectively dismantle the received dogmas and official doctrines stuffing the cabinets of canonical philosophy. She argues specifically that Merleau-Ponty’s contested distinction between “a synchronic linguistics of speech (parole)” and “a diachronic linguistics of language (langue)” (Signs, 1964, p. 86), which gives primacy to la parole over la langue, and raises the possibility of a systematic study of la parole, contains a more faithful response to Saussure’s own project than the received structuralist view that la langue alone constitutes the proper object of linguistic study.
159. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
James Mensch The Intertwining as a Form of our Motion of Existence
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Patočka and Merleau-Ponty are both interested in appearing as such. Both attempt to understand this in terms of the body. Despite this agreement, there is a fundamental difference. For Merleau-Ponty, the body’s determination of appearing is ultimately a function of its intertwining with the world. Indeed, its very status as an animated body or “flesh” involves the fact that, located in the world, it also is able to internalize the world that encloses it. This intertwining or “chiasm” is its form as flesh. For Patočka, by contrast, what is crucial is the body’s motility, a motility whose sense embraces all of its actions. He claims that “movement … first makes this or that being apparent, causes it to manifest itself in its own original manner.” I bring these approaches into dialogue by seeing Merleau-Ponty’s chiasm, not just as the form of flesh, but also as the form of its movement.
160. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Dragoş Duicu Merleau-Ponty et Patočka face aux deux apories aristotéliciennes du temps
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This article examines how Merleau-Ponty and Patočka confront the two major difficulties of every phenomenological thinking of temporality, corresponding to the two Aristotelian aporias of time: the unity of time and the permanence of the now (or of eternity). Our goal is to show that only a radical account of movement and the structure of appearing, such as that provided by Patočka following his phenomenological renewal of Aristotle, can clarify the true status of the unity of time and of the temporal present, without falling into an excessive subjectivising thereof or an exacerbation of the transcendent pole (as happens, respectively, in Phenomenology of Perception and The Visible and the Invisible). As an alternative to the Merleau-Pontian chiasm, Patočka offers a rigorous thinking of the phenomenological correlation, making time appear as a sediment of movement.