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161. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Jakub Čapek, Ondřej Švec Introduction
162. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Emmanuel Alloa The Diacritical Nature of Meaning: Merleau-Ponty With Saussure
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“What we have learned from Saussure” affirms Merleau-Ponty “is that, taken singly, signs do not signify anything, and that each one of them does not so much express a meaning as mark a divergence of meaning between itself and other signs.” While it has often been stressed that Merleau-Ponty was arguably among the earliest philosophical readers of Saussure, the real impact of this reading on Merleau-Ponty’s thinking has rarely been assessed in detail. By focusing on the middle period – the years between the publication of the Phenomenology of Perception and the abandonment of the book project The Prose of the World – a special interest in language and its ideality becomes all the more evident. Now this period is crucial for understanding the turn of the later years: similarly to Saussure, who shifted the problem of meaning from a problem of referentiality to an issue of self-differentiation of the linguistic field, Merleau-Ponty shifts his account of perception from a relationship based on sensory subjects and perceived objects to an immanent differentiation of the sensible world. The genesis ofan articulated world can be conceptualized with the experience of children’s language acquisition and the phenomenon of “deflation.” At a certain point in her development, the child interrupts her incessant babbling and learns to shape pauses and silences, which are the precondition for meaningful sounds. Learning how to speak – as it were – would thus be learning how not to speak. The child may only enter a specific language by means of a phonematic restriction; to become a member of a language community is to lose the capacity to speak all languages.
163. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Emre Şan La totalité comme promesse. Recherches sur les limites de l’intentionnalité chez Merleau-Ponty et Patočka
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Our guiding research hypothesis is as follows: we believe that the significant progress made by the phenomenology of immanence and by the phenomenology of transcendence are not distinguished so much by the positing of new problems as by the reformulation of «the question of the ground of intentionality» that fueled the entire phenomenological tradition. It is striking that, despite the different solutions they offer, these two approaches have the same critical orientation vis-à-vis phenomenology (they characterize intentionality by its failure to ensure his own foundation), and they have the task of testing phenomenology in a confrontation with its various «outsides» by according a central place to the «non-intentional.» For it is only by starting from such an enterprise of showing the limits of intentionality that the possibility is opened of a true surpassing of the Husserlian perspective that the given is the measure of all things. To do this, we want to emphasize the positions of Merleau-Ponty and Patočka on this fundamental issue and show that their approaches bear phenomenology, throughits own means, to the threshold of a domain that is no longer the phenomena in the Husserlian sense.
164. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Jakub Čapek, Ondřej Švec Introduzione
165. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Richard Kearney Ecrire la Chair: L’expression diacritique chez Merleau-Ponty
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Merleau-Ponty acknowledges several levels of ‘expression’ running from the most basic forms of sensation to painting, poetry and philosophy. This essay concentrates on his notion of ‘diacritical perception’ as key to this expressive continuum. It shows how Merleau-Ponty makes the radical move of bringing together phenomenological description with structural linguistics to reveal how perception is fundamentally structured like language. It also suggests that this move is part of his overall pursuit of an ‘indirect ontology’. Expression operates by an ‘indirect method’ of gaps, elisions, folds, latencies, absences, hollows, silences, lacunas – or what Merleau-Ponty calls ‘negativities that are not nothing’: nothing but the non-being which reveals being. The radical implications of ‘diacritical perception’ are powerfully explored in Merleau-Ponty’s Collège de France seminar Le monde sensible et le monde de l’expression (1953) and in his late essay ‘Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence’. To perceive diacritically is to read and write the flesh.
166. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Eliška Luhanová La non-présence présente: structure de l’experience chez Merleau-Ponty et Patočka
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The present paper is based on an assumption that M. Merleau-Ponty and J. Patočka penetrate by their proper ways into a specific domain constituted by the mutual relations between the me and all the beings which are given to it where a fundamental ontological reciprocity between the me and the world appears. In our first part, we try to ensure an access to this domain by using the phenomenological method, namely, the analysis of experience. We start from the elementary phenomenological fact that what is given in experience transcends its actual empirical donation, then we proceed to determine the content of this transcendence and propose the concept of the transempirical nature of beings: the being transcends every single actual experience, but not every possible experience. On this ground, we try to reconstruct the general ontological basis that leads us inevitably to the limits of phenomenology. Nevertheless, in our second part, we try to demonstrate – in the form of a hypothesis in progress – that we can probably avoid trespassing on the limits of metaphysics if we agree to trespass on the borders between phenomenology and structuralism, in the sense of a structural ontology of possibilities.
167. Chiasmi International: Volume > 16
Anna Caterina Dalmasso Le médium visible. Interface opaque et immersivité non mimétique
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The relation of reciprocal co-implication that Merleau-Ponty formulates—and on which he insists throughout his work—between sense and the sensible, perception and expression, and then visible and invisible, transforms the way in which one conceives of the medium. Merleau-Ponty’s aesthetics reveals an idea of the medium as a support that erases itself in the act of conveying the signification and also shakes the direct correlation between transparency and mimetic simulation.Understood as the sensible thickness of the body opening onto the world, then as depth and écart that catalyzes vision, the medium, then, furnishes one of the definitions of flesh, as the element of auto-mediation: connective tissue or fabric of communication that is at once écart and internal difference. Merleau-Ponty conceives of the medium as both that which renders and that which is rendered visible. It is therefore no longer an intermediary; it ceases to be an invisible mediator and becomes the opaque element that reveals in filigree the movement of gestaltic difference.It is from such a Merleau-Pontian conception of medium that one can begin to elaborate the complex issues posed by mediality in the post-medial age. The idea of a “visible medium” permits us to break with the confl ation of the simulation’s immersive effect and performance, which often informs the rhetoric concerning medias and new technologies, in order rather to think of an “opaque interface” or an “non-mimetic immersivity.” From such a conception of mediality we can equally understand the phenomenon of numerical convergence, not as the accomplishment of the suppression or dematerialization of the medium, as is the case with traditional theories, but as the point of departure for a return to the body as the condition of possibility for every aesthetic experience.
168. Chiasmi International: Volume > 16
Laura McMahon The Phantom Organic: Merleau-Ponty and the “Psychoanalysis of Nature”
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In a working note to The Visible and the Invisible (1964), Maurice Merleau-Ponty makes an enigmatic call for “a psychoanalysis of Nature.” This paper argues that there are two interrelated ways in which this call might be taken up. First, it might be taken as the demand to give voice to the deep sense of a nature, conceived in terms of unconscious desire rather than scientific rationality, that precedes and exceeds human life. Second, we might do a psychoanalysis of our relationship to nature, of the ways in which modern thought tends to deny and repress the unconscious, organic desire at its heart. This paper addresses the psychoanalysis of nature in both these senses. The first part of this paper takes up Merleau-Ponty’s well-known discussion of the phantom limb in Phenomenology of Perception (1945) in order to give a critique the mind-body dualism implicit in traditional attempts to account for this and related phenomena, and in order to present Merleau-Ponty’s own account of the phantom limb in terms of being in the world. Second, I argue that being in the world requires that we repress not only aspects of our personal pasts, but also our organic nature itself. Third, I argue that much of modern scientific thinking tends to deny the bodily and unconscious dimensions of conscious life—it is this denial that calls for a psychoanalysis in the second sense of studying our troubled and repressive relationship to nature. This denial of our own naturalness is accompanied by a denial of the unconscious and irrational nature of nature itself; finally, I will speak to the ways in which psychoanalysis might go further back than we might expect—beyond our childhoods and to the organic heartbeat of life itself.
169. Chiasmi International: Volume > 16
Dylan Trigg The Role of the Earth in Merleau-Ponty’s Archaeological Phenomenology
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This paper argues that the concept of the Earth plays a pivotal role in Merleau-Ponty’s thinking in two ways. First, the concept assumes a special importance in terms of Merleau-Ponty’s relation to Husserl via the fragment known as “The Earth Does Not Move.” Two, from this fragment, the Earth marks a key theme around which Merleau-Ponty’s late philosophy revolves. In particular, it is with the concept of the Earth that Merleau-Ponty will develop his archaeologically oriented phenomenology. To defend this claim, the paper unfolds in three stages. First, I provide a preliminary reading of Husserl’s fragment, focusing in particular on the co-constitution of body and Earth. Two, I turn to Merleau-Ponty’s interpretations of this fragment, especially in the lectures on nature and then in the later lectures on Husserl. From these varying interpretations, the germs of Merleau-Ponty’s archaeological phenomenology are conceived. Accordingly, in the final part of the paper, I claim that Merleau-Ponty’s account of the Earth is Husserlian insofar as it reinforces the primordial “ground (sol) of experience” but at the same time marks a departure from Husserl insofar as the Earth registers a brute or wild layer that resists phenomenology.
170. Chiasmi International: Volume > 16
Koji Hirose Instituer le chiasme : à partir du cours sur Hegel de Maurice Merleau-Ponty
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In the 1958-1959 Collège de France course, Merleau-Ponty expounds a detailed commentary on the last paragraphs of the Einleitung from Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. We examine in what sense this course has developed the notions that he was in the process of defining, notions such as “chiasm,” “reversibility,” “depth,” and “flesh.”What seems crucial in this course is to clearly define good ambiguity as opposed to bad ambiguity, that is, to the simple mixture of finitude and universality, of interiority and exteriority. It is a question then of revealing, even within Hegelian thought, the operation, although unstable, of good ambiguity and of instituting it beyond the distinction between anthropology and logic without a return to naturalism.It should first be noted that consciousness is for Hegel violence against itself, it gives itself its measure, such that the distinction between measuring and measured is internal to it. By insisting on this “reversibility” of the measuring and the measured, Merleau-Ponty comes to emphasize that the self-relation of consciousness is simultaneously its opening onto a transcendent – an opening whereby it learns something. This leads him to define “the new ontological milieu” which is the depth of the life of consciousness. It is within this depth that the interrogative experience winds on itself.Secondly, if there truly must be a moment where the Hegelian Zweideutigkeit becomes good ambiguity, it will not suffice to explore preobjective depth; it would still be necessary to discern “the hinge” which is “solid, unwavering” and which “remains irremediably hidden.” It is this unwavering hinge that supports phenomena and that, in simultaneously decentering and recentering the fields of appearances, opens a place where one can follow the genesis of sense.Finally, we note that this discovery of the new ontological milieu can be considered as the recovery of the notion of institution that Merleau-Ponty had proposed in 1954-1955: on the one hand, the notion of chiasm invites us to reveal the hinge which at once decenters and recenters the fields of appearances. This hinge is free from the alternative of nature and culture, of subjective and objective spirit; it is the rootedness of our interrogative experience in brute being, which is not object but starts an indefinite search of self. But, on the other hand, the notion of institution, which is essentially descriptive and factual, makes us better feel the weight of the instituted that is also irremediably hidden. It makes us feel the inertia of the instituting event, as well as its fecundity and its cumulativity.
171. Chiasmi International: Volume > 16
Luca Vanzago Raw Being and the Darkness of Nature. On Merleau-Ponty’s Appropriation of Schelling
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In this article, we will reflect on the theoretical strategy implemented by Merleau-Ponty in his reading of Schelling. The purpose is not to verify the philological accuracy of his reading, but rather to examine two different yet interconnected questions: on the one hand, to study the sense Schelling’s concept of Nature takes in Merleau-Ponty’s ontological project; on the other, to discuss the role that Schelling’s philosophy effectively plays in the way that Merleau-Ponty approaches the problem of Nature. These two questions should not be equated, since the first aspect concerns the evaluation of Merleau-Ponty’s project and thus of the specific function played by his reading of Schelling in the ontology of the flesh. The second, however, concerns the problems raised by this very project, which will appear more clearly if we consider Schelling’s philosophy in its general development, over and above what is said by Merleau-Ponty. In fact, he has a tendency to privilege the early Schelling, closer to Hegel and to speculative idealism, but he only makes a few allusions to the more mature ideas, which Schelling mainly explains in the unfinished treatise on the ages of the world, from which Merleau-Ponty draws, nevertheless, the theme of the barbarous principle. The task, consequently, is to understand the extent to which Merleau-Ponty was able to incorporate the “abyssal” value of this notion, developed by Schelling especially when he sought to distance himself from his own transcendental idealist philosophy.We will thus ask whether Merleau-Ponty’s reading is partial, and if we can find, nonetheless, certain indications that show at which point he was able to take up the direction in which Schelling addressed the theme of Nature as barbarous principle. At stake is the question of the negativity, the latency, the opacity of Nature. In the first part of the essay, we briefly explain Merleau-Ponty’s interpretation of Schelling in his course on Nature at the Collège de France in 1956-1957. In the second part, we present an interpretation of Schelling’s notion of the barbarous principle in light of the treatise on the ages of the world, and in particular the second draft, which is more speculative and audacious. In the third part, finally, we propose an interpretation of Merleau-Ponty’s position which can show us, at least indirectly, how the notion of flesh can recognize Schelling’s theoretical indications in their more pessimistic and radical valence, centered on the notion of de-cision (Ent-Scheidung) as ontological divide. While not clearly argued, in part due to the nature of the unfinished manuscript of The Visible and the Invisible, this notion is given an implicit treatment in this work that helps deepen the interpretation of the ontology of the flesh in the sense of a renewed mediation on negativity.
172. Chiasmi International: Volume > 16
Leonard Lawlor Nascency and Memory: Reflections on Véronique Fóti’s Tracing Expression in Merleau-Ponty
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This is a review essay on Véronique Fóti’s Tracing Expression in Merleau-Ponty. It attempts to display the pattern that constitutes “the in filigree tracings” of Tracing Expression in Merleau-Ponty. In other words, it reconstructs the conceptual features that go into the “unthought” of expression that Véronique Fóti has given us. The reconstruction takes place in two steps. The first reconstructs the concept of expression itself as Fóti sees it in Merleau-Ponty’s thought. Here, we follow Fóti’s analysis and resolution of what Merleau-Ponty himself called “the paradox of expression.” Fóti’s “resolution” of the paradox takes us then to a second step, in which we determine Fóti’s “radicalization” of the paradox. The radicalization of the paradox takes place through specific criticisms that Fóti levels against Merleau-Ponty’s writings on painting. These criticisms allow us to see that the unthought of expression lies in nascency. Fóti’s new concept of expression revolves around the idea of nascency. Nascency allows Fóti not only to envision a metaphysics of expression but also and especially an ethics. However, Fóti’s stress of nascency raises a difficult question that she does not pose. While the word “nascency” appears countless times in Tracing Expression in Merleau-Ponty, the word “death,” as far as I can tell, appears only twice in the entire book. I argue that the absence of death in Tracing Expression in Merleau-Ponty conjoined with the stress of nascency opens out onto the question of memory, hence the title of my presentation, “Nascency and Memory.” Tracing Expression in Merleau-Ponty exhibits a compelling combination of modesty and ambition. Undoubtedly, the modesty results from Fóti’s long-standing devotion to Merleau-Ponty’s thought. This devotion, however, did not stop her from recognizing the “failures” of Merleau-Ponty’s thinking. The ability to see beyond the thinking to which one is most devoted is truly one of the marks of a great philosopher.
173. Chiasmi International: Volume > 16
Jacopo Bodini L’insaisissable présence du présent. La précession du présent sur soi-même comme temporalité de notre époque
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Merleau-Ponty’s later philosophy seems devoted to a fundamental task, knowing how to grasp what he calls a “mutation within the relations of man and Being.” Such a mutation concerns, in the first instance, Merleau-Ponty’s time, knowing the era in which he lives and writes: it is a mutation that is given in history, and thus generated by historical events. At the same time, this mutation has to do with the very essence of time, as the ontological counterpart of being itself. It is, in this later instance, a mutation of the temporality of being: of an intimate being, the being of self, of the unconscious; but also of a communal and shared being—assumed universal—the being of history.An oblique reflection on a temporality thus conceived emerges in his course notes, “Institution in Personal and Public History.” Temporality, here considered as the transcendental of institution, the condition of its possibility, reveals itself as antichronological and anti-metaphysical: it escapes the linearity of successive presents, the retrograde movement of the real (which has characterized Western philosophy since Plato), the dialectical movement of history according to Hegel.Indirectly, Merleau-Ponty develops a complex temporal figure—from the structural point of view—where “the past […] takes on the outline of a preparation or premeditation of a present that exceeds it in meaning although it recognizes itself in it.” The past is thus not a former present, but—as mythical past—it is simultaneously in the present itself.This revolution of the temporality of being also affects our time. From the ontological discontinuity emphasized by Merleau-Ponty, the mutation within the relations of man and being happening today seems to be characterized by the loss of all dimensions of time: there is only a present, which, nevertheless, is never present. This is true first of all from a personal point of view: desire no longer pursues its fulfillment—although imaginary and impossible—in the mythical horizon of the past, but rather looks for enjoyment, just as impossible and imaginary, in an elusive present that always exceeds us. This desertification of time also reveals itself in history, where, with and after the postmodern, the present seems to stand out as the only possible temporal dimension, depriving history of its sense and its universality.It seems to us that the philosophy of the later Merleau-Ponty prefigures, or, at least, allows us to think, this subsequent mutation. This is a minor figure, but the subject of significant studies, such as that of “precession,” that can help us not only to understand, but also to re-signify, this mythical present and never present that haunts our time.
174. Chiasmi International: Volume > 16
Véronique M. Fóti Neither Pure Nascency nor Mortality: Crossing-Out Absolutes in the Event of Presencing
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Since both these readings of Tracing Expression converge on a number of focal issues, namely the diacriticity and creativity of expression, memory, temporality, and the trace, the relation of artistic creation to the proto-artistic creativity of nature, and the elemental or what Toadvine calls “the end of the world,” I enter into dialogue with both interlocutors on these issues.Given the differential character of expression and the silences that permeate the sedimentation that it draws upon, nothing is replicatively bodied forth by it, and itsspontaneity remains intact. While Lawlor suggests that a fundamental negation is at the core of of manifestation, I call attention to the need to guard against absolutizing the negative or giving it a “secondary positivity.”I do not think that there is any fundamental tension, for Merleau-Ponty, between nascency and memory, given that sedimentation, as “the trace of the forgotten” remains efficacious as the exigency of a future. The basic character of the trace is not that of a mere residue but is akin to the archē-trace; and the past that it refers to iis immemorial. It is important, in this context, to bear in mind the event- and the field-character of institution.I do not think that my emphasis on the autonomy of art breaks the contitnuity between art and the proto-artistic creativity of nature. Firstly, Merleau-Ponty’s ownunderstanding of painting as a “secret science” (which I am critical of) interrogatively addresses, not perceptual configurations, but “wild being” and thus presencing itself, whereas the autonomy I call attention to is not a pure transcendence. Indeed, Merleau-Ponty, in “Cézanne’s Doubt,” stresses that Cézanne’s approach to his work undercuts conceptual dichotomies (such as immanence and transcendence).As concerns an understanding of non-figurative painting as an initmation of “the end of the world,” understood as a return to the pure elements in a paroxysm of sheer materiality, I voice three reservations. These concern, firstly, any unitary understanding of “world,” secondly a reductive understanding of the primordial elements, and thirdly that there cannot be any genuine art in the absence of perceptual configuration, or in sheer formlessness. Notwithstanding these reservations, however, I am profoundly appreciative of Lawlor’s and Toadvine’s intellectually engaged and perceptive readings of Tracing Expression.
175. Chiasmi International: Volume > 16
Stefano Micali Il giudizio riflettente estetico nella Critica del Giudizio. Una ripresa fenomenologica
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In this essay, the author intends to show the reasons for the interest on the Critique of Judgment, and especially to aesthetic judgment of taste within thephenomenological context. The study is divided into four sections: at first the concept of aesthetic reflective judgment will be introduced, highlighting the crucial role it assumes within the Kantian critical project as a whole (I). In a second step the specificity of the judgment of taste will be studied with particular attention on its character of Zweckmässigkeit and its universal voice (II). In the third section it will be shown how the judgment of taste introduces a new paradigmatic articulation of the relationship between feeling and thinking, which is further explained through a critical comparison with the interpretations of Jean-Francois Lyotard and Marc Richir (III) of aesthetic judgment. In the last and more extended section, the affinity of the disinterested character of the judgment of taste with the phenomenological attitude will be at the center of the research (IV).
176. Chiasmi International: Volume > 16
Angelica Nuzzo Merleau-Ponty and Classical German Philosophy: Transcendental Philosophy after Kant
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This essay examines the presence of Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel in Merleau-Ponty’s thought. The perspective adopted here is methodological. Central to this is the choice of “transcendental phenomenology,” understood as a rehabilitation of the idealism and subjectivism proper to the transcendentalism of Kant and Fichte—the choice by which Merleau-Ponty refuses to abandon transcendental philosophy, like Hegel on the contrary did with his dialectical-speculative philosophy, and follows instead the phenomenological perspective suggested for the first time by Schelling.
177. Chiasmi International: Volume > 16
Faustino Fabbianelli Dalla “riflessione radicale” alla “superriflessione”. La fenomenologia di Merleau-Ponty tra Hegel e Schelling
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In this essay, I intend to show the evolution that the thought of Merleau-Ponty undergoes from the Phenomenology of Perception to The Visible and the Invisible. I do so by employing the Merleau-Pontyian notions of “radical reflection” and “hyper-reflection,” which I will consider as expressions of two alternative ways of resolving the task of philosophy: to highlight, in the first case, the immediate relation between the subject and the world, in the second case, the chiasm between the thinking and the Being of the world. There are three main stages to my reasoning: 1) to show the conceptual differences that obtain between the first Merleau-Pontyian phenomenology and the Hegelian philosophy; 2) to illustrate the insufficiency, recognized ex post by Merleau-Ponty himself, of the existential analyses contained in the Phenomenology of Perception; 3) to identify the concept that allows him to formulate a new ontology, and to go beyond the Hegelian dialectic, in the “nature” which is spoken of in the positive philosophy of the late Schelling.
178. Chiasmi International: Volume > 16
Takashi Kakuni L’interrogation et L’intuition : Merleau-Ponty et Schelling
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In the 1956-1957 course titled “The Concept of Nature”, Merleau-Ponty takes up Schelling’s thought. In reading Merleau-Ponty’s text on Schelling’s philosophy, we arrive at a point of contact between the philosophy of natural productivity and the philosophy of intellectual or artistic intuition. Merleau-Ponty seems to discover the Schellingian idea of the absolute as an abyss against the Cartesian idea of God as creator. The Merleau-Pontian interpretation of Schelling’s philosophy of nature and art from his course gives us one of the keys to his unfinished ontology, which is that nature and art, physis and logos, are tied up in the perception of the dimension of being given in painting or poetry, as the analysis of painting in Eye and Mind will show us an organon of the ontology of the savage being.
179. Chiasmi International: Volume > 16
Stefan Kristensen L’inconscient machinique et L’idée d’une ontologie politique de la chair
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The psychoanalyical notion of the unconscious is often considered as being out of reach for phenomenological thinking. When Merleau-Ponty refl ects on it, he takes the unconscious as the realm, in bodily life, that being not yet conscious, is likely to become conscious. He formulates it in his Résumés de cours with the famous sentence “The unconscious is the sensing itself”. Lacan, facing this interpretation, explains that Merleau-Ponty fails to recongnize the essential discontinuity between consciousness and the unconscious. From that criticism, it is possible to follow the reflection of Félix Guattari who develops, both alone and in collaboration with Gilles Deleuze, a conception of the “machinic unconscious”, a notion that can be read as an attempt to articulate the merleau-pontian and the lacanian approaches and to sketch out a theory of the becoming-subject. My aim in this paper, in speaking about “Merleau-Ponty Tomorrow”, consists therefore in appropriating some of his suggestions in this regard and to detect them in an unexpected context (the writing of Guattari), thereby also noting the differences between them. Through this dialogue, I get to a position where it is possible to outline a critique of the contemporary “theory of the self”, which in myview is unaware of the fact that the self is always already caught in power relations. Guattari’s “micropolitics of desire” allows precisely to account for that and thus to develop the phenomenological approach to the self.
180. Chiasmi International: Volume > 16
Ted Toadvine Diacritics of the Inexpressible: Tracing Expression with Véronique Fóti
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Véronique Fóti’s Tracing Expression in Merleau-Ponty demonstrates how the problem of expression motivates and unifies Merleau-Ponty’s investigations of art, life, nature, and ontology, culminating in a timely conception of nature as a differential expressive matrix. The key to this expressive ontology is diacritical difference. We raise three questions for this diacritical ontology: how it embodies the memory of the world, how it is interrupted by transcendence, and how it dissolves into elementality. Our inquiry points towards a diacritics of the inexpressible.