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Chiasmi International

Volume 15, 2013

Existence, Diacritics, Animality

James Mensch
Pages 51-64

The Intertwining as a Form of our Motion of Existence

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.

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