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Chiasmi International

Volume 21, 2019

Merleau-Ponty, Literature, and Literary Language

David Morris
Pages 289-303

Merleau-Ponty and Mexica Ontology
On Time as Contingent Templacement and the Beginnings of Philosophy

Movement is crucial to Merleau-Ponty’s effort to comprehend sense, meaning as generated within being. This requires a new concept of movement, not as a dislocation within an already determinate space- or time- frame, but as a deeper, more fundamental change that first engenders space and time as determinate contexts in which movement can follow a sensible course. This poses a novel challenge: conceptualizing determinate space and time as contingently arising from a deeper sort of change, which I call templacement. I address this challenge by turning to the Mexica/Aztecs because the most basic term of their ontology is motion-change, and it is obvious to them that motion-change does not occur in an abstract space-time container. Instead, time-place is woven out of ‘prior’ motion-change. This study leads to a deeper lesson for phenomenology, regarding ‘obvious’ presuppositions about what time and philosophy obviously are – and how these presuppositions go hand in hand.