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101. Chiasmi International: Volume > 14
Luca Vanzago Naturalizing Phenomenology, and the Nature of Phenomena: On Varela, Petitot, and Merleau-Ponty
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La naturalisation de la phénoménologie et la nature des phénomènesLe projet de naturalisation de la phénoménologie est né comme une tentative d’intégrer réciproquement les neurosciences et la philosophie phénoménologique. Les principaux représentants de ce projet, Jean Petitot et Francisco Varela, ont étés inspirés par Merleau-Ponty en tant que référence philosophique permettant de développer de façon féconde ce point de vue. Cependant, les deux auteurs ne semblent pas assumer jusqu’au bout les enjeux réels posés par la réflexion philosophique de Merleau-Ponty qui, si d’un côté permet certainement de concevoir la pensée et l’expérience en termesd’incorporation, d’autre part, développe une ontologie phénoménologique qui échappe à l’approche réductionniste commun à Varela et Petitot. Dans les deux cas, en effet, le présupposé ontologique est encore dérivé d’une compréhension de la nature comme domaine de la matière comprise en termes déterministes, modèle que l’ontologie phénoménologique de Merleau-Ponty permet au contraire de subvertir. Par conséquent, les fructueuses indications théoriques contenues dans le projet de naturalisation de la phénoménologie doivent néanmoins faire face à une compréhension adéquate de la signification de l’idée de naturalisation, qui soit effectivement phénoménologique en n’acceptant pas de façon acritique aucune option théorique quoique significative.La naturalizzazione della fenomenologia e la natura dei fenomeniIl progetto di naturalizzazione della fenomenologia nasce come tentativo di integrare reciprocamente le neuroscienze e la filosofia fenomenologica. Gli esponenti principali di questo progetto, Jean Petitot e Francisco Varela, si sono ispirati a Merleau-Ponty come a colui che ha consentito di sviluppare nel modo più fecondo tale prospettiva. Tuttavia entrambi gli autori sembrano non fare fino in fondo i conti con la riflessione di Merleau-Ponty, che se da una parte consente effettivamente di concepire il pensiero e l’esperienza in termini di incorporazione, d’altro canto sviluppa una ontologia fenomenologica che sfugge all’approccio riduzionistico comune a Varela e Petitot. In entrambi i casi infatti il presupposto ontologico è pur sempre ricavato da una comprensione della natura come dominio della materia intesa in senso deterministico, che l’ontologia fenomenologica della natura di Merleau-Ponty sovverte. Pertanto le pur feconde indicazioni teoriche contenute nel progetto di naturalizzazione della fenomenologia devono ancora fare i conti con una adeguata comprensione del significato dell’idea di naturalizzazione, che sia autenticamente fenomenologico nel non assumere in modo inavvertito alcuna opzione teorica per quanto significativa.
102. Chiasmi International: Volume > 14
Philippe Descola The Ontology of Others: An interview conducted by Davide Scarso about Maurice Merleau-Ponty
103. Chiasmi International: Volume > 14
Federico Leoni Introduction
104. Chiasmi International: Volume > 14
Federico Leoni, Davide Scarso Introduction
105. Chiasmi International: Volume > 14
Guillaume Carron Introduction
106. Chiasmi International: Volume > 14
Shiloh Withney Affective Orientation, Difference, and “Overwhelming Proximity” in Merleau-Ponty’s Account of Pure Depth: A New Conception of Intentionality?
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Orientation affective, différence et « écrasante proximité » dans l’analyse merleau-pontyenne de la profondeur pureJe montre ici que la théorie de Merleau-Ponty sur l’expérience particulière d’une « profondeur pure » peut être comprise comme une orientation affective précédant l’orientation perceptive, et explique son rôle dans la proposition d’une « nouvelle conception de l’intentionnalité ». Le corps-monde comme relation de différenciation est repensé comme la différenciation intime et pré-objective de cette dimension affective. Je pense, contrairement à Toadvine (2009), que la position de Merleau-Ponty dans la Phénoménologie de la perception, peut être distinguée de la conception sartrienne de l’intentionnalité comme annihilation. La dimension provocatrice de ma lecture sur la profondeur pure vis-à-vis des discours érudits sur Merleau-Ponty est discutée en conclusion, et je pose en particulier la question de savoir s’il peut être utile de lire Merleau-Ponty comme un penseur de la différence.Orientamento affettivo, differenza e “schiacciante prossimità” nell’analisi merleau-pontyana della pura profonditàNel mio saggio, illustro la descrizione che Merleau-Ponty propone della particolare esperienza della “pura profondità” come un’orientazione affettiva che precede l’orientamento percettivo e ipotizzo il suo ruolo nel quadro del progetto merleau-pontiano di costruire una “nuova concezione dell’intenzionalità”. La relazione differenziante tra corpo e mondo è riformulata come quella differenziazione intima e pre-oggettiva che caratterizza tale dimensione affettiva; ciò supporta la mia ipotesi, in opposizione a Toadevine (2009), che la posizione sostenuta da Merleau-Ponty in Fenomenologia della Percezione può essere distinta dalla proposta sartriana d’intendere l’intenzionalità in termini di annichilamento. Concludo il saggio con una discussione delle possibili provocazioni che la mia lettura della teoria della pura profondità potrebbe sollevare nella comunità scientifica merlau-pontiana, soffermandomi in particolare sull’interrogativoriguardo alla possibilità di leggere produttivamente Merleau-Ponty come un pensatore della differenza.
107. Chiasmi International: Volume > 14
Keith Whitmoyer Merleau-Ponty and the Permanent Dissonance of Being. The Temporal Extensions of the Transcendental Field in Phenomenology of Perception
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La dissonance permanente de l’être.L’extension du champ transcendental dans Phénoménologie de la perceptionRépondant aux reproches d’idéalisme subjectif qui hantent la Phénoménologie de la perception depuis sa publication, le présent essai affirme que l’intention deMerleau-Ponty dans ce texte n’est pas de soutenir la primauté ontologique de la conscience constituante transcendantale, mais de restaurer une certaine« épaisseur temporelle » (Merleau-Ponty 1945, 459) à la théorie de la genèse du sens. Dans Le champ phénoménal, Le cogito, et finalement dans certaines des réflexions de Merleau-Ponty sur la peinture, l’enjeu dans sa conception du champ transcendantal n’est pas une nouvelle théorie de la consciencetranscendantale, mais la possibilité de penser les conditions du sens d’une manière qui reconnaît leur extension temporelle. Le résultat est que la réductionphénoménologique ne se résout pas à une série de conditions éternitaires, mais dévoile le champ transcendantal comme la dissonance permanente, temporelle de l’être dans son éclatement expressif : le champ transcendantal n’est donc pas, par conséquent, un λόγος, accordingly, mais un cri.La permanente dissonanza dell’essere.L’estensione del campo trascendentale in Fenomenologia della percezioneRispondendo alle osservazioni critiche riguardo il residuo di idealismo soggettivistico che hanno perseguitato Fenomenologia della percezione fin dalla sua pubblicazione, questo saggio afferma che l’intenzione di Merleau-Ponty in quest’opera non è sostenere il primato ontologico del trascendentale, della coscienza costituente, bensì restituire un certo “spessore temporale” (Merleau-Ponty, Phénoménologie de la perception, 456) alla comprensione della genesi del senso. A partire da Le champ phenomenal, Le cogito, ed infine da alcune riflessioni merleau-pontiane sulla pittura, quello che è in gioco nella presa in conto del campo trascendentale non è una nuova teoria della coscienza trascendentale, ma la possibilità di pensare le condizioni del senso in un modo che ne riconosca l’estensione temporale. Il risultato è che la riduzione fenomenologica non si risolve in una serie di condizioni eternitarie, ma dischiude invece il campo trascendentale come la permanente dissonanza temporale dell’essere nel suo éclatement espressivo: il campo trascendentale, dunque, non è un λόγος, ma un grido.
108. Chiasmi International: Volume > 14
David Morris Merleau-Ponty, Passivity, and Science. From Structure, Sense and Expression, to Life as Phenomenal Field, via the Regulatory Genome
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Merleau-Ponty, la passivité et la scienceJe soutiens qu’il y a plus en jeu dans l’intérêt de Merleau-Ponty pour la science qu’une simple dialectique entre disciplines. C’est parce que son évolutionméthodologique le conduit à trouver dans la science un moyen spécifique d’approfondir ses recherches ontologiques, que celle-ci hante de plus en plus sa philosophie. En effet, dans le chapitre « champ phénoménal » de la Phénoménologie de la perception, il est possible de rapprocher certains aspects de son défi méthodologique et l’idée selon laquelle la philosophie tient son origine d’une conscience réflexive, active et autonome dans son ensemble. Je lie cela aux problèmes de la passivité de telle sorte que la science apparaisse comme une façon de saisir la réflexion non pas comme autonome, mais comme une opération du champ phénomenal, comme réflexion radicale. Grâce à l’analyse critique des recherches récentes sur le génome, je montre ensuite commentl’embryologie peut nous aider à conceptualiser la vie comme un champ phénoménal, c’est-à-dire comme un champ qui engendre ce même genre d’opérations qui caractérisent aussi la phénoménalité. Cela nous conduit à voir la phénomenologie non plus comme une réflexion de survol sur les phénomènes, mais plutôt comme une réflexion radicale qui se realise à travers un phénoménalité plus « ancienne », qui appartient à la vie ellemême. Cela ouvre également des perspectives sur quelques problèmes difficiles de la dernière philosophie de Merleau-Ponty; ceux-ci sont abordés d’une manière nouvelle, grâce au rapprochement de sa première philosophie et de la science actuelle.Merleau-Ponty, la passività e la scienzaRitengo che, nell’interesse che Merleau-Ponty rivolge alla scienza, vi sia in gioco qualcosa di più del semplice confronto dialettico con un’altra disciplina. Il motivo è che il suo impegno metodologico finisce per individuare nella scienza una speciale risorsa per l’indagine di quelle profonde questioni ontologiche che investono in modo crescente la sua filosofia. Intendo argomentare tale ipotesi, connettendo dei passi del capitolo di Fenomenologia della percezione “Il campo fenomenico” con la sua sfida metodologica all’idea che la filosofia abbia inizio da una coscienza riflessiva autonoma e interamente attiva. Collego questo alle questioni della passività in un modo che rivela la scienza come una potenziale risorsa per comprendere la riflessione non come autonoma, bensì in quanto operazione di e nel campo fenomenico – come riflessione radicale. Poi, attraverso un’analisi critica dei risultati recenti riguardanti il DNA regolatore, mostrocome l’attuale embriologia può aiutarci a concettualizzare la vita come un campo fenomenico che implicitamente produce i tipi di operazioni rivelatrici distintive della fenomenalità. Questo ci permette di collocare la fenomenologia non semplicemente come una riflessione dall’alto sui fenomeni, ma come una riflessione radicale che opera grazie ad una “più antica” fenomenalità della vita. Questo ci fornisce degli spunti su alcune difficili questioni nella filosofia dell’ultimo Merleau-Ponty, suggerendo un nuovo percorso che giunga a queste combinando il primo periodo della sua filosofia con la scienza recente.
109. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Edward S. Casey, Donald Landes, Eduardo Mendieta, Michael Naas, Leonard Lawlor Hugh J. Silverman (1945-2013)
110. 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.
111. 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.
112. 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.
113. 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.
114. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Information
115. 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).
116. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Jakub Čapek, Ondřej Švec Introduction
117. 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.
118. 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.
119. Chiasmi International: Volume > 15
Ted Toadvine Introduction
120. 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.