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mirrors, reflexes, reflections

81. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Luca Vanzago

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The interpretive approach adopted in this paper is influenced by Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy and in particular by his understanding of Nature, which in turn takes into consideration Whitehead’s work. Whitehead’s philosophy of organism is seen by its author as the metaphysical generalization of problems found in his investigation of natural knowledge. Whitehead admits that a speculative approach is necessitated by the very questions arising from the mathematical concepts of the material world and the revolutions undergone in logic, mathematics and physics at the turn of the century.Whitehead’s understanding of nature is framed from the beginning in terms of a processual approach. However, this notion of process is not fully worked out in the epistemological works and requires a metaphysical deepening. This is due to the fact that the notion of duration adopted in the epistemological works is not sufficient to convey the notion of process. This lack of adequacy is coupled by Whitehead with the need to interpret process in terms of experience. In turn, this notion of experience is wider than the usual one, for it implies that there is experience from the lowest levels onwards. Matter itself experiences. Seen in this perspective, reality is thus conceived in terms of a whole in constant change, whose parts are in mutual connection. This conception derives from Whitehead’s criticism of Aristotle’s substantialism and from his preference for a relationist ontology. The outcome of this approach is a speculative conception of reality in terms of a twofold notion of process: concrescence and transition, which Whitehead sees as the two faces of the creative advance of nature. This dual notion of process is interpreted in this essay in a merleau-pontyan perspective.
82. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Simon Glynn

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Taking its point of departure from Husserl’s recognition that consciousness is intentional, and Sartre’s concomitant non-reificatory notion of consciousness, understood therefore as not a thing, or as nothingness, definitive of human identity, the article proceeds by asking how, if this is so, is it possible to become conscious of consciousness, which is to say reflectively self-conscious. Explicating the relationship between the reflective mirroring of the Self to the Self, as reflected in “the look of the Other,” and the self’s unmediated or immediate self-recognition, the article proceeds to evaluate each, before providing reasons for the perhaps somewhat startling conclusion that it is our view of the world that is apt to reflect our most authentic image of ourselves to us. While exploring the implications of this, the article concludes by investigating the role of intellectual or rational reflection in ensuring our freedom of choice, and consequent responsibility, for who we choose to be.
83. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Prisca Amoroso

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This essay builds on two questions: the relation of the child with the other and the child’s way of knowing, in which the resistance of the unreflected is not yet problematized. Through a reconstruction of Merleau-Ponty’s critique of Piaget’s idea of the child’s linear intellectual progression toward reflexive abstraction, I highlight the moment of unreflection by taking up the notion of ultra-thing, which Merleau-Ponty borrows from Henry Wallon. These ultra-things are entities with which the child entertains a vague relation and which always remain at the horizon of her perception without yet being possessed in a representation or grasped in a concept. They include, for example, the sun, the sky, the Earth, the body as an object, existence before the birth of the child – uninhabitable dimensions or, to the contrary, ones that are necessarily inhabited. The concept of ultra-thing has not been sufficiently explored in Merleau-Pontian studies and its importance remains underappreciated. This essay thus formulates a hypothesis about the relation between ultra-things and hyper-reflection.
84. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Gael Caignard

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This article studies a link between perception and politics by seeking, in Merleau-Ponty’s work, something like a “mirror relation” in the domains of encounters of love and politics. While in Phenomenology of Perception the analysis of sexuality seemingly renders love impossible, in the courses on Institution, Merleau-Ponty affirms the possibility of love by characterizing it as an institution, a sensible idea, a “mirror relation”. When the lover demands signs of love from the loved one, he demands to see in the eyes, the voice, and the experience of the other his own reflection, the reflection of his experience, his words, his gestures, and the demand of love that he is formulating. The promise of love is thus an institution of sense which sheds a new light on all actions past and future, it is a way of overcoming contingency. Conceiving of politics as a “mirror relation” thus means adopting a careful philosophy that observes the event like a mirror and gives place to sensible ideas, at the intersection of gazes understood as a “type of reflection”.
85. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Matteo Bonazzi

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This essay investigates the question of the birth of the subject through Lacan’s and Merleau-Ponty’s reflections on the function of the mirror, specularity, and the speculative. The first section draws on the “duplication” of self-consciousness described by Hegel in the first pages of Phenomenology of Spirit. The question of the double and the mirror is then examined through the three main versions of Lacan’s mirror stage, interpreted in light of Merleau-Ponty’s own reflections. Finally, I draw on passages from The Prose of the World and Eye and Mind to illustrate an original convergence with questions raised by Lacan’s late teachings.
86. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Marie-Eve Morin

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In this paper, I develop what I call, following Steven Shaviro, Merleau-Ponty’s “cautious anthropomorphism.” Rather than defending Merleau-Ponty against the accusation of anthropomorphism, I show the role this anthropomorphism plays in Merleau-Ponty’s critique of the Cartesian-Sartrian ontology of the object. If the thing is always “clothed with human characteristics,” as Merleau-Ponty says in the Causeries, it is not so that it can be reduced to a powerless object that can easily be assimilated but rather to ensure its own resistance or adversity – and even, paradoxically, its inhumanity. After developing Sartre’s and Merleau-Ponty’s views of things, focusing on their respective reading of Ponge in “Man and Things” and the Causeries, I put Merleau-Ponty in conversation with Jeffrey Cohen’s book Stone to push for a non-humanistic reading of Merleau-Ponty’s anthropomorphism.
87. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Federico Leoni Orcid-ID

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A meditation on specularity as paradigms of a theory of experience which informs every field of philosophy and human sciences, including contemporary neurosciences. And a meditation, starting from neurosciences and mirror neurons, on the different readings of this paradigm of specularity and specularization. In particular, on that “second” reading of specularization, which suggests that the mirror is not an instrument of representation but of expression, not a device of adaquation but of creation. It is an hypothesis that Merleau-Ponty, facing the very same problems contemporary neurosciences are confonted to, reactivates in an increasingly systematic way in his later years, drawing from a tradition which we try here to reconstruct. From Merleau-Ponty to Bergson, from Bergson to Leibniz, this second reading of specularity contains a possibility which is still fruitful and which neurosciences themselves could adopt in order to reconsider in a new perspective the evidences they have considered until now from the point of view of a first reading of specularity. This second reading of specularity suggests that it is not so much necessary to explain how one subject comprehends the other, but how both subjects are comprehended within the transcendental space of what we could call an event. Empathy is not so much a syntonization among subjects, but subjects are a partial and local desyntonization of that empathic system we should place as the beginining and not at the end of the process. Consciousness does not represent the other consciousness, but they express in a simultaneous and specular diffraction the fundamental unity of an event which is every time unique and impersonal.

merleau-ponty and technology

88. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Bernard Andrieu, Anna Caterina Dalmasso

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89. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Bernard Andrieu, Anna Caterina Dalmasso

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90. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Bernard Andrieu, Anna Caterina Dalmasso

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91. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Edoardo Fugali

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The aim of this article is to demonstrate the intrinsically technical nature of visual perception and pictorial performance through their common anchorage in the corporeity that brings them into existence. As with any other artistic technique, painting reveals itself to be the natural extension of a technological attitude already rooted in the sensorimotor devices of the body in action; painting is led to inhabit a world that is of the same nature as corporeal agents, because the objects that populate it share with it the ontological element of the “flesh”. Through Merleau-Ponty’s analyses of Cezanne’s pictorial works, I demonstrate that the main purpose of painting is, analogically with the descriptive analyses made possible by the phenomenological reduction, to render intersubjectively evident the hidden work of vision before its sedimentation in an accomplished perceptual scene. As the experiments of contemporary neuroscience also demonstrate, perception is by and large a reconstructive process of “image-making” rather than an allegedly accurate reproduction of the spectacle of the world. Painting, on the other hand, both in terms of creation and for the observer, employs the same sensorimotor resources as instruments.
92. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Andrea Zoppis

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Through a reading of Merleau-Ponty’s late courses on Nature, this essay presents a new reflection on technique and makes explicit the ontological significance of a rethinking of technique in this period. After an analysis of the historical sense of the notion of Nature and of animal behavior, we turn to cybernetics. The need to rethink man on the basis of his contingency, that is, on the basis of his relationship with the world and with the technical objects through which this relationship is structured, arises in the essay. Merleau-Ponty’s course on Nature has thus allowed us to investigate the ontological significance of the notion of technique by considering technical objects that Merleau-Ponty himself references. Technique, by prolonging Nature, becomes the keystone to the contact between man and Being, thus illustrating the necessity, for philosophy and for culture, of a return to the contact with brute being that founds and inhabits it.
93. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Bernard Andrieu, Petrucia da Nobrega

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The inventiveness of life is at the heart of Merleau-Ponty’s ontology because by separating with behaviorism, philosophy could dialogue with the sciences of development to describe several techniques that we successively study as degrees in the normativity of the living : immanent techniques, ecological techniques, bodily intelligence, and, finally, morphogenetic techniques of development. Through this analysis, we demonstrate the thesis of an activation of the living body from its reflex reactivity to its non-intentional projections in its forms.
94. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Saverio Macrì

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This paper investigates how Merleau-Ponty and Simondon conceived the theory of information and, in particular, assessed its validity as an instrument of analysis in multiple fields of knowledge. Specifically, the comparison will analyze the relationship between organism and environment, which is central both to Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of nature and to Simondon’s theory of individuation. For both authors, the analysis of processes of interaction between organism and environment is characterized by the search for a type of causality that distinguishes itself from mechanism, which reduces these interactions to a sum of independent parts occasionally tied by a causally determined relation. However, while Merleau-Ponty views the categories introduced by the theory of information as a mere reconstruction of the mechanistic perspective, Simondon revises these categories to overcome mechanism and move towards the construction of a model of experience based on relation.
95. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Andrea Giomi

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Although Merleau-Ponty never directly addressed the question of technics, over the past three decades, some of the core concepts of his philosophy have profoundly informed digital media discourse, especially in the field of media arts. The problem of embodiment, in particular, represents a keystone for the understanding of the relationship between bodies and technology. This paper seeks to examine the ways in which some of the French philosopher’s key concepts– embodiment, body schema, presence, intertwining, and flesh – have been employed and re-elaborated in the context of media art theory and practice. The purpose of this study is to shed light on the main conceptual entanglements between Merleau-Pontian philosophy and digital arts and performances. Thus, four topics will be discussed: the virtual body, prosthetics, virtual presence, and digital intertwining of flesh. In the conclusion, I question these concepts and their possibility/ability to pave the way for a Merleau-Pontian philosophy of technology based on the wider paradigm of virtual embodiment.
96. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Samuele Sartori

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The aim of this article is to enrich the concept of technological incorporation, as thematized by Merleau-Pontian phenomenology and post-phenomenology, through a study of the material history of artificial prostheses. We will see in the first section that post-phenomenology, by discussing the plasticity of the corporeal schema, did not recognize the importance of technological transformations; that is, it has given little importance to the inorganic, material correlate through which hybridization is possible. Secondly, we will show how Merleau-Ponty, through a reading of Marx, contributes to phenomenology a naturalistic dialectic between material history and corporeity. This relation appears central to our understanding of the constitutively plastic and performative essence of the corporeal schema. The dialectics that technologies institute, however, do not necessarily lead to an increase in one’s perceptive-agentive capacities. The last section of this article investigates this claim through an analysis of the pathology of phantom limbs, in light of the evolution of prosthetic technologies between the two World Wars.
97. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Isabelle Choinière

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The mediation of the performative body raises the question of the re-evaluation of the lived body in relation to phenomena of re-creation or re-composition involving the sensible and somatic body when it is affected by technology and incorporates its effects. To understand this phenomenon, this essay examines the interrelation of the notions of corporality (a notion which concerns the physical body in its materiality, or the anthropomorphic body), corporeality, and embodiment through a transdisciplinary approach and as an anchoring to a dynamic of self-eco-organization. Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy underpins the very foundations of this research and will allow us to reflect on the new status of the contemporary body in technological contexts. Two main notions will be used. “Corporeality”, as a form of the lived body and a transdisciplinary concept and embodiment as an act of integration by the body – here in a technological environment. In the evolution of the interrelation between the body and the changing environment, the two are in trans-relation, a trans-formation occurs. To conclude, we propose to analyze these new “realities” in a Merleau-Pontian and Nietzschean interconnected approach, that is, through a philosophy of becoming, a philosophy that flows through the body: being a body, doing, risking and creating – a philosophy that resonates with this trans-formation.
98. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Haruka Okui

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In the Sorbonne lectures on the philosophical and psychological inquiry of child development, Merleau-Ponty offers a fundamental insight about imitation. Denying the representation-based explanation of imitation, he proposes that gestures occur without representation through the body-object relation, such as “precommunication” based on the works of body schema. Merleau-Ponty’s thought could be examined by way of more practical examples of body techniques. This paper describes the experience of object manipulation, in particular, Bunraku puppetry. Because three puppeteers manipulate a single puppet together in Bunraku, this example might be a challenge to an ordinary assumption that a body is owned by an individual and that inner thoughts control the body. Merleau-Ponty’s insight suggests that the puppeteers share another type of body schema that is not internalized to their individual bodies but emerges afresh in each performance through collaborative movement.

varia – diverse – varia

99. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Will iam S. Hamrick

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Phenomenologists have always been concerned with the relationships between their methods and the life that sustains and instructs them, and which are, in turn, instructed by it. In its most general form, it is a question of relationships between philosophy and non-philosophy. Maurice Merleau-Ponty conceives of these connections in terms of a reversible inside-outside dynamic from at least Phenomenology of Perception to his unpublished manuscripts. No philosopher better illustrates this dialectic of life and ideas than Michel de Montaigne, whose life and work are the subject of “Reading Montaigne” in Signs. This paper consists of a critical analysis of that essay, and thus forms a meta-inside/outside relationship in reading Merleau-Ponty reading his predecessor. The essay examines, among other things, how Montaigne’s writing provides an instructive example of the intertwining of life and ideas as Merleau-Ponty understood it as well as a puzzle about why he did not connect “Reading Montaigne” with the two chapters of Signs that concern language.
100. Chiasmi International: Volume > 22
Tommaso Tuppini

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We typically conceive of sensation as a residue of empiricism and idealism, both of which claim to reduce our experience to a sum of elementary data that the subject encounters. For Merleau-Ponty, sensation is none of these things: it defines our ability to let ourselves be solicited by the relief and questions of the world. What is sensed is not an inert datum but a gesture of existence that concerns me, invites me to correspond to it and follow it. When I respond to the invitations of what I sense, the connection between me and the world functions as the immobile axis around which the whirls of a whirlwind are formed. Whirlwind of sensation or whirlwind of sleep, because sensing is also made of a night time-space in which the connection with things seem to be broken. The inertia of sleep is whirling in its own way, just as the dynamism of sensation has its own condition of possibility in an immeasurable measure of apathy and indifference.