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Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Front. Philos. China    2020, Vol. 15 Issue (2) : 242-269
Toward a Multi-Layered Chiasme-Focused Topology: A Reading of Merleau-Ponty’s Later Writings
MA Lin()
School of Philosophy, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
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This paper traces the genealogy of reversibility, chiasma, and chiasme in Merleau-Ponty’s writings and offers a new characterisation of his later ontology in terms of a multi-layered chiasme-focused topology informed by subtle differences and interconnections among these notions. We need to grasp the significance of reversibility not only in terms of constant recoil and impossible overlap but also of its situatedness in the crisscrossing between Dasein and things, and between the inside/invisible and the outside/visible. “Chiasma” was initially introduced as a reference to the intersection of perspectives. Merleau-Ponty deploys it to articulate macroscopic insights concerning the nature of philosophy and the interweaving connections between self, other, and the world. In comparison, “reversibility” is primarily used to describe the microscopic bond between touching-touched and perceiving-perceived. I argue that, as Merleau-Ponty’s ultimate choice of wording, “chiasme” incorporated the significance of both “reversibility” and “chiasma.” A chiasme-focused topology that retains the significance of all three of the terms would serve to better convey the import of Merleau-Ponty’s later ontology, which aims to dissolve and to re-configure our conceptions about being, body, self, and the other from within and from below.

Keywords Merleau-Ponty      chiasma      chiasme      reversibility      intertwining (entrelacs)      ontology     
Issue Date: 09 July 2020
 Cite this article:   
MA Lin. Toward a Multi-Layered Chiasme-Focused Topology: A Reading of Merleau-Ponty’s Later Writings[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2020, 15(2): 242-269.
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