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Extra info for Merleau-Ponty's Last Vision: A Proposal for the Completion of ''The Visible and the Invisible'' (SPEP)

Example text

There must be an experience that puts us in contact with the world outside and yet separates us from it, keeps us at a distance from it. And there is of course such an experience, an experience which is grounded in the human body, in the body as a two-dimensional being. This body is lived through, is phenomenal, is experienced from the inside as it opens to the outside. Yet this body is also experienced from the outside, is seen or touched from the outside. These two dimensions are never coincident.

For Merleau-Ponty, there is never full coincidence with thing or self, since the body as perceiving and the body as perceived never coincide in the temporal flow of experience. Presence is always given in the context of spatial and temporal difference, a difference that is nevertheless held together by a transcendent world and by the human body that opens out unto it and partially fuses with it. Merleau-Ponty states explicitly that it is this “fabric of experience,” this “flesh of time” that allows us to connect with the world and others and yet also prevents us from penetrating “into the hard core of being”: My incontestable power to give leeway, to disengage the possible from the real, does not go so far as to dominate all the implications of the spectacle and to make of the real a simple variant of the possible; on the contrary, it is the possible worlds and possible beings that are the variants and are like doubles of the actual world and actual Being.

A consideration of language leads us to a better understanding of coincidence, for if coincidence is total fusion with the thing, then language can only cut us off from this fusion, for it would act as a means or an instrument that expresses the thing yet simultaneously separates us from it, that distorts the thing as it is purely in itself (VI 125). Yet philosophers speak; they attempt to express their mute contact with the world. However, they also realize that language cannot articulate this silence because by its very nature it takes it up and expresses it.

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