Drawing from Merleau-Ponty’s Conception of Movement as Primordial Expression

In: Research in Phenomenology
Lucia Angelino Université Paris 1–Panthéon–Sorbonne Université libre de Bruxelles

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In this paper I intend to show that Merleau-Ponty’s conception of movement as primordial expression, whereby movement is a shaping force that can be discerned in the forms it creates, allows us to go beyond the superficial definition of movement as “change of place” and discover its most essential characteristic: that is the expression of a motion—intrinsic to feeling—which can take on the form of either a generative thrust or an act that traces out and sheds light on the reserve of shapes that everything we have felt has silently traced within us. My argument will unfold in three main stages. First, I intend to show that from Merleau-Ponty’s reflections on pictorial movement there emerges a richer and more refined definition of movement that brings together the two meanings of Aristotelian dunamis (δύναμις): potentia passiva, or being acted upon, and potentia activa, or tending towards act. Second, I will show that this particular understanding of movement allows us to uncover the lived dimension of movement that is intrinsic to sense experience and enacts the metamorphosis of our impressions into the expression that reveals to us the carnal obverse [envers charnel] of our experiences of the visible world. Finally, I will show that this particular understanding of movement proves to be a strategy for thinking of both the emergence of sense within the flesh of the world and the advent of history that unravels at its heart.

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