The Meaning of a Meaningless Coincidence II: Who I Am, Composing, 23/07/2015

Continued from last post . . . One concept, the subject as field. Merleau-Ponty developed this idea through philosophical work on the phenomenology of tactile perception. I picked up this concept and adapted it into my ecological conception of the subject, the heart of Ecology, Ethics, and the Future of Humanity's program of philosophical eco-activism. 

Violence was central to so many of the metaphors and
images that Marinetti would use to explain his art,
politics, philosophy, and the whole of existence.
Marinetti developed the concept through his artistic reflections and experiments on tactile sensation. What’s more, he conceived those sensations as playing out in experience through metaphors of fistfighting. Marinetti always comes back to violence.

Writing traditional philosophy, I would have to dismiss this as a simple coincidence. Marinetti had no historical influence on Merleau-Ponty, so there's nothing here to learn about the history of philosophy.

But I’ve given up writing philosophy according to the conventions and rules of academic practice. EEFH was assembled according to the old rules (though I did push them a little), but Utopias will be a much more experimental text. So we can approach these coincidences as something to learn from. What can we learn?

We can learn something about human nature. The same concept of how the world is, the subject as field, arises in two thinkers independently, through two different means. Marinetti was always a fiercely patriotic soldier, he believed in the power of violence as an expression of strength and nobility, and he understood the field in terms of its power for violence.

Merleau-Ponty was a professor, always rather sedate. Much of his career was spent teaching philosophy, researching philosophy in libraries, or investigating neurological and perceptual science with France’s leading medical scientists and doctors. He died of a heart attack after writing only a few chapters of The Visible and the Invisible, the book where he would have explained in detail his concept of the subject as a dynamic field. 

His scattered, yet detailed, notes suggest that he would explain one important aspect of his touch-centric phenomenology as a worldly eros. We experience the world by touching it, commingling with it, everything literally penetrates everything else. 

Maurice Merleau-Ponty was in many ways a
very peaceful man who lived a very peaceful,
contemplative life. Would that we all could.
This integration fuels the dynamic processes of existence. If Husserl’s vision-centric phenomenology was haunted by solipsism, the separation of the subject from the world, then Merleau's focus on touch conceived of the subject as intimately integrated with the world. 

The entire life of existence – its dynamisms, processes, generations, becomings, changes, natality, creativity, whatever you want to call it – is driven by the blending of objects as their fields touch and mingle.

So two very different conceptions of what a subject is sit at the centre of these philosophies, even though they share the same starting concept, that touch is the primary way in which bodies interact. 

Marinetti prioritizes violence and the power of industrial technology to crush all other orders of existence. So he develops an ethical and political philosophy of conquest, empire, and domination. Ecological sustainability and diversity is my priority, so in Ecology, Ethics, and the Future of Humanity, physical contact integrates us with the world, so that we come to love it as we love ourselves. 

We understand and conceive of our desires, hopes, fears, and dreams in universal form by building philosophical systems out of the concepts we use to understand the world. Our individual desires, hopes, fears, and dreams condition what concepts will occur most readily to us. We study the accidental common ground of two unrelated and very different thinkers so that we can better understand the machinery of human thought and ethics. Contrasting the coincidence, we understand better who and what we are.

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