International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy

Journal | Volume | Article


Chiasm and hyperdialectic

re-conceptualizing sensory deprivation in infancy

Eva-Maria Simms

pp. 637-648


The literature on sensory processing disorders in institutionalized infants highlights the impact of early deprivation on infant perception. Through a Merleau-Pontian, hyperdialectic analysis of the extraordinary development of infant perception under circumstances of severe deprivation the intimate link between environmental affordances and perceptual systems becomes apparent. This paper offers an updated reading of Merleau-Ponty's late work as a philosophy of systems ("structures", "forms", "gestalts", as he called them) and outlines some fertile philosophical concepts and methods developed by Merleau-Ponty in The visible and the Invisible. Merleau-Ponty's concept of the chiasm, understood from a systems perspective, and his method of the hyperdialectic are applied in a child case study of an infant who suffered severe neglect in a Romanian orphanage.

Publication details

Published in:

Morris David (2017). Rethinking Development. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (4).

Pages: 637-648

DOI: 10.1007/s11097-017-9526-y

Full citation:

Simms Eva-Maria (2017). Chiasm and hyperdialectic: re-conceptualizing sensory deprivation in infancy. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (4), pp. 637-648.