Merleau‐Ponty, Metaphysical Realism and the Natural World1

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15 (4):501 – 519 (2007)
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Abstract

Environmental thinkers often suppose that the natural world (or some parts of it, at least) exists in its own right, independent of human concerns. The arguments developed in this paper suggest that it is possible to do justice to this thought without endorsing some form of metaphysical realism. Thus the early sections look to Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception to develop an anti-realist account of the independent reality of the natural world, one, it is argued, that has certain advantages over the accounts proffered by 'environmental realists'. The concluding sections draw upon certain of Merleau-Ponty's later works to defend a rather bolder claim: that the conceptions of realism endorsed by environmental thinkers are not just ill equipped but, in fact, unable to acknowledge what may be provisionally referred to as the more-than-human dimension of reality.

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Simon Paul James
Durham University

Citations of this work

Estrangement, Nature and 'the Flesh'.Simon Hailwood - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (1):71-85.

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References found in this work

Phenomenology of perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1945 - Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: The Humanities Press. Edited by Donald A. Landes.
The Visible and the Invisible: Followed by Working Notes.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1968 - Evanston [Ill.]: Northwestern University Press. Edited by Claude Lefort.
Poetry, Language, Thought.Martin Heidegger - 1971 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 31 (1):117-123.
Science and the Modern World.Alfred North Whitehead - 1925 - Humana Mente 1 (3):380-385.

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