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Durham University

Department of Philosophy

Staff

Publication details for Dr Simon Paul James

James, Simon P. (2007). Merleau-Ponty, Metaphysical Realism and the Natural World.*. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15(4): 501-519.

Author(s) from Durham

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.