|MERLEAU-PONTY, WHITEHEAD, AND THE POLITICS OF NATURE|
|Written by ALBERTO TOSCANO|
ABSTRACT. This essay takes its cue from Maurice Merleau-Ponty's discussion of Alfred North Whitehead in his Collège de France course on the concept of nature in order to delve into the roots of the contemporary invocation of the philosophy of nature. It explores Merleau-Ponty's critique of an 'immaterialist' lineage going from Descartes to Sartre, and seeks to problematise the link that the French phenomenologist makes between an organicist concern with bodies, perception and living beings, on the one hand, and an anti-decisionist politics, on the other. The points of convergence and contrast between Merleau-Ponty and Whitehead are used to identify broader issues regarding the philosophical role of the concept of nature and the paths taken by anti-reductionist philosophies. The essay concludes that Whitehead's eschewing of anthropocentric and corporeal themes makes him a far more rigorous opponent of the Cartesian legacy.
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