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Feeling in the flesh: approaching an ecological ethic through Whitehead and Merleau-Ponty

Kirkpatrick, Andrew 2017, Feeling in the flesh: approaching an ecological ethic through Whitehead and Merleau-Ponty, Parrhesia: a journal of critical philosophy, vol. 28, pp. 176-196.

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Title Feeling in the flesh: approaching an ecological ethic through Whitehead and Merleau-Ponty
Author(s) Kirkpatrick, Andrew
Journal name Parrhesia: a journal of critical philosophy
Volume number 28
Start page 176
End page 196
Total pages 21
Publisher Open Humanities Press
Place of publication Parkville, Vic.
Publication date 2017
ISSN 1834-3287
Keyword(s) Environmental Philosophy
Alfred North Whitehead
Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Intentionality
Intentional Potentiality
Environmental Ethics
Ontology
Phenomenology
Process Philosophy
Summary The flesh remains one of the most environmentally promising concepts in Merleau-Pontian scholarship. However, debate surrounds its viability as a conceptual grounding for an environmental ethic. This paper will examine the flesh as understood by Abram, Toadvine, Barbaras and Bannon, before presenting Whitehead’s process philosophy of organism as the means through which we can unify and elaborate these interpretations into an ecological ethic. It is argued that Whitehead’s philosophy provides the metaphysical grounding for the kind of relational, affective ontology that Bannon seeks, while preserving the perceptual emphasis of the flesh found in Abram, Toadvine and Barbaras. Taking up Bannon’s relational interpretation of the flesh, I argue that a Whiteheadian approach to the flesh can lead to the development of an optimistic ecological ethic based on notions of creativity and possibility within nature, expressed through the cultivation of intentional potentiality. Importantly, the cautiousness of this claim reflects the provisional and ambiguous nature of intentional potentiality itself, which rejects the prospect of absolute control over nature while also emphasising the enormous responsibility that human beings have for nature.
Language eng
Field of Research 220399 Philosophy not elsewhere classified
2203 Philosophy
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2017, Andrew Kirkpatrick
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30105202

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.