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Environmental Ethics

Volume 10, Issue 2, Summer 1988

David Abram
Pages 101-120

Merleau-Ponty and the Voice of the Earth

Ecologists and environmental theorists have paid little attention to our direct, sensory experience of the enveloping world. In this paper I discuss the importance of such experience for ecological philosophy. Merleau-Ponty’s careful phenomenology of perceptual experience shows perception to be an inherently creative, participatory activity-a sort of conversation, carried on underneath our spoken discourse, between the living body and its world. His later work discloses the character of language itself as a medium born of the body’s participation with a world experienced as alive. That living world is none other than the Earth.

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