Environmental Philosophy

Volume 4, Issue 1/2, Spring/Fall 2007

Special Double Issue: Environmental Aesthetics and Ecological Restoration

James Hatley
Pages 77-93

Sensing Environmentalism Anew
Gestate Witness of a More-than-Human World in Merleau-Ponty

Merleau-Ponty advances a notion of witness in The Visible and the Invisible, which could be termed “gestate.” Gestate witness involves an acknowledgement through one's own body of how another living entity is born into its own body. This notion of witness is helpful in answering Anthony Weston's challenge that a sufficiently positive notion of environmentalism and so of environmental responsibility be developed, one that takes seriously how we come into contact with a more-than-human animate world. The work of biologist Tarn Ream with Trillium ovatum serves as a case study in the aesthetic, ethical and ontological significance of gestate witness.