What is living and what is non-living in Merleau-ponty's philosophy of movement and expression

Chiasmi International 7:225-238 (2005)
In ancient philosophy life has priority: non-living matter is made intelligible by living activity. The modern evolutionary synthesis reverses this priority: life is a passive result of blind, non-living material processes. But recent work in science and philosophy puts that reversal in question, by emphasizing how living beings are self-organizing and active. “Naturalizing” this new emphasis on living activity requires not simply a return to ancient philosophy but a new ontology, a new concept of nature. To explore that ontology, I draw on Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, studying the link between the organism and its environment, the body and the world, as reflecting a nature in which things are already linked in a moving whole. I focus on the topics of expression and movement, putting Merleau-Ponty into conversation with recent discussions in philosophy of science, especially in immunology and in evolutionary theory, and attending to Bergsonian and Hegelian threads in the background of Merleau-Ponty’s thinking.
Keywords Merleau-Ponty   phenomenology   Matter   life   organism   nature   Expression   movement
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DOI 10.5840/chiasmi2005737
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David Morris (2008). Body. In Rosalyn Diprose & Jack Reynolds (eds.), Merleau-ponty: Key Concepts. Acumen Publishing 111-120.

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