Ecological Holism: Arne Naess’s Gestalt Ontology and Merleau-Ponty’s Bodily-Flesh Phenomenology

  • Su-chen Wu


Spirituality does not only concern our own inner development but is also a way of living in which we feel love and concern for all life in the universe. In the West, there are several modern theories which call for a new relationship between humans and nature. Such a relationship would acknowledge the equality and interrelatedness of humans and nature. As a French phenomenological philosopher, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy evolved into an emphasis on the body and the concrete “life-world.” He attempted to develop a conception of the world, others, and himself, and, in particular, their interrelations. His philosophy of hermeneutical phenomenology of the body and flesh has particularly informed my thinking about our existence in the world and our relationship to the earth. Deep Ecology is inextricably associated with Arne Naess, whose gestalt ontology is significant in that it makes a central place for questions about the implications of our conceptions of nature and of what is other than human. The chief ecological ideas revealed in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of the structure of being correspond with the principles of the modern ecological arguments of Deep Ecology in its holistic worldviews: the assertion of the interrelatedness between human self and the natural world. In my paper, I make a comparative study between Arne Naess’s Gestalt ontology of Deep ecology and Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy arising from his bodily-flesh Phenomenology. This essay attempts to illustrate how the holistic thinking within both offers a new and fresh perspective on how humans, animals, plants, and ecosystems are closely connected and interrelated.


Arne Naess Maurice Merleau-Ponty Deborah Du Nann Winter 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Su-chen Wu
    • 1
  1. 1.Fo Guang UniversityYilanTaiwan

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