© 2011, Karen Kovaka


In his lecture course on Nature, Merleau-Ponty makes the intriguing claim that an ontology of Nature is the preferred way toward ontology in general. This paper explores why he makes this claim and asks what philosophical significance this approach to ontology might have. Making use of Merleau-Ponty’s notions of chiasm and flesh as the must fundamental ontological truths, I argue that nature and history are related to one another according to the logic of the chiasm and that thinking them in terms of this relationship opens up avenues for addressing long-standing problems in both philosophy of nature and philosophy of history. Specifically, I explore Merleau-Ponty’s response to the problem of a scientific historical methodology that is distinct from the methodology of the natural sciences and suggest that his response, in its reliance on the logic of chiasm, moves the problem beyond the state it reached in the work of Wilhem Dilthey and Edmund Husserl.

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