, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 331–345 | Cite as

Merleau-Ponty’s Concept of Nature and the Ontology of Flesh

  • Ane Faugstad AarøEmail author
Original Paper


The essay attempts to delineate how Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of perception can be applied to theories of sign processes, and how it reworks the framework of the phenomenalist conception of communication. His later philosophy involved a reformulation of subjectivity and a resolution of the subject/object dualism. My claim is that this non-reductionist theory of perception reveals a different view of nature as we experience it in an expressive and meaningful interaction. The perspective that another living being has and communicates entails a form of depth, the invisible dimension of the visible or audible. These two aspects of perception and dialogue are intertwined in a dialectic of presence and absence, so that sense arises in the perceptual field rather than in subjectivity. This, I argue, is the most fundamental result of his theory. The origination of meaning in the workings of the chiasm of visible and invisible in perception opens up an objective sense of intersubjective nature. The essay also deals with the role of the phenomenological reduction; a suspension of beliefs and existence claims in experience. The reduction enables us to take a step back and look more closely at our understanding of nature in light of the historical and cultural influence on our thinking.


Phenomenology Communication Interpretation Perception Transcendence Subject/object dualism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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