Educating For and Through Nature: A Merleau-Pontian Approach
Hung, R., 2008. Educating For and Through Nature: A Merleau-Pontian Approach. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 27 (5), pp. 355-367.
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This paper aims to explore the relationship between humans and nature and the implied intimacy, so-call 'ecophilia,' in light of the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. It is revealed from the Merleau-Pontian view of body and nature that there may be a more harmonious relationship between humankind and nature than the commonly assumed, and an alternative understanding of education may thus arise. Following an introduction, this paper falls into three parts: an exploration of the meaning of nature, the corporeality of the body as central to our encounter with nature and the educational implications. The introduction argues that central to one's understanding of nature is one's understanding of oneself and the world. To some extent, our current environmental problems are related to a negative understanding of nature. The meaning of nature and our relationship with it will be elaborated by the exploration of the key significance of body to be found in Merleau-Ponty's philosophy. It will be argued that overall, our understanding of the body may be central to reconnecting humankind and nature. Such a re-conceiving of the part played by the body in our relationship with nature may re-orient education towards a love of nature: ecophilia.
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