Naturalism Reconsidered: Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty

Philosophy Today 56 (1):78-83 (2012)
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Abstract

While naturalism is used in positive senses by the tradition of analytical philosophy, with Ludwig Wittgenstein its best example, and by the tradition of phenomenology, with Maurice Merleau-Ponty its best exemplar, it also has an extremely negative sense on both of these fronts. Hence, both Merleau-Ponty and Wittgenstein in their basic thrusts adamantly reject reductionistic naturalism. Although Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology rejects the naturalism Husserl rejects, he early on found a place for the “truth of naturalism.” In a parallel way, Wittgenstein accepts a certain positive sense of naturalism, while rejecting Quine’s kind of naturalism. It is the aim of this paper to investigate the common ground in the views of Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty regarding the naturalism that they each espouse and that which they each reject.

Author Profiles

Patrick Bourgeois
Loyola University, New Orleans
Robert Greenleaf Brice
Northern Kentucky University

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