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Title page for ETD etd-02282018-100925

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Dean, Dorothy Chappell
URN etd-02282018-100925
Title A New Anthropology for Ecotheology: Rethinking the Human in the World with Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Flesh
Degree PhD
Department Religion
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Ellen Armour Committee Chair
Kelly Oliver Committee Member
Laurel Schneider Committee Member
Paul Dehart Committee Member
  • schleiermacher
  • nonexceptionalism
  • exceptionalism
  • affect
  • environmental ethics
  • experience
  • inscendence
  • apophatic anthropology
  • chiasm
  • radical theology
  • mcfague
  • anthropocene
  • ecotheology
  • ecofeminism
Date of Defense 2017-12-11
Availability restricted
This dissertation constructs a theological anthropology for ecofeminist theology. In spite of their insistence that human beings need to feel “at home on the earth,” ecofeminists have not developed a theological anthropology that explicitly counteracts human exceptionalism. Without such an anthropology, the distancing conceptions of the human being that contributed to the ecological crisis are not fully challenged. I propose a conscious turn to a focus on matter as a means by which ecofeminist theology can achieve nonexceptionalist anthropology. I draw from Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of visible and invisible “flesh” to construct a theological anthropology that accounts not only for human bodies but also for human cognition and experiences of transcendence in a way that does not differentiate us absolutely from the material world. Specifically, I use Merleau-Ponty’s figure of the chiasm to construct an “apophatic anthropology” in which the boundary between self and world is fundamentally indeterminate. I argue that this anthropology is more conducive to an ecologically sound relationship with the world because it cultivates a mode of seeing ourselves as entirely continuous with material reality and enables us to live into our embodied interconnection.
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