The longstanding divide between intellectual history and the history of science may have outlived its usefulness. Revising Dominick LaCapra’s concept of the “worklike,” Gabel suggests that renewed attention to scientific texts could yield novel interpretations of key moments in intellectual history. To this end, Gabel offers a reading of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Nature Lectures based on a close analysis of Merleau-Ponty’s engagement with biology. She argues that even after Merleau-Ponty renounced both Marxism and humanism, he remained committed to developing a philosophy of history. In the context of the ongoing evolutionary synthesis in the natural sciences, Merleau-Ponty saw in biology a potential way around the determinism that characterized historical materialism. Through embryology, Merleau-Ponty began to develop what Gabel calls a phenomenological natural history, an account of causality and contingency rooted in the materiality of life.