Challenges of the Anthropocene

This paper draws on early twentieth-century philosophical anthropology as well as cognitive science and evolutionary anthropology to examine how humans compensated for their biological under-determination by becoming second-natured, empathetic, cooperative, symbol-using creatures. Examining the capacities for cooperation that emerged in our evolutionary history may help clarify our thinking about contemporary problems that require collective decisions.

Vida Pavesich on November 19, 2018

Can Ethics be the First Philosophy?

Emmanuel Levinas is a unique philosopher in the 20th century. He redefines traditional philosophy by radically re-thinking it from the point of view of justice, which in his understanding originates in the encounter with the other. For Aristotle, the "first philosophy" is metaphysics: what is the meaning of the verb "to be." This leads to a whole system of ontology that serves as the background to 2500 years of metaphysical thought. Levinas suggests a radical turn. "This is the question of the meaning of being: not the ontology of the understanding of that extraordinary verb, but the ethics of its justice. The question 'par excellence' or the question of philosophy. Not 'Why being rather than nothing?', but how being justifies itself."

Jurgen Braungardt on March 23, 2017

Existentialism Today

The task of facing one’s life cannot be met by reasoning alone; it cannot be captured in an abstract system. It requires concrete choices and actions of existing individuals in order to make it meaningful. Existentialism is a philosophical approach aimed at understanding human existence from the point of view of the experiencing subject, not from an academic distance. In the words of Søren Kierkegaard: ‘It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backward. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards. And if one thinks about that proposition, it becomes more and more evident that life can never really be understood in time simply because at no particular moment can I find the necessary resting place from which to understand it—backwards.’

Jurgen Braungardt on July 30, 2015

What is characteristic about Human Rights?

Human rights are universal: all human beings have these rights, for no other reason than their humanity and the values attached to humanity; this means that human rights precede and trump considerations of national sovereignty and that national sovereignty, therefore, does not provide a means to escape human rights obligations. They are also moral claims, and therefore they are grounded in morality, not just law. They are necessary for the protection and realization of certain fundamental, basic and universal human values and interests. They are instrumental principles in the sense that we don’t want them for their own sake; they are means for the creation of better life quality and not just goals in themselves.

Jurgen Braungardt on January 28, 2015
Featured Challenges of the Anthropocene

Welcome!

This website brings a philosophical perspective to current events and trends. What are the visions we have for our collective future? How do we balance humanity with technological progress? What is humanity in the first place? What do we mean...

/ November 22, 2018

Book Recommendations 2019

Reading a whole book is not so easy; nevertheless, I am posting a list of interesting books every year. I think that reading books is essential if we want to discover new ideas, concepts, movements, or ways of thinking. Having...

/ August 29, 2019

Political Philosophy Quotes

“From these things it is evident, that the city belongs among the things that exist by nature, and that man is by nature a political animal” (Aristotle, The Politics, 1253a1–3). Authority implies an obedience in which men retain their freedom....

/ April 6, 2019

Heavy-Duty Philosophy Quotes

Who thinks philosophy should be easy to understand? How intelligible is true reality? The following randomly selected quotes demonstrate how complicated philosophical language can be. Language is deeply woven into the thought that reflects on reality, which leads to intricate...

/ February 4, 2019

Wisdom Crackers

You can find deep insight in strange places. The following quotes are randomly collected from various traditions; if you prefer Asian wisdom, I suggest you check out this collection of Chinese proverbs. I like short sentences that are easy to...

/ January 22, 2019

Scientific Assumptions

For a long time, science has operated on the assumption that nature is ruled by causality. What this means, however, is by no means clear to philosophers, and has become a major philosophical debate during the 20th century. Wittgenstein is...

/ January 19, 2019

2019: How do you define Revolution?

Time to rethink an old concept! Individual events, like elections, are just markers, often very symbolic, signifying the underlying transformative flow in the global society. Everything is increasingly interconnected: financial markets, population trends, the environment, modes of production and innovation,...

/ January 6, 2019

Holidays in the Bay Area

The holiday season starts with Thanksgiving (end of November) and lasts throughout December. It includes Hannukah,  the Winter solstice, Kwanzaa, Christmas, as well as a few other memorable events, like our tribute to consumerism, Black Friday. This year was extreme: The...

/ December 23, 2018

Challenges of the Anthropocene

This paper draws on early twentieth-century philosophical anthropology as well as cognitive science and evolutionary anthropology to examine how humans compensated for their biological under-determination by becoming second-natured, empathetic, cooperative, symbol-using creatures. Examining the capacities for cooperation that emerged in...

/ November 19, 2018

2018: Trouble Ahead

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, remains a voice of hope for the world. He issued a grim warning at the end of 2017: “The globe is on red alert following a year marked by deepening conflicts and new dangers.” “When...

/ January 4, 2018

Madness and Civilization, Revisited

“For the madness of men is a divine spectacle: In fact, could one make observations from the Moon, as did Menippus, considering the numberless agitations of the Earth, one would think one saw a swarm of flies or gnats fighting...

/ December 9, 2017

The History of South East Asia

Southeast Asia is an extremely diverse region on Earth. It consists of many large and small ecological areas. It has a staggering variety of economic, social, and cultural niches. Hundreds of ethnic groups and languages coexist in the space between...

/ October 15, 2017

South East Asia

I became interested in South East Asia in recent years, and I traveled through the region during the summer of 2017. I live in the Bay Area of California,  which is increasingly influenced not only by China, but also by...

/ October 9, 2017

Book Recommendations 2017

Here are my book suggestions for 2017. There is a little bit of everything, and the selection is purely subjective. Some of the books are older, but have lasting value (for instance “Psychopathology and Politics.”) The books about environmental problems...

/ May 20, 2017