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 by “nature,” and how do we relate to the nature around us, as well as to our own nature? I created this website to bring together different interests, reflect on my own traditions, and pursue these big questions. I am a psychotherapist, and I teach philosophy in the Bay Area of San Francisco. I grew up in Bavaria, Germany.

Jurgen Braungardt on November 22, 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 our evolutionary history may help clarify our thinking about contemporary problems that require collective decisions.

Vida Pavesich on November 19, 2018

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 Welcome!

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

World Urbanization Trends

"The city allows you to become yourself by making a stranger of you." We are experiencing a historical transition - human civilization will more and more coalesce into very large urban centers. Cities are the manifestation of the cultural, economic...

/ April 21, 2017

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...

/ March 23, 2017

Flowers and Art

It is spring in California, and we had plenty of rain through the winter. Everything is in bloom, and the De Young Museum uses this abundance to organize its annual “Bouquets to Art” exhibition. The idea is simple, and it...

/ March 21, 2017

The Execution of Damiens

The use of torture as a form of punishment was commonplace in European societies into the early 19th century. Today, we are outraged by mass killings, genocide, and ISIS beheadings, but extreme violence has always been there; it runs deep...

/ February 23, 2017

Shrump I: Post-Democracy in America?

Before I get started, let’s introduce a new term that helps us to appreciate the differences between words, their meaning, and reality itself. You may wonder what a “shrump” is. If you google it you will find that the definition is still...

/ January 25, 2017

2017 – The Search for Simplicity

2016 was a strange year: more refugees, Brexit, the US Election disaster, a coup d’état by the Government in Turkey, the destruction of Aleppo, Russian and Chinese hacking, the mainstream emergence of artificial intelligence, and self-driving cars are hitting the...

/ January 3, 2017