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!

Are we awake now?

Since election day a week ago, people have been protesting every night in the Bay Area and across the United States. I went to the demonstration yesterday, and want to share some impressions and photos. This family-friendly event on Sunday...

/ November 14, 2016

God bless America!

You wake up and realize that a dystopian vision has become reality: America just became Trump University. There is no termination clause in the contract, and the sale is final. What went wrong? Hillary won in terms of absolute numbers,...

/ November 12, 2016

On Cicero

I recently added some texts from the ancient Roman politician and philosopher Cicero (106 – 43 BC) to this blog. Cicero rose to the highest political offices in Rome, and he defended the Roman Republic, a limited version of democracy...

/ October 31, 2016

Sunset over the Bay Area

“To leave out beautiful sunsets is the secret of good taste.” (Dejan Stojanovic.) Well, occasionally we fail. A spontaneous walk in the evening, without much expectation, and suddenly, there it was, this sunset over the Bay Area, viewed from Tilden Park....

/ October 23, 2016

Pacific Gardens

This is part two of my travel report through the Pacific Northwest. One of my goals for this trip was to visit several gardens. The climate along the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington is mediterranean: warm, sunny, with mild winters,...

/ October 12, 2016

Landscapes in the Pacific Northwest

It’s about a thousand miles to drive on Highway 1 from San Francisco to Port Angeles, the northern-most town that connects the US and Canada. The drive along the ocean is beautiful, through vast coastal landscapes and ancient forests. One can find some of the tallest and...

/ October 8, 2016

Cool Number Tricks

Let’s admit it, most of us are intellectually lazy, and thinking is a strange and hard activity, because it requires effort. Even philosophy, the prime discipline devoted to thinking, mostly circulates the ideas of other people, and has some similarity to journalism. Real thinking...

/ September 13, 2016

Eastern Europe

I spent some time during the summer of 2015 traveling through Eastern Europe. It has changed dramatically since 1991, the year in which the Sowjet Union dissolved and the Warsaw Pact ended. Former Czechoslovakia became two countries, and former Yugoslavia fragmented in 1991/1992 into...

/ August 16, 2016

Europe: What now?

When I grew up in West Germany in the 70’s and 80’s, I learned French in High School, and I participated in a student exchange program that sent us young Germans to live during the Summer months with French families,...

/ July 11, 2016

Book Recommendations 2016

The book list for 2016 reflects my interest in environmental studies, and my return to psychotherapy. The field of political philosophy is also in a state of transition, with emerging global theories and a re-examination of the idea of nation states....

/ June 11, 2016

Sperm Whales

The New York Times just ran an article about Sperm Whales, and their modes of communication. They seem to have an elaborate language that we don’t understand yet. The sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales and the...

/ April 17, 2016

Napa Valley

How does a landscape cultivate mildness? You can find out if you go to the Napa Valley in California during spring. It is a composition of vineyards, small towns, wineries, forests and low mountain ranges that slowly narrow until you reach Calistoga. You will find some of...

/ March 26, 2016

Nietzsche: A look back.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is one of the most important philosophers of the last 200 years. He foresaw the downfall of Europe, even though he died in 1900, and he influenced many thinkers in the 20th century. He is commonly seen as...

/ February 14, 2016