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
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Freud’s View of Religion

Freud believed, more so towards the end of his life, that there is a truth in religion: not the “material truth”, or the truth of the believers, but the “historical truth”, the truth that “exists” in the unconscious as a...

/ February 9, 2016

The Roots of Religion

Thanks to modern science, we now know more about religious history than ever: Scientific archaeology began in the 18th century, and since then excavators have been discovering and interpreting evidence, ranging from tiny goddess figurines carved from mammoth ivory to entire...

/ January 23, 2016

Emmanuel Levinas on Peace

The last entry on Carl Schmitt reflected on the implications of a realpolitik where the sovereign state is necessary to protect us from the hatred that can erupt so easily in human relationships. On one extreme end of this spectrum is...

/ January 16, 2016

Carl Schmitt on Political Power

Carl Schmitt (1888–1985) is one of the most influential conservative political thinkers of the 20th century. His work remains very controversial, but his ideas allow us to think through some of the old problems of political philosophy in a fresh light. What...

/ January 11, 2016

2016 – Accelerating Change.

The geopolitical order has been shifting in 2015: Middle-Eastern refugees are flooding into Europe, and the seasonal cycles of nature show signs of disruption and change that is unpredictable and threatening everywhere in the world. Radical ideologies fight for influence, nationalist sentiments are on...

/ January 3, 2016

Book Recommendations 2015

Books flow through our lives, year after year. What we read defines what we think, and vice versa. Our thinking changes probably more as a result of encountering new ideas and arguments, and less as a result of genuine insight and...

/ December 17, 2015

The Message of Jesus

During the Fall of 2015,  I was teaching a class on mysticism, and the question was raised, what are the central teachings of Jesus? Is Jesus a mystic? What are the ingredients for a genuine Christian life? These questions are important...

/ December 8, 2015

What is Zen?

In his book, , written 1961, Thomas Merton describes the nature and essence of Zen, mostly in the first chapter. He also examines various Christian monastic traditions in order to show us the similarities and differences in the search for mystical experience...

/ November 24, 2015

The Rivers of Europe

The rivers of Europe are the veins that run through European culture and geography. They are the main lines of transportation and commerce, they irrigate and feed the surrounding landscapes, but they also serve as natural borders. European rivers are...

/ October 15, 2015

The Happiness of Fish

The “happiness of fish” refers to a story in the Zhuangzhi, which is a Chinese book (c. 286 BCE), and one of the foundational texts of Taoism. The story consists of a dialog between Chuang Tzu and Hui Tzu, Most...

/ May 31, 2015

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)

Carl Jung was a Swiss psychoanalyst who created a version of psychoanalysis that is still very popular today. His system blends to some degree with New Age thinking and resonates with a popular cultural trend that is fascinated by mythology,...

/ May 24, 2015

What is life?

The study of life is the domain of biology as a natural discipline. Biology examines all living organisms, and focuses on structure, function, growth, evolution, distribution, as well as the taxonomy of life forms. Life itself is hard to define, because...

/ April 27, 2015