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

Nature by Numbers

Below there is  an interesting video inspired by numbers, geometry and nature, created by Cristóbal Vila. Nature looks complex, but the underlying principles are simple, for instance the Fibonacci Series of numbers.  The natural beauty and complexity we see all...

/ March 3, 2012

Mathematical Infinity

"There are two approaches to mathematical infinity. It can be seen as defining limiting cases that can never be realized or as existing in some philosophical sense. These mathematical approaches parallel approaches to meaning and value that I call absolutist...

/ February 12, 2012

Rock-Art in Berkeley, California

I went for a walk today in Berkeley, at a place near the ocean.It’s a wild place, full of rocks, bushes, and trash. Sometimes, some artists are visiting. They come here and turn the wilderness into something beautiful. Suddenly, stones...

/ January 30, 2012

Chinese Dynasties

I learned almost nothing about Chinese history when I went to school in Germany. In our times, it is really important to learn global history, and not just the history of our own countries or continents. The following short overview...

/ December 24, 2011

Prime numbers in nature

I found this on Wikipedia, reading about prime numbers: “Inevitably, some of the numbers that occur in nature are prime. There are, however, relatively few examples of numbers that appear in nature because they are prime. One example of the...

/ November 23, 2011

What is thinking? – Heidegger

"We come to know what it means to think when we ourselves try to think. If the attempt is to be successful, we must be ready to learn thinking. As soon as we allow ourselves to become involved in such...

/ November 12, 2011