Now Available: For a New Naturalism, edited by Arran Gare and Wayne Hudson

Telos Investigations is a new book series that collects papers delivered at Telos-Paul Piccone Institute conferences. The first volume in the series, For a New Naturalism, edited by Arran Gare and Wayne Hudson, is now available for purchase in our online store. Save 20% on the list price by using the coupon code BOOKS20 during the checkout process.

Western civilization has been afflicted by a divide between the sciences and the humanities, a divide that has been harmful to both. The first volume in our new Telos Investigations series, For A New Naturalism elaborates the implications of recent developments in natural philosophy that challenge both Cartesian dualism and reductionism. The contributors to this volume write from a variety of political, philosophical, and scientific standpoints. They all agree, however, that a civilization based on reductionist naturalism, with its impoverished understanding of both human life and the universe, is failing to generate the political and social thought we need. And they all support the need for a wider naturalism than the objectivating naturalism that emerged in seventeenth-century Europe. In addressing the contested status of naturalism in contemporary philosophy, the contributions to this volume question both prevailing assumptions about nature and assumptions about what is knowledge. They argue for a new alliance between science and the humanities, and spell out some of the implications of this challenge for philosophy, society, and religion.

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“Then and Now,” and Now

For many today, Claude Lefort is a thinker known mainly by association, someone whose work emerges where others are asked to situate their projects relative to his thinking of the political. He is a prominent, if not central, figure for the more post-structuralist thinkers of radical democracy. Lefort’s sense of democracy—as that form of society where the place of power is empty—is vital to those projects that would likewise tie democracy to the symbolic character of power, and to the distinct workings of politics and the political. Interestingly, while debate over the correct translation of le or la politique seems to almost always return to Lefort, it remains the case that for his own part Lefort was never much interested in post-structuralism. For him, the post-structural turn, itself bound up with the legacies of May 1968 and the new knowledge, obfuscated almost as much as it made clear.

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Evaluating Enlightenment: Progressive Critiques of Modernity in Rationalization and Ecology

The following paper was presented at the 2016 Telos Conference, held on January 16–17, 2016, in New York City. For additional details about this and upcoming conferences, please visit the Telos-Paul Piccone Institute website.

What is modernity? First, a period “occasioned by a peculiarly ahistorical view of the world, which is flattened into an eternal present. The world we experience appears to exhaust all possible worlds.” Second, modernity is deeply rooted in the three Kantian principles of Enlightenment: “‘What can know?’ the question of knowledge; of the ‘What should I do?’ which is the question of ethics, and of the ‘What can I hope?'”

The Western modern project is dependent upon both Greek and Hebrew antiquity. In ancient Ionia, Thales of Miletus predicted a solar eclipse, Anaximander predicted the changing of the seasons, Theodorus invented the ruler, the carpenter’s square, and the level, and Hippocrates began accumulating medical knowledge through trial and error. These “pre-Socratic” Ionians were merchants and artisans; they worked with their hands, whereas the Athenians were engaged primarily in contemplation.

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