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.

Continue reading →

Telos 179 (Summer 2017): A New Regime?

Telos 179 (Summer 2017) is now available for purchase in our store.

When the historian Ken Burns spoke at the Stanford University commencement last June, he delivered an exceptionally political address, including an attack on what he labeled the “Vichy Republicans.” Those Republican leaders who had not distanced themselves from candidate Trump, so Burns, were the equivalent of the Vichy French who collaborated with Hitler. That master metaphor, comparing 2016 to 1933, has continued into the new administration, with the anti-Trump camp labeling itself as “the resistance.” Despite Burns’s historiographical authority, one might question the validity of the underlying equation. No doubt the policies of the Trump administration are more conservative than those of Obama—hardly surprising—but the paradigms of the totalitarianism of the twentieth century are not necessarily the most adequate theoretical tools to analyze early twenty-first-century political phenomena. As emotionally satisfying as it may be for some to try to relive battles of earlier decades, Critical Theory ought to try to do better. We may very well be entering a different political era, a new regime, and not only in the United States. Can we describe it more effectively?

Continue reading →

Telos 177 (Winter 2016): Rethinking Nature in the Anthropocene

Telos 177 (Winter 2016) is now available for purchase in our store.

While the term Anthropocene was used in the USSR already in the 1960s to refer to the late Quaternary era, it rose to prominence more recently when introduced by Eugene F. Stoermer and Paul J. Crutzen. As the very word indicates, this is an epoch when humanity has taken center stage in the sense that its activities now have a major, global, and lethal impact. The shadow of human-caused global destruction and mass death haunts this epoch, and indeed, humanity’s newly acquired capacity for devastation is one of the Anthropocene’s most marked traits. While mass extinctions are hardly new phenomena and while the specter of the extinction of humanity due to some sudden catastrophe was there even before human beings were aware of it in scientific terms, the actual capacity of humanity to extinguish itself along with a large swath of other species on the planet is new, and the stakes of human action are higher.

Continue reading →

The Critique of Philosophical Naturalism

Given the rich and diverse history in the discipline of philosophy, many a practicing philosopher might justifiably remark that insightful philosophical inquiry must withstand the test of time. Though “The Collapse of Philosophical Naturalism” was published in Telos in 1969, many of its insights remain highly relevant to conversations that continue in philosophical and sociopolitical circles today. Dale Riepe issues a damning critique, examining four at once distinct and kindred flaws in philosophical naturalism.

Continue reading →

Rethinking Scientific Hermeneutics with Herbert Marcuse

As an occasional feature on TELOSscope, we highlight a past Telos article whose critical insights continue to illuminate our thinking and challenge our assumptions. Today, Katherine McGinity looks at Dimitri Ginev’s “The Erotic Attitude Toward Nature and Cognitive Existentialism” from Telos 152 (Fall 2010).

Dimitri Ginev’s “The Erotic Attitude Toward Nature and Cognitive Existentialism” seeks to uncover ways in which Herbert Marcuse’s call for a “new science” could be achieved in current scientific research. Marcuse’s ideas are committed to an “erotic” attitude toward nature that moves away from the technological rationality that drives scientific research. Marcuse posits that engaging in an erotic attitude toward nature would allow natural entities to “be what they are” and reveal their inherent aesthetic qualities. According to Marcuse, this dramatic shift in scientific research would change essentialist thinking about science and its norms of objectivity. Ginev shares Marcuse’s feeling that current scientific research methods are problematic in their reductive approach to nature as something that can be controlled and manipulated. However, Ginev points out that attempting to dismantle the subjective-objective structure of modern science proves difficult based solely in Marcuse’s outline.

Continue reading →

Morgenthau, Science, and Tragedy

Mark Chou’s “Morgenthau, the Tragic: On Tragedy and the Transition from Scientific Man to Politics Among Nations” appears in Telos 157 (Winter 2011). Read the full version online at the TELOS Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue here.

When Hans J. Morgenthau first penned Scientific Man vs. Power Politics, it was his scorn of modern science or “dogmatic scientism,” as he put it, that spoke most loudly. But with the publication of Politics Among Nations several years later, his concerns had shifted, as he set about to present a rational theory of international politics. In a matter of only two years, or so it seemed, Morgenthau’s tune had changed—from a clear denunciation of science to the espousal of a nascent science of International Relations. Why did Morgenthau so vehemently decry dogmatic scientism and all that it embodied in Scientific Man, only to establish a theory of international politics that would eventually inspire the “science” of International Relations? The answer, at least the one that this article entertains, was tragedy. Using the lens of tragedy, which Morgenthau first embraced in Scientific Man, this article offers a narrative of the seemingly paradoxical transition that occurs between Scientific Man and Politics Among Nations.

Continue reading →