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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Buddhism has its “Two Truths” and its “Three Truths“: the “Two” were made famous by Indian philosopher Nagarjuna; the “Three” a little less famous by Chinese philosopher Zhiyi. About a year ago, I offered up four perspectives on mortality, and here I want to make the case that they could be seen as a kind […]

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Theory has a mobile army of metaphors that account for its own importance. The vanguardist notion of a “cutting edge” has long served as a paradigmatic metaphor for theoretical innovation, and it’s one I take issue with in my article “Is the Post- in Posthuman the Post- in Postmodern? Or What Can the Human Be?,” […]

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Reading Nigel Clark and Bron Szerszynski’s just published Planetary Social Thought: The Anthropocene Challenge to the Social Sciences is helping me think through what I see as perhaps the key philosophical debate of the current time. That debate is over the “ontological politics” of the difference between science in its theory and practice — including […]

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I had been avoiding the Whitehead Research Project‘s monthly reading groups because of conflicts with other scheduled activities, but today I joined. The reading was a short, unpublished manuscript somewhat misleadingly titled “Freedom and Order,” as it’s mostly about humor, wit, and imagination. Now I understand why I’ve always been put off by, and a […]

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In my writing about media, I’ve been using the words “ecology” and “ecosystem” fairly liberally. In a new piece called “The Limitations of the ‘New Ecosystem’ Metaphor,” The Columbia Journalism Review’s Lauren Harris argues that this metaphor is misguided. She interviews media scholar Anthony Nadler, who has claims that the metaphor “naturaliz[es] current trends in the diffusion and development of news practices.” Its use “suggests ‘spontaneous, self-ordering principles’ in the news market obscuring all the social, political, and economic decisions that undergird the status quo.”

I want to respond to that argument here by presenting the case that “ecology” is not a metaphor imported from biology, but that it’s more like the other way around: “media ecology” is a description of the world of media as much as it is a description of the world of biology. Both media and biology are constituted by the actions and processes of their constituents. In this sense, it is not a metaphor but a way of seeing, and it’s more important to ensure we understand what it is we are looking at.

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My course “Self-Cultivation and Spiritual Practice” starts from the premise that philosophy — at least as it has existed outside of today’s analytical philosophy departments — has generally been about how to live, and that the best philosophers around the world have offered detailed instructions on how to get better at that. Historian of philosophy […]

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The study of emotions, particularly within the field of affective neuroscience, is a complex field riven by paradigmatic division. In my book Shadowing the Anthropocene, I proposed a way to engage with one’s experience, including one’s emotional or affective experience, within an “eco-ethico-aesthetic” (or “logo-ethico-aesthetic”) practice that could help us deal with the “Anthropocene predicament.” […]

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It’s wonderful to see that process-relational theory is getting noticed in the study of social-ecological systems. A new article in Ecology and Society, Garcia et al’s “Adopting process-relational perspectives to tackle the challenges of social-ecological systems research,” argues that a process-relational perspective, “which focuses on nonequilibrium dynamics and relations between processes,” can help the field […]

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A very helpful analytical review of the “relational paradigm in sustainability research, practice, and education” has just been published online by Ambio. While it’s limited to a certain selection of key publications, the article, by European sustainabililty researchers Zack Walsh, Jessica Bohme, and Christine Wamsler, covers the terrain of “relational approaches” to ontology, epistemology, and […]

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Peter Brannen’s Atlantic article “The Anthropocene is a Joke” provides a helpful cold shower for those who’ve gotten a little too drunk on the concept of the Anthropocene. The entire article is worth reading. Here are a few snippets:

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I keep trying to rephrase the second piece of the “double insight” — or two ontological “twists” — around which the philosophical argument of Shadowing the Anthropocene (and Ecologies of the Moving Image) is woven. The first insight is the process-relational one, which is at the core of both A. N. Whitehead’s metaphysics and many variations […]

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A Guardian article making the rounds on social media argues that the mindfulness movement has become “the new capitalist spirituality” — “magical thinking on steroids,” which instead of overturning the “neoliberal order,” now “only serves to reinforce its destructive logic.” This “McMindfulness,” as Ronald Purser calls it, has been “stripped of the teachings on ethics […]

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