Provoked discussion: “A NeoPresocratic Manifesto”

Posted on Sep 30, 2013 in Provocations | 0 comments


J. Baird Callicott

Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies, University of North Texas, USA

This provocation was published in Volume 2, 2013.

Ancient Greek philosophy begins with natural philosophy (the Milesians, Heraclitus, Empedocles, Anaxagoras), followed after about a century by a focus on moral philosophy (Socrates and the sophists). The pattern is repeated in the Modern period: first natural philosophy re-emerged after the Dark and Middle Ages (Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, Newton) followed by a correlative revolution in moral philosophy (Hobbes, Hume, Kant). In particular, moral ontology (externally related individuals) reflected the ontology of physics (externally related atoms). Individuals are, in effect, social atoms. Curiously, 20th-century philosophy has largely turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the vast philosophical implications of the second scientific revolution in 20th-century science, among them a correlative moral ontology of internal relations and social wholes. The environmental turn in the humanities, grounded in ecology and evolutionary biology, is a harbinger of the re-orientation of philosophy to the revolutionary ideas in the sciences and foreshadows an emerging NeoPresocratic revival in 21st-century philosophy.

Published Commentary

Tom Greaves: Environmental Arts as First Philosophy: This too a NeoPresocratic Manifesto
(Volume 3, 2013)
J. Baird Callicott: Reply to Thomas Greaves
(Forthcoming Commentary)

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