Smith demonstrates how the denial of moral equality between Europeans and non-Europeans resulted from converging philosophical and scientific developments, including a declining belief in human nature's universality and the rise of biological classification. The racial typing of human beings grew from the need to understand humanity within an all-encompassing system of nature, alongside plants, minerals, primates, and other animals. While racial difference as seen through science did not arise in order to justify the enslavement of people, it became a rationalization and buttress for the practices of trans-Atlantic slavery. From the work of François Bernier to G. W. Leibniz, Immanuel Kant, and others, Smith delves into philosophy's part in the legacy and damages of modern racism.
With a broad narrative stretching over two centuries, Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference takes a critical historical look at how the racial categories that we divide ourselves into came into being.
The book is divided into sections that address three broad subjects: the relationship between Bruno and the new science, the history of his reception in English culture, and the principal characteristics of his natural philosophy. A final essay examines why this advocate of a "tranquil universal philosophy" ended up being burned at the stake as a heretic by the Roman Inquisition. While the essays take many different approaches, they are united by a number of assumptions: that, although well versed in magic, Bruno cannot be defined primarily as a Renaissance Magus; that his aim was to articulate a new philosophy of nature; and that his thought, while based on ancient and medieval sources, represented a radical rupture with the philosophical schools of the past, helping forge a path toward a new modernity.
Coverage first offers a critical discussion on the different versions of L'Homme, including the Latin, French, and English translations and the 1664 editions. Next, the authors examine the early reception of the work, from the connection of L'Homme to early-modern Dutch Cartesianism to Nicolas Steno's criticism of the work and how Descartes' clock analogy is used to defend two different conceptions of the articulation between anatomical observations and functional hypotheses.
The book then goes on to explore L'Homme and early-modern anthropology as well as the how the work has been understood and incorporated into the works of scientists, physicians, and philosophers over the last 150 years.
Overall, readers will discover how the trend over the last few decades to understand human cognition in neuro-physiological terms can be seen to be not something unprecedented, but rather a revival of a way of dealing with these fundamental questions that was pioneered by Descartes.
The editor’s introductions to each section provide a broader perspective informed by contemporary research in each area, including related topics. Each introduction furnishes proposals, including thematic bibliographies, for innovative research questions and projects in the classroom and in the field.
What would the global history of philosophy look like if it were told not as a story of ideas but as a series of job descriptions—ones that might have been used to fill the position of philosopher at different times and places over the past 2,500 years? The Philosopher does just that, providing a new way of looking at the history of philosophy by bringing to life six kinds of figures who have occupied the role of philosopher in a wide range of societies around the world over the millennia—the Natural Philosopher, the Sage, the Gadfly, the Ascetic, the Mandarin, and the Courtier. The result is at once an unconventional introduction to the global history of philosophy and an original exploration of what philosophy has been—and perhaps could be again.
By uncovering forgotten or neglected philosophical job descriptions, the book reveals that philosophy is a universal activity, much broader—and more gender inclusive—than we normally think today. In doing so, The Philosopher challenges us to reconsider our idea of what philosophers can do and what counts as philosophy.
Do tough times create tougher people? Can humanity handle the power of its weapons without destroying itself? Will human technology or capabilities ever peak or regress? No one knows the answers to such questions, but no one asks them in a more interesting way than Dan Carlin.
In The End is Always Near, Dan Carlin looks at questions and historical events that force us to consider what sounds like fantasy; that we might suffer the same fate that all previous eras did. Will our world ever become a ruin for future archaeologists to dig up and explore? The questions themselves are both philosophical and like something out of The Twilight Zone.
Combining his trademark mix of storytelling, history and weirdness Dan Carlin connects the past and future in fascinating and colorful ways. At the same time the questions he asks us to consider involve the most important issue imaginable: human survival. From the collapse of the Bronze Age to the challenges of the nuclear era the issue has hung over humanity like a persistent Sword of Damocles.
Inspired by his podcast, The End is Always Near challenges the way we look at the past and ourselves. In this absorbing compendium, Carlin embarks on a whole new set of stories and major cliffhangers that will keep readers enthralled. Idiosyncratic and erudite, offbeat yet profound, The End is Always Near examines issues that are rarely presented, and makes the past immediately relevant to our very turbulent present.
Presenting the clearest picture yet of the scope of Leibniz's theoretical interest in the life sciences, Divine Machines takes seriously the philosopher's own repeated claims that the world must be understood in fundamentally biological terms. Here Smith reveals a thinker who was immersed in the sciences of life, and looked to the living world for answers to vexing metaphysical problems. He casts Leibniz's philosophy in an entirely new light, demonstrating how it radically departed from the prevailing models of mechanical philosophy and had an enduring influence on the history and development of the life sciences. Along the way, Smith provides a fascinating glimpse into early modern debates about the nature and origins of organic life, and into how philosophers such as Leibniz engaged with the scientific dilemmas of their era.
It’s a story we can’t stop telling ourselves. Once, humans were benighted by superstition and irrationality, but then the Greeks invented reason. Later, the Enlightenment enshrined rationality as the supreme value. Discovering that reason is the defining feature of our species, we named ourselves the “rational animal.” But is this flattering story itself rational? In this sweeping account of irrationality from antiquity to today—from the fifth-century BC murder of Hippasus for revealing the existence of irrational numbers to the rise of Twitter mobs and the election of Donald Trump—Justin Smith says the evidence suggests the opposite. From sex and music to religion and war, irrationality makes up the greater part of human life and history.
Rich and ambitious, Irrationality ranges across philosophy, politics, and current events. Challenging conventional thinking about logic, natural reason, dreams, art and science, pseudoscience, the Enlightenment, the internet, jokes and lies, and death, the book shows how history reveals that any triumph of reason is temporary and reversible, and that rational schemes, notably including many from Silicon Valley, often result in their polar opposite. The problem is that the rational gives birth to the irrational and vice versa in an endless cycle, and any effort to permanently set things in order sooner or later ends in an explosion of unreason. Because of this, it is irrational to try to eliminate irrationality. For better or worse, it is an ineradicable feature of life.
Illuminating unreason at a moment when the world appears to have gone mad again, Irrationality is fascinating, provocative, and timely.