Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 10, No 2 (2014)

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Speculative Naturalism: A Manifesto

Arran Gare


The turn to analytic philosophy, which is still underway, in its British and American forms has generally involved a retreat from ‘synoptic' thinking and an almost complete withdrawal from ‘synthetic' thinking, the creative thinking that in the past has been the source of the greatest contributions of philosophy to science, the humanities and civilization. Analytic philosophy's ‘naturalistic turn' led by Willard van Ormond Quine was really a capitulation of philosophy to mainstream reductionist science. So-called ‘continental philosophy', by abjuring naturalism, offers no real challenge to this. This paper attempts to recover a much more powerful challenge to such analytic philosophy and reductionist science, a philosophy which is naturalist but values synopsis and synthesis along with analysis: speculative naturalism. As such, this is presented as a manifesto not only for philosophy, but for science and the humanities. As Mikhail Epstein argued, the practical outcome of the humanities is the transformation of culture. To transform culture is to transform ourselves, our society and our relationship to each other and to nature.

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