Slavery and Capitalism in America

I’m about halfway through The Half has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (2014) by Edward Baptist. Baptist’s book embeds an economic history of post-revolutionary America in the personal stories of slaves. He brings into question the still dominant version of American history, “the half that has ever been told,” which argues that slavery…

The Ecology of Capitalism

This post is largely in response to this interview with the ecological Marxist John Bellamy Foster. Foster spends most of his time responding to criticisms of his work by Jason W. Moore. I haven’t read Moore’s work, so I’m not sure whether the misunderstanding of Latour arose with him or with Foster’s characterization of the latters “constructionism”…

CIIS Commencement Speech 5/22

Thank you, President Subbiondo. Thanks also to our Academic Vice President Judie Wexler, to our honorary degree recipients Angela Davis and Josef Brinckmann, and to all CIIS faculty and staff for the work you have done to make this day possible for me and for my fellow graduates. I am a philosopher, which is not to…

In defense of other possibilities…

I always try to ration myself early in the month since I only get 10 free articles, but Charles Blow’s op-ed in the New York Times this morning–“A Trump-Sanders Coalition? Nah”–seemed worth the read. Blow rightly points out why Trump’s campaign manager is sorely mistaken about the prospects of winning over Bernie’s supporters in the general…

A White Guy Talking About Race

Figured I should start talking about this stuff. Please join me. Enlighten me. Endarken me. Whatever you feel needs to be added, corrected, etc. We just really need to start talking about it… A response to me by the YouTube user Rorschach Romanov: And my response to him:

Whitehead’s Non-Modern Philosophy: Cosmos and Polis in the Pluriverse (draft)

The following was an early draft of a talk I gave in my own track at the Whitehead/Ecological Civilization conference in Claremont, CA. For video of the actual talk, click HERE.  This track has been given the task of re-imagining late modernity, and in particular, of re-imagining what John Cobb has called late modernity’s reductive monism. In my…

War of the Worlds: Cosmos and Polis in the Pluriverse

What is reality? Seasoned metaphysicians will be quick to point out that the phrasing of this question already assumes too much. The copula “is” implies that reality is a species of being or existence. Does this mean reality excludes nonbeing, nonexistence? That, in other words, reality includes only what is already actual and nothing of…

The Religion of Reason (with Steven Pinker and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein)

Hard to disagree with too much of what Pinker and Goldstein say about Reason. Yay Reason, right?! They also make a very persuasive case for (neo)liberal capitalism. Pinker’s bit about empathy was a nice reprieve, but Goldstein shut him up fast by recounting Reason’s historical march toward the Good. In the end, I prefer Schelling’s, Hegel’s,…

Ontologies of Work (capitalism) and Play (panpsychism)

Now that the Pluralism Wars have died down, each camp having dug itself in for the winter, maybe its time to change the subject. Let’s talk about David Graeber’s recent article in The Baffler “What’s the Point if We Can’t Have Fun?” He makes the radical (or not so radical?) move of taking play seriously, not only…

Alf Hornborg on Ecology, Economy, and Technology

A few excerpts from professor of human ecology Alf Hornborg‘s book The Power of the Machine: Global Inequalities of Economy, Technology, and Environment (2001). “We seem to have difficulties understanding exactly in which sense human ideas and social relations intervene in the material realities of the biosphere. Rather than continuing to appraoch ‘knowledge’ from the Cartesian…