Speculative Naturalism: A Manifesto

Cosmos and History 10 (2):300-323 (2014)
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The turn to analytic philosophy in Anglophone countries, which is still underway and is spreading elsewhere, 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’ when it abjures 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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