Thomas Moynihan

Thomas Moynihan focuses on intellectual history and existential risk, aiming to supply a historically reflective dimension to the emerging field of "future studies.”

  • X-Risk

    X-Risk

    How Humanity Discovered Its Own Extinction

    Thomas Moynihan

    How humanity came to contemplate its possible extinction.

    From forecasts of disastrous climate change to prophecies of evil AI superintelligences and the impending perils of genome editing, our species is increasingly concerned with the prospects of its own extinction. With humanity's future on this planet seeming more insecure by the day, in the twenty-first century, existential risk has become the object of a growing field of serious scientific inquiry. But, as Thomas Moynihan shows in X-Risk, this preoccupation is not exclusive to the post-atomic age of global warming and synthetic biology. Our growing concern with human extinction itself has a history.

    Tracing this untold story, Moynihan revisits the pioneers who first contemplated the possibility of human extinction and stages the historical drama of this momentous discovery. He shows how, far from being a secular reprise of religious prophecies of apocalypse, existential risk is a thoroughly modern idea, made possible by the burgeoning sciences and philosophical tumult of the Enlightenment era. In recollecting how we first came to care for our extinction, Moynihan reveals how today's attempts to measure and mitigate existential threats are the continuation of a project initiated over two centuries ago, which concerns the very vocation of the human as a rational, responsible, and future-oriented being.

    • Paperback $22.95
  • Spinal Catastrophism

    Spinal Catastrophism

    A Secret History

    Thomas Moynihan

    The historical continuity of spinal catastrophism, traced across multiform encounters between philosophy, psychology, biology, and geology.

    Drawing on cryptic intimations in the work of J. G. Ballard, Georges Bataille, William Burroughs, André Leroi-Gourhan, Elaine Morgan, and Friedrich Nietzsche, in the late twentieth century Daniel Barker formulated the axioms of spinal catastrophism: If human morphology, upright posture, and the possibility of language are the ramified accidents of natural history, then psychic ailments are ultimately afflictions of the spine, which itself is a scale model of biogenetic trauma, a portable map of the catastrophic events that shaped that atrocity exhibition of evolutionary traumata, the sick orthograde talking mammal.

    Tracing its provenance through the biological notions of phylogeny and “organic memory” that fueled early psychoanalysis, back into idealism, nature philosophy, and romanticism, and across multiform encounters between philosophy, psychology, biology, and geology, Thomas Moynihan reveals the historical continuity of spinal catastrophism. From psychoanalysis and myth to geology and neuroanatomy, from bioanalysis to chronopathy, from spinal colonies of proto-minds to the retroparasitism of the CNS, from “railway spine” to Elizabeth Taylor's lost gill-slits, this extravagantly comprehensive philosophical adventure uses the spinal cord as a guiding thread to rediscover forgotten pathways in modern thought. Moynihan demonstrates that, far from being an fanciful notion rendered obsolete by advances in biology, spinal catastrophism dramatizes fundamental philosophical problematics of time, identity, continuity, and the transcendental that remain central to any attempt to reconcile human experience with natural history.

    • Paperback $17.95

Contributor

  • Hydroplutonic Kernow

    Hydroplutonic Kernow

    Robin Mackay

    A geophilosophical odyssey through the remains of Cornwall's industrial past offers a historical portrait of geotrauma in action.

    This unique document provides a pioneering case study in post-“site-specific” geophilosophy. Based on a weird field trip into Cornwall's mining heartlands with geologists, philosophers, and ecologists as guides, Hydroplutonic Kernow drills down through nature, industry, and cultural capital to site the local within the global, unfolding the telluric plots that manipulated populations and devastated the landscape during the industrial age. In doing so, it provides a historical portrait of geotrauma in action.

    This geophilosophical odyssey takes us through the remains of the region's industrial past, reading them through the twisted prism of the geocosmic theory of trauma espoused by legendary “cryptographer” Dr. Daniel Barker and further developed by Iranian philosopher Reza Negarestani, and uncovering the deep plot of the Hydroplutonic Conspiracy, the collusion between water and the depths of the earth.

    Along with full documentation of the trip, the book also contains exegetical materials including an essay by Reza Negarestani, a poem by Jake Chapman, a preface by Caitlin DeSilvey, and an in-depth interview with Mining Engineer Steve Tarrant.

    • Paperback $19.95