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The Rationality of Deliberation and Judgment in Ethics

In Re-Reasoning Ethics, Barry Hoffmaster and Cliff Hooker enhance and empower ethics by adopting a non-formal paradigm of rational deliberation as intelligent problem-solving and a complementary non-formal paradigm of ethical deliberation as problem-solving design to promote human flourishing. The non-formal conception of reason produces broader and richer ethical understandings of human situations, not the simple, constrained depictions provided by moral theories and their logical applications in medical ethics and bioethics.

This book sets out from a counterintuitive premise: the “mystical shell” of Hegel’s system proves to be its most “rational kernel.” Hegel’s radicalism is located precisely at the point where his thought seems to regress most. Most current readings try to update Hegel’s thought by pruning back his grandiose claims to “absolute knowing.” Comay and Ruda invert this deflationary gesture by inflating what seems to be most trivial: the absolute is grasped only in the minutiae of its most mundane appearances.

On Jeremy Bentham, the Panopticon, and the Auto-Icon

Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) is best remembered today as the founder of utilitarianism (a philosophy infamously abused by the Victorians) and the conceiver of the Panopticon, the circular prison house in which all prisoners could be seen by an unseen observer—later seized upon by Michel Foucault as the apotheosis of the neoliberal control society.

Some things never disappear—violence, for example. Violence is ubiquitous and incessant but protean, varying its outward form according to the social constellation at hand. In Topology of Violence, the philosopher Byung-Chul Han considers the shift in violence from the visible to the invisible, from the frontal to the viral to the self-inflicted, from brute force to mediated force, from the real to the virtual. Violence, Han tells us, has gone from the negative—explosive, massive, and martial—to the positive, wielded without enmity or domination.

An Investigation into the Varieties and Virtues of Anxiety

In The Anxious Mind, Charlie Kurth offers a philosophical account of anxiety in its various forms, investigating its nature and arguing for its value in agency, virtue, and decision making. Folk wisdom tells us that anxiety is unpleasant and painful, and scholarly research seems to provide empirical and philosophical confirmation of this. But Kurth points to anxiety’s positive effects: enhancing performance, facilitating social interaction, and even contributing to moral thought and action.

Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World

We have all heard that there are no longer any places left on Earth untouched by humans. The significance of this goes beyond statistics documenting melting glaciers and shrinking species counts. It signals a new geological epoch. In The Synthetic Age, Christopher Preston argues that what is most startling about this coming epoch is not only how much impact humans have had but, more important, how much deliberate shaping they will start to do. Emerging technologies promise to give us the power to take over some of Nature’s most basic operations.

An ancient legend identifies Demon, Chance, Love, and Necessity as the four gods who preside over the birth of every human being. We must all pay tribute to these deities and should not try to elude or dupe them. To accept them, Giorgio Agamben suggests, is to live one’s life as an adventure—not in the trivial sense of the term, with lightness and disenchantment, but with the understanding that adventure, as a specific way of being, is the most profound experience in our human existence.

Retraining Subconscious Awareness

This is a book for readers who want to probe more deeply into mindfulness. It goes beyond the casual, once-in-awhile meditation in popular culture, grounding mindfulness in daily practice, Zen teachings, and recent research in neuroscience. In Living Zen Remindfully, James Austin, author of the groundbreaking Zen and the Brain, describes authentic Zen training—the commitment to a process of regular, ongoing daily life practice. This training process enables us to unlearn unfruitful habits, develop more wholesome ones, and lead a more genuinely creative life.

(Did you hear the one about Hegel and negation?)

“A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.”—Ludwig Wittgenstein

The good news is that this book offers an entertaining but enlightening compilation of Žižekisms. Unlike any other book by Slavoj Žižek, this compact arrangement of jokes culled from his writings provides an index to certain philosophical, political, and sexual themes that preoccupy him. Žižek’s Jokes contains the set-ups and punch lines—as well as the offenses and insults—that Žižek is famous for, all in less than 200 pages.

An Optimist's Guide to the Historical Sciences

The “historical sciences”—geology, paleontology, and archaeology—have made extraordinary progress in advancing our understanding of the deep past. How has this been possible, given that the evidence they have to work with offers mere traces of the past? In Rock, Bone, and Ruin, Adrian Currie explains that these scientists are “methodological omnivores,” with a variety of strategies and techniques at their disposal, and that this gives us every reason to be optimistic about their capacity to uncover truths about prehistory.

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