A peer-reviewed, open-access journal of natural and social philosophy. It serves those who see philosophy's vocation in questioning and challenging prevailing assumptions about ourselves and our place in the world, developing new ways of thinking about physical existence, life, humanity and society, so helping to create the future insofar as thought affects the issue. Philosophy so conceived is not exclusively identified with the work of professional philosophers, and the journal welcomes contributions from philosophically oriented thinkers from all disciplines.

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The Globethics.net library contains articles of Cosmos and History as of vol. 1, (2005) to current.

Recent Submissions

  • Translation as Aesthetic Resistance: Paratranslating Walter Benjamin

    University of Vigo (Galicia, Spain); Burghard Baltrusch (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2010-12-20)
    This essay is a brief study of translation as a practice of aesthetic resistance seen from a historical and philosophical perspective. Translation is perceived as the process of transition and negotiation within the ‘third space’ between various different hybrid cultural contexts and their discursive constraints, and referred to as ‘paratranslation’. It summarises the first attempts to think of translation as an almost ‘holistic’ paradigm and the aesthetics of intervention from Romantic philosophy onwards. It attempts to show how Walter Benjamin’s master narrative, the utopia of ‘pure language’, encourages continuous resistance to the totalitarianism of the idea of the ‘original’, to aesthetics (within the sense of the perception of the real) and to dominant discourses. It subsequently defines the idea of ‘progress’, which considers translation as aesthetic resistance, as a process of construction in constant deconstruction. It concludes by exemplifying the notion of translation as a paradigm of intervention in modernity with a brief analysis of the transcreation performed by Erin Mouré on Fernando Pessoa/Alberto Caeiro’s poetic cycle, O Guardador de Rebanhos (The Keeper of Sheep).
  • Approaches to the Question, ‘What is Life?’: Reconciling Theoretical Biology with Philosophical Biology

    Arran Gare; Swinburne University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2009-03-14)
    Philosophical biologists have attempted to define the distinction between life and non-life to more adequately define what it is to be human. They are reacting against idealism, but idealism is their point of departure, and they have embraced the reaction by idealists against the mechanistic notion of humans developed by the scientific materialists. Theoretical biologists also have attempted to develop a more adequate conception of life, but their point of departure has been within science itself. In their case, it has involved efforts to overcome the reductionism of scientific materialism to develop a form of science able to identify and explain the distinctive characteristics of living beings. So, while both philosophical biologists and theoretical biologists are struggling to overcome scientific materialism, they are approaching the question: What is Life? from different directions. Focussing on the work of Robert Rosen, I will try to show what revisions in our understanding of science theoretical biologists need to accept in order to do justice to the insights of the philosophical biologists. I will suggest that not only will this involve major revisions in what we understand science to be, but that scientists must accept that science is indissociable from natural philosophy, and that to properly comprehend life mathematics must ultimately be subordinated to stories.
  • Ethics After God’s Death and the Time of the Angels

    Marianna Papastephanou; Associate Prof of Philosophy, Uni of Cyprus, Dept of Edu (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2012-05-03)
  • The Science of Human Nature and the Social Contract

    Peter Corning; Institute for the Study of Complex Systems (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2015-08-23)
    One of the most important political challenges of our time - indeed of all times - is social justice.  It was first addressed as a philosophical issue in Plato's great dialogue, the Republic, and it has been a continuing theme in the "tradition of discourse" ever since.  As I will argue, Plato's analysis and conclusions represent a sound foundation and a starting point for advancing a new social justice paradigm that is undergirded by the emerging, multi-disciplinary science of human nature, which is briefly overviewed here.  I refer to it as a "biosocial contract," and it involves three empirically-grounded fairness precepts - equality, equity, and reciprocity -- that together form a new normative framework for guiding social policy.  The obvious logical objection to such a normative undertaking, commonly referred to as the "naturalistic fallacy," is briefly considered from the perspective of the biological problem of survival and reproduction and the fundamental nature of a human society as, quintessentially, a "collective survival enterprise." Logic aside, the reality is that we are all required to make unavoidable choices.
  • All That We Are: Philosophical Anthropology and Ecophilosophy

    Keith R Peterson; Colby College (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2010-08-04)
    Ecophilosophers have long argued that addressing the environmental crisis not only demands reassessing the ethical aspects of human and nature relations, but also prevailing theories of human nature. Philosophical anthropology has historically taken this as its calling, and its resources may be profitably utilized in the context of ecophilosophy. Distinguishing between conservative and emancipatory naturalism leads to a critical discussion of the Cartesian culture/nature dualism. Marjorie Grene is discussed as a resource in the tradition of philosophical anthropology which enables us to avoid dualistic thinking and espouse an emancipatory naturalism by resisting reductionism and acknowledging the diffuse dependence of human being on natural processes. In order to fully explicate the conditions of human dependence upon nature it becomes necessary to define an appropriate approach to ontology. This critical ontology facilitates a stratified understanding of the place of humans in nature without lapsing into reductivism or post-Kantian constructivism. It provides a sounder basis than either alternative for motivating a many- sided ecophilosophical perspective on human being.
  • Žižek and the Ontological Emergence of Technology

    Daniel Peter Hourigan; Griffith University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2009-11-25)
    This discussion utilises the thought of Slavoj Žižek as a departure point to consider the ontological emergence of technology as techne in the conceptual encounter of the Abyss in Being. Following Heidegger, Žižek’s critique examines the ontical and ontological implications of modern science. His championing of the political Cause makes the social realm essential for Žižek’s turn against the possible domination of a deterministic, technical, and scientific rationality. The problem of modern science dominating subjectivity with objectivity, i.e. the reduction of humanity to a biogenetic structure, calls for an opening of the deadlock of rationalist determinism with the facilitation of envaluing Being, lest we be cut off from intersubjectivity by a psychotic breakdown. It is precisely in the lack of control we have of other people, the reliance on others, that we come to revivify our mastery of who we are and our actions. In the Žižekian mode the ethical ‘ought’ is not an obstacle in the path of modern science but a guide, an epochal constellation of value and understanding occurring in the socio-political realm that emancipates itself from the naïve resignation inculcated by the deterministic causality of rationalisation. The aim of this paper is to explore how Žižek understands this envaluing as the ‘mythologisation of technology’.  
  • Designing Journeys to the Social World: Hegel’s Theory of Property and His Noble Dreams Revisited

    Haochen Sun; Harvard University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2010-08-04)
    The conventional interpretations of Hegel’s theory of property show that property plays an important role in developing human individuality through the person-to-thing relationship. In this paper, I seek to repudiate the conventional interpretations by demonstrating that they are narrow-minded and unfaithful to Hegel’s thought on property. I then offer a new interpretation of Hegel’s theory of property. By and large, I aim to show that Hegel’s property theory provides a vantage point for us to rethink the relationship between persons and the society in general and the nature of property in particular. Situated in the whole picture of Hegel’s social theory of freedom, I demonstrate that Hegel sees property as a social institution that plays a crucial role in shaping human individuality as well as sociability. On the one hand, mediated by the institution of property, a person nurtures and develops individuality or personal freedom in the social world consisting of things and other persons. On the other hand, the institution of property facilitates the cultivation of sociability by helping human beings become members of our society. Furthermore, social institutions in the Hegelian ethical life act as the indispensable catalyst for empowering property to spark the synergies between human individuality and sociability so as to actualize freedom for all human beings.
  • Kierkegaard’s Ethical Stage In Hegel’s Logical Categories: Actual Possibility, Reality And Necessity

    María J. Binetti; Conicet (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas), Argentina; Hong Kier (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2007-12-28)
    During decades, the history of philosophy has kept Kierkegaardrsquo;s and Hegelrsquo;s thought apart, and their long-standing opposition has swept through the speculative greatness of Kierkegaardian existentialism and the existential power of Hegelian philosophy. In contrast to such unfortunate misinterpretation, this article aims at showing the deep convergence that relates interiorly the Kierkegaardian ethical stage with the most important Hegelian logic categories. Kierkegaard and Hegel conceive of the idea as the real power of subjective becoming, and the existence as the actual concretion of the ideal. To both of them, the pure emeneacute;rgeia/em of freedom, which starts in the abstract and aesthetical possibility of the subjective immediacy, realizes itself as the actual concretion of finitude, assuming time and contingency by the eternal and necessary force of duty. The Kierkegaardian repetition is nothing but this powerful idea, mediating the flux of finite differences in the eternal identity of subject. However, for Kierkegaard as well as for Hegel there is an absolute contradiction, which promotes the overcoming of ethics.
  • Hans Jonas’s Noble ‘Heuristics of Fear’: Neither the Good Lie Nor the Terrible Truth

    Nathan Dinneen; Rochester Institute of Technology (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2014-12-15)
    In this essay, Jonas’s political teaching is discussed through examining his judicious use of the natural sciences, especially evolutionary theory and scientific ecology, in developing a new ontology and a new ethic. His ontological and ethical arguments are considered in terms of their public communication via his “heuristics of fear,” with particular attention to his claim that an ontological axiom that he makes use of is an argumentum ad hominem. I also make the case that the accusations against him as being an ecoauthoritarian fail to consider that his suggestions regarding the necessity of tyranny and the use of the noble lie to halt an ecological crisis are themselves expressions of the heuristics of fear, which is intended to foster willful change now before change of a forced sort becomes the only option. With this interpretation in mind, one sees the ennobling character of his heuristics of fear.  
  • Levinas separates the (hu)man from the non(hu)man, using hunger, enjoyment and anxiety to illuminate their relationship

    Angela Hirst; University of Queensland (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2007-08-17)
    This paper is part of my journey with Emmanuel Levinas on a dystopic path to the ethical encounter. For the journey, I agree to be Levinas#39;s human subject, to encounter his quot;otherquot;. And he agrees to traverse a path through my world, a world of food and eating. To ready me for the encounter, Levinas tells me the story of his ethics, narratively (we #39;journey#39; through it), and so this paper is unavoidably #39;story#39; too. To preface, then: The ethical encounter is a quot;face to facequot; encounter between a quot;humanquot; subject (me) and an quot;otherquot; (Totality and Infinity, 39). In my encountering the other face to face in the world of food, food production and eating, Levinas tells the story of the violences of my existence- of my #39;eating#39; of the world at the expense of the other. Face to face with the other, I cannot avoid my responsibility for the needs and suffering of the other. In quot;proximityquot; with the other, I am guilty for eating; in proximity, I respond by giving the other quot;bread from [my] mouthquot; (Otherwise than Being, 100). In this first part of the journey, I am hungry, and Levinas leads me through scenes replete with food and eating. He shows me how this world can satiate my needs, but how it will, inevitably and inextricably, leave me, a not-yet ethical human subject, vulnerable and exposed.
  • Walking With Death, Walking With Science, Walking With Living: Philosophical Praxis and Happiness

    Frances Gray; University of New England (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-12-19)
    This paper explores the consequences of acknowledging that we are the dead walking with the dead. I argue that if we take the view that life frames death, rather than the view that death frames life, then we must refigure our living as ethical creatures. Using Aristotle's notion that we become virtuous by practising virtue, I argue that happiness, thought of in terms of ethical living, should temper our attitude to death as the inevitable end we must all encounter. Acknowledgement of our dying and our death enhances the ethical imperative to live virtuously and to promote human flourishing. I adopt a Buddhist reading of death and dying to interpret the Aristotelian perspective.
  • Keeping the Faith: On Being Good and How Not to be Evil

    Alex Ling; University of Melbourne (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2006-10-27)
    Review of Alain Badiou, emEthics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil/em, trans. Peter Hallward, New York, Verso, 2001. ISBN: 1-85984-435-9br /
  • Evolutionary Naturalism and the Logical Structure of Valuation: The Other Side of Error Theory

    Richard A Richards; University of Alabama (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-12-19)
    On one standard philosophical position adopted by evolutionary naturalists, human ethical systems are nothing more than evolutionary adaptations that facilitate social behavior. Belief in an absolute moral foundation is therefore in error. But evolutionary naturalism, by its commitment to the basic valutional concept of fitness, reveals another, logical error: standard conceptions of value in terms of simple predication and properties are mistaken. Valuation has instead, a relational structure that makes reference to respects, subjects and environments. This relational nature is illustrated by the analogy commonly drawn between value and color. Color perception, as recognized by the ecological concept, is relational and dependent on subject and environment. In a similar way, value is relational and dependent on subject and environment. This makes value subjective, but also objective in that it is grounded on facts about mattering. At bottom, values are complex relational facts. The view presented here, unlike other prominent relational and naturalistic conceptions of value, recognizes the full range of valuation in nature. The advantages of this relational conception are first, that it gets valuation right; second, it provides a framework to better explain and understand valuation in all its varieties and patterns.
  • History, Narrative, and Meaning

    Roberto Artigiani; U.S. Naval Academy (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2007-08-17)
    Recent developments in the natural sciences make a renewed dialogue with the humanities possible. Previously, humanists resisted transferring scientific paradigms into fields like history, fearing materialism and determinism would deprive experience of its meaning and people of their freedom. At the same time, scientists were realizing that deterministic materialism made understanding phenomena like life virtually impossible. Scientists escaped the irony of describing a nature to which they did not belong by also discovering that their knowledge can never be complete and that descriptions of nature at the subatomic level were essentially random. These developments, as Monod said, weakened the “Modern” paradigm sufficiently to make life scientifically possible. To understand how life might actually exist, however, scientists had to move beyond laments about observations losing information and concentrate on how nature creates information. Nature creates information in the process of reducing thermodynamic gradients and stores created information in self-organized systems. Nature thus becomes historical, for it is defined by qualitative changes accumulating over time because of unpredictable contingencies. This paper will explore the possibility that the patterned processes by which nature changes apply in the human realm, where interactions can change people and created information can be stored in self-organized societies. Values, Ethics and Morals (VEMs) are the qualitatively new information stored in social systems. VEMs script the actions structuring societies, demonstrating there is meaning in history and solving the problem of how sequences of events –“chronicles”–become narratives. Moreover, when societies compete, their system-structuring information is tested in the same way natural selection tests DNA. Thus, the succession of social systems suggests there is a meaning of history. The meaning of history need be no more transcendental or intended than Darwinian evolution. But if organs and traits can have biological value without implying design, socially constructed attributes like morality, consciousness, and freedom can be valued without supposing history has an ultimate or eternal purpose. Aspiring to show how the cacophony of historical events becomes a cosmos, a “well-ordered” context in which changes become meaningful, this sketch suggests a new understanding of nature may provide a basis for ethics.
  • How Lacan's Ethics Might Improve Our Understanding of Nietzsche's Critique of Platonism: The Neurosis and Nihilism of a ‘Life’ Against Life

    Tim Themi; Deakin University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2009-03-14)
    his paper sets to answering the question of how Lacanrsquo;s 1959-60 Seminar on emThe Ethics of Psychoanalysis/em, with its recurring critique of the Platonic idea of a moral Sovereign Good, might contribute to and improve our understanding of the Nietzschean project to diagnose the moral metaphysics instigated by Plato in philosophy, and by Christianity in religion, as a history of untruth and nihilismndash;ndash;emopposed to life/emndash;ndash;in preparation for its overcoming. I explore the possibility that Lacanrsquo;s emEthics/em might make such a contribution by i) its tripartite ontology of the real, the symbolic and the imaginary serving as an additional frame of reference for examining the nature of the Good and our configurations of desire beneath it; and ii) by its more detailed elaboration of the archaic, polymorphous perversity at the instinctual base of the drives, what Lacan in his emEthics/em will call emdas Ding/em, the somewhat diabolical Freudian Thing. I also attempt to indicate how Nietzschersquo;s own ethics might make a contribution to those of the Lacanian, for the purposes of further combating what I will take to be the contemporary neurosis and nihilism of a lsquo;lifersquo; emagainst/em lifendash;ndash;as indicated today for instance by such phenomena as the physical destruction of the environment, along with us as amongst its earthly inhabitants.
  • Hegel’s Theory of Moral Action, its Place in his System and the ‘Highest’ Right of the Subject

    David Rose; Newcastle University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2007-12-28)
    There is at present, amongst Hegel scholars and in the interpretative discussions of Hegelrsquo;s social and political theories, the flavour of old-style lsquo;apologyrsquo; for his liberal credentials, as though there exists a real need to prove he holds basic liberal views palatable to the hegemonic, contemporary political worldview. Such an approach is no doubt motivated by the need to reconstruct what is left of the modern moral conscience when Hegel has finished discussing the flaws and contradictions of the Kantian model of moral judgement. The main claim made in the following pages is that the critique of lsquo;subjectiversquo; moralities is neither the sole nor even the main reason for the adoption of an immanent doctrine of ethics. This paper will look to Hegelrsquo;s mature theory of action as motivating the critique of transcendentalism rather than merely filling in the hole left when one rejects Kant and it will discuss what the consequences of this approach are for the role of the moral conscience within the political sphere, arguing that Hegelrsquo;s own conditions of free action would not be met unless the subjective moral conscience was operative in the rational state.
  • Evolution to Autonomy

    Horace Lockwood Fairlamb; University of Houston-Victoria (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2007-08-17)
    Since both modern moral theory and evolutionary theory arose in the shadow of Newtonian and Humean conceptions of nature, debates about evolutionary ethics have typically been vexed by deeper problems with the nature of evolution itself as well as meta-ethical questions about the link between facts and values. Humean skepticism and mechanistic selectionism have recently coincided in postmodern attacks on essentialism,on meta-narratives of progress, on models of human nature, and on moral collectivism. Against this most recent wave of skepticism, however, contemporary reconstructions of evolution in light of complex systems science suggest useful ways of reinterpreting both evolutionary causation, the biology of human nature, and their implications for ethics.
  • Guilt: Facing the Problem of Ethical Solipsism

    Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies; Sami Pihlstrom; Professor, Univ. of Jyvaskyla; Director, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2011-12-30)
    Abstract: This article deals with the constitutive role played by the emotion of guilt, or the capacity of experiencing such emotions, in our moral life. The deeply personal nature of moral guilt (or remorse) leads to the problem of ethical solipsism: it seems that guilt can in the end concern only me, not anyone else, in a morally profound sense. Echoing Dostoevsky, the truly ethical thinker ought to acknowledge that everyone is guilty in front of the entire mankind, “and I more than anyone else”. This problematic feature of our moral perspectives on the world is examined through comments on a number of authors, including Kant, Wittgenstein, Levinas, Gaita, and Todorov. While we do need to avoid solipsism, there is a “truth” hidden in it: morality is something that we are individually and personally deeply responsible for.
  • Philosophical Anthropology, Ethics and Political Philosophy in an Age of Impending Catastrophe

    Arran Gare; Swinburne University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2009-11-25)
     In this paper it is argued that philosophical anthropology is central to ethics and politics. The denial of this has facilitated the triumph of debased notions of humans developed by Hobbes which has facilitated the enslavement of people to the logic of the global market, a logic which is now destroying the ecological conditions for civilization and most life on Earth. Reviving the classical understanding of the central place of philosophical anthropology to ethics and politics, the early work of Hegel and Marx is explicated, defended and further developed by interpreting this through developments in post-mechanistic science. Overcoming the opposition between the sciences and the humanities, it is suggested that the conception of humans developed in this way can orient people in their struggle for the liberty to avert a global ecological catastrophe.
  • Approaches to the Question, ‘What is Life?’: Reconciling Theoretical Biology with Philosophical Biology

    Arran Gare; Swinburne University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2009-03-14)
    !--[if gte mso 9]xml w:WordDocument w:ViewNormal/w:View w:Zoom0/w:Zoom w:Compatibility w:BreakWrappedTables/ w:SnapToGridInCell/ w:WrapTextWithPunct/ w:UseAsianBreakRules/ /w:Compatibility w:BrowserLevelMicrosoftInternetExplorer4/w:BrowserLevel /w:WordDocument /xml![endif]-- !-- /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:EN-AU;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} -- !--[if gte mso 10] style /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} /style ![endif]-- p style="text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal"spanPhilosophical biologists have attempted to define the distinction between life and non-life to more adequately define what it is to be human. They are reacting against idealism, but idealism is their point of departure, and they have embraced the reaction by idealists against the mechanistic notion of humans developed by the scientific materialists. Theoretical biologists also have attempted to develop a more adequate conception of life, but their point of departure has been within science itself. In their case, it has involved efforts to overcome the reductionism of scientific materialism to develop a form of science able to identify and explain the distinctive characteristics of living beings. So, while both philosophical biologists and theoretical biologists are struggling to overcome scientific materialism, they are approaching the question: What is Life? from different directions. Focussing on the work of Robert Rosen, in this paper I will try to show what revisions in our understanding of science theoretical biologists need to accept in order to do justice to the insights of the philosophical biologists. I will suggest that these revisions should be accepted, and spell out some of the implications of such a science./span/p

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