Callicott, J. Baird, “A NeoPresocratic Manifesto”

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Callicott, J. Baird. “A NeoPresocratic Manifesto.” Environmental Humanities 2 (May 2013): 169–186.

Ancient Greek philosophy begins with natural philosophy (the Milesians, Heraclitus, Empedocles, Anaxagoras), followed after about a century by a focus on moral philosophy (Socrates and the sophists). The pattern is repeated in the Modern period: first natural philosophy re-emerged after the Dark and Middle Ages (Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, Newton) followed by a correlative revolution in moral philosophy (Hobbes, Hume, Kant). In particular, moral ontology (externally related individuals) reflected the ontology of physics (externally related atoms). Individuals are, in effect, social atoms. Curiously, twentieth century philosophy has largely turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the vast philosophical implications of the second scientific revolution in twentieth century science, among them a correlative moral ontology of internal relations and social wholes. The environmental turn in the humanities, grounded in ecology and evolutionary biology, is a harbinger of the re-orientation of philosophy to the revolutionary ideas in the sciences and foreshadows an emerging NeoPresocratic revival in twenty-first century philosophy.

— Adapted from the author's abstract.

© J. Baird Callicott 2013. All rights reserved. Made available on the Environment & Society Portal for nonprofit educational purposes only. Environmental Humanities is available online only and is published under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).