Adventures in Meta-Philosophy:
Six Projects for Young Philosophers
Prof. Anthony Weston (Elon University)
I am in the midst of a book manuscript addressing these questions. It’s meant for young philosophers – you! My hope for this summer course is to bring the book manuscript to you at just the stage when it is complete enough that you will have a lot of substance to work with, but not so settled that it resists much more change. We will have fun with it together – exploring, stretching, twisting, confronting, inventing and re-inventing – sometimes uncomfortably, too, but always in the fundamentally constructive imaginative space we create and sustain together. My bet is that your voices will end up in the eventual book right along with mine. I am looking to learn from and be provoked and challenged by you, just as I hope you will be looking to learn from me and be provoked and challenged by the possibilities that this course will pose to you.
Currently the planned book’s six “projects” – each a chapter – are:
1. Becoming Earthlings. It was already urgent yesterday to overcome our insistent self-separation from the planet. What can it mean to recognize and practically take account not just of global climate change but the fact that the very Earth moves under our feet? This planet is the only solid ground we’ve got and yet at the same time is a massive, whirling, elastic body in space. While we’re at it, let’s finally embrace evolution too, in the same spirit – the sheer fact of our animality in the context of an unimaginably ancient, dynamic, living community. How might the philosophical pieces fall into new places then?
2. Way Bolder Ethics. One way is: Instead of super-cautiously trying to slightly extend or retrofit the same old human-centered first principles to maybe a few other animals, we may instead conceive ethics as a style of comportment – a (literally) considerate way of being with others – rather than mainly a set of rules or imperatives; as a mode of transformative action rather than a system for making judgments or solving dilemmas; and above all as rooted in Earth conceived not as some kind of ethical mega-person but as an all-inclusive matrix of connection and inter-being. We don’t “extend” or even “ground” such an ethic – we wake up to “All Our Relations”.