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Olduvai III: Catacylsm
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On Domed Cities and Doomed Dreams

On Domed Cities and Doomed Dreams

Recently I’ve been reading the writings of the American philosopher William James. You won’t  see much discussion of his work among philosophers nowadays, and that’s not just because he happened to be white and male.  He had the bad luck to reach maturity as Western philosophy was in its death throes, and he added to that misfortune by having a mind clear and honest enough that he drew certain necessary conclusions from the intellectual struggles of his day.

He hasn’t yet been forgiven for those conclusions. There are reasons for that—understandable reasons, though not good ones.  The conclusions, and the reasons they’ve been ignored, have lost none of their relevance since his time.  Quite the contrary, the harsh conditions tightening their grip on our industrial civilization just now can’t really be understood without listening to what James and others like him were trying to say, and what those who denounced him were trying even harder not to hear. Thus we’re going to have to talk a little about the history of philosophy.

Yes, I know perfectly well that most people think of that subject, on the rare occasions that they think of it at all, as the dullest sort of useless academic trivia. They’re wrong, but there’s a lesson in the mistake. The next time Neil deGrasse Tyson throws one of his public hissy fits insisting that philosophy is just plain wrongety-wrong-wrong-wrong, I hope none of my readers are so slow on the uptake as to think this shows that philosophy doesn’t matter…

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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