New Reading List
by Adam Robbert
Some incoming books from Amazon that I’ll be checking out in the coming weeks, each of which have been recommended by friends, colleagues, and the algorithms that track my purchase history on Amazon.com. Hopefully the insights of these works will be finding their way into my thoughts over the weeks and months to come. Each of the accompanied descriptions are the books own.
1) “Originally published in French in seven volumes, Cosmopolitics investigates the role and authority of the sciences in modern societies and challenges their claims to objectivity, rationality, and truth. Cosmopolitics II includes the first English-language translations of the last four books: Quantum Mechanics: The End of the Dream, In the Name of the Arrow of Time: Prigogine’s Challenge, Life and Artifice: The Faces of Emergence, and The Curse of Tolerance.
Arguing for an “ecology of practices” in the sciences, Isabelle Stengers explores the discordant landscape of knowledge derived from modern science, seeking intellectual consistency among contradictory, confrontational, and mutually exclusive philosophical ambitions and approaches. For Stengers, science is a constructive enterprise, a diverse, interdependent, and highly contingent system that does not simply discover preexisting truths but, through specific practices and processes, helps shape them.
Stengers concludes this philosophical inquiry with a forceful critique of tolerance; it is a fundamentally condescending attitude, she contends, that prevents those worldviews that challenge dominant explanatory systems from being taken seriously. Instead of tolerance, she proposes a “cosmopolitics” that rejects politics as a universal category and allows modern scientific practices to peacefully coexist with other forms of knowledge.”
2) “Interdisciplinarity and Climate Change is a major new book addressing one of the most challenging questions of our time. Its unique standpoint is based on the recognition that effective and coherent interdisciplinarity is necessary to deal with the issue of climate change, and the multitude of linked phenomena which both constitute and connect to it.
In the opening chapter, Roy Bhaskar makes use of the extensive resources of critical realism to articulate a comprehensive framework for multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity and cross-disciplinary understanding, one which duly takes account of ontological as well as epistemological considerations. Many of the subsequent chapters seek to show how this general approach can be used to make intellectual sense of the complex phenomena in and around the issue of climate change, including our response to it.
Among the issues discussed, in a number of graphic and compelling studies, by a range of distinguished contributors, both activists and scholars, are:
- The dangers of reducing all environmental, energy and climate gas issues to questions of carbon dioxide emissions
- The problems of integrating natural and social scientific work and the perils of monodisciplinary tunnel vision
- The consequences of the neglect of issues of consumption in climate policy
- The desirability of a care-based ethics and of the integration of cultural considerations into climate policy
- The problem of relating theoretical knowledge to practical action in contemporary democratic societies”
3) “Environmental insiders Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus triggered a firestorm of controversy with their self-published essay, “The Death of Environmentalism.” In it, they argued that global warming is far more complex than past pollution problems. American values have changed dramatically since the environmental movement’s greatest victories in the 1960s, yet environmentalists keep fighting the same battles without realizing that the battle field has changed. Noting a connection between the failures of environmentalism and the failures of the entire left-leaning political agenda, the authors point the way toward an aspirational politics that will resonate with modern American values and be capable of tackling our most pressing challenges.”