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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Revisioning Philosophy: An Inquiry into Better Ways of Knowing—in the Humanities, in the Arts, in the Sciences, and in the World

  • Author(s): Knightly, Nickolas
  • Advisor(s): Ellis, Jon
  • et al.

An inquiry into the cultivation of an ethically-, aesthetically-, ecologically-rooted way of knowing and a meditation on philosophy as a way of life. This text considers how the climate crisis and general ecological degradation (along with other phenomena) indicate the need for a better way of knowing. The text begins with the multidisciplinary scientist Gregory Bateson’s suggestion that “the most important task today is . . . to learn to think in [a] new way.” This may sound like a platitude, but Bateson was a careful scientist who was sensitive to the unprecedented social and ecological challenges humanity now faces. His suggestion was meant as a sober, perhaps even a sobering imperative. He was not alone in making this suggestion. Perhaps philosophy always demands this of us, and it seems to have become incredibly important, given the state of the world. But how can we actually think differently, and what is wrong with our current ways of thinking and known? To find out, the dissertation engages in a “philosophical meta-analysis,” a kind of archaeology of the soul, considering various spiritual artefacts from western and non-western, Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures, including insights from Eihei Dogen, Plato, Buddha, Blackfoot epistemology, C.G. Jung, John Dewey, Friedrich Nietzsche, E. Richard Sorenson, Gregory Bateson, and others. The inquiry offers steps toward an ethically and aesthetically embodied, ecologically and spiritually embedded epistemology of practice and realization that amounts to a paradigm shift out of the forms of life and forms of discourse not only of the western academy, but of the dominant culture as a whole.

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