Reconstructing Photohumanism

Pluralistic Humanism, Democracy, and the Anthropocene


  • Tibor Solymosi Mercyhurst University



Humanism, Environmentalism, photohumanism, pluralism, Climate Change


Roy Scranton argues for a new philosophical humanism as the best response to the existential crisis of the Anthropocene, the new geological epoch for which human industrial activity is responsible. This threat from climate change, Scranton argues, is better met through what he calls photohumanism than by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) alone. This new humanism shares many affinities with pluralistic humanism. A key concern is political action, which is problematized by what Tschaepe calls dopamine democracy. Scranton shares this concern, but his approach puts too great an emphasis on binaries, such as culture and nature, mind and body, and life and death. I offer the philosophical method of reconstruction, as situated within pluralistic humanism and the philosophy of John Dewey. In introducing the need for reconstruction as a method for doing philosophy in a new but ancient sense of learning to die, I reconstruct photohumanism and offer the Deweyan ideal of democracy for overcoming the problem of the Anthropocene.


Deacon, Terrence. 2011. Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Nature. New York: W. W. Norton.

Dennett, Daniel C. 2003. Freedom Evolves. New York: Viking.

———. 2013. “Aching Voids and Making Voids: A review of Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter by Terrence W. Deacon.” The Quarterly Review of Biology 88(4): 321–324.

Dewey, John. 1988 [1934]. Art as Experience. In The Later Works of John Dewey, volume 10. Edited by Jo Ann Boydston. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

———. 1988 [1938]. Logic: A Theory of Inquiry. In The Later Works of John Dewey. Edited by Jo Ann Boydston. Volume 12. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

Plato. 1977. Timaeus and Critias. Translated by Desmond Lee. New York: Penguin Books.

———. 1992. The Republic. Translated by G. M. A. Grube. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.

———. 2002. Phaedo, in Five Dialogues. Translated by G. M. A. Grube. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.

Rorty, Richard. 1999. Philosophy as Social Hope. New York: Penguin.

Sagan, Carl. 2006. The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God. Edited by Ann Druyan. New York: Penguin.

Scranton, Roy. 2015. Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of A Civilization. San Francisco, CA: City Light Books.

Solymosi, Tibor. 2011. “Neuropragmatism, Old and New.” Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10(3): 347–368.

Solymosi, Tibor. 2015. “Pluralistic Humanism: Democracy and the Religious.”
Essays in the Philosophy ofHumanism 23(1): 25–43.

———. 2016a. “We Deweyan Creatures.” Pragmatism Today 7(1): 41–59.

———. 2016b. “Recovering Philosophy from Cognitive Science.” In Pragmatism and Embodied Cognitive Science: From Bodily Interaction to Symbolic Articulation, edited by Roman Madzia and Matthias Jung. 143–164. Berlin: DeGruyter.

Tschaepe, Mark Dietrich. 2013a. “The Creative Moment of Scientific Apprehension: Understanding the Consummation of Scientific Explanation Through Dewey and Peirce.” European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy, (V)1: 32–41.

———. 2013b. “The Dopamine Democracy: Leaving Leadership to Tyrants.” Philosophy Club Leadership Summit, Prairie View A&M University, 20 November.

———. 2016. “Undermining Dopamine Democracy Through Education: Synthetic Situations, Social Media, and Incentive Salience.” Pragmatism Today 7(1): 32–40.

Zawidzki, Tadeusz. 2007. Dennett. Oxford: Oneworld.



How to Cite

Solymosi, T. (2016). Reconstructing Photohumanism: Pluralistic Humanism, Democracy, and the Anthropocene. Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, 24(2), 115–134.