Current research

Research Interests

Press journalism: Journalism and Media Theory, Ethics and the Media, Philosophy of Information, Media-Business-Politics Interaction, Modern Tools of Propaganda, Media and Power — international affairs & science and technology

International relations: USA, transatlantic relations, Great Britain, religions  (European Islam, Christianity, Buddhism), European migration and demography, risk management, cross-cultural solidarity, IR theories: postmodernism, neomedievalism, constructivism.

Philosophy: (1) philosophy of natural sciences, game theory and network theory in the social sciences, complexity theory, (2) philosophy of history & civilization theory, big history evolution studies, postmodernism, comparative religions  (European Islam, Christianity, Buddhism)

PhD THESIS IN PHILOSOPHY

Philosophical-historical issues in Joseph Tainter’s theory of the collapse of complex societies


My PhD dissertation analyzes Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies in the context of some questions traditionally formulated by speculative philosophy of history.

First, speculative philosophy of history and comparative research on civilizations are introduced as interrelated research fields. Then, Tainter’s theory of societal collapse is elaborated in detail, which paves the way for extraction of philosophical-historical (historiosophical) issues present in his work. Tainter is presented as a speculative philosopher of history, whose work has been hitherto overlooked by the scholars who synthesize accomplishments in this branch of philosophy. The overlooked importance of ecology and sustainability for philosophy of history is highlighted as well.

Then, philosophical limitations of the notion of “complex society” are recognized, which is subsequently juxtaposed with recent efforts by Ian Morris to reintroduce the concept of “a civilization” as comparative mode of civilizational research. Tainter’s and Morris’ approaches are then briefly compared, which leads to a conclusion that both authors at least partially fail to create a civilizational concept useful for modern comparative researchers. In particular, their approaches are non-functional if one wants to comparatively study cultural identities, as their frameworks lack criteria for cultural differentiation of civilizations. The essay also summarizes and discusses most recent (2016) criticism of the concept of civilization by Justin Jennings.

Finally, a new definition of “a civilization” is put forward, which treats a disjunction of “a type of political order” (as understood by Francis Fukuyama) and/or “dominant religion” as factors useful in differentiating civilizations. The definition is aimed at being dynamic, empirically measurable, and it avoids some discriminatory pitfalls of essentialism. At the same time it retains a potential for drawing civilizational lines of demarcation after additional research.

 


Previous theses/works:

1. The Conversion Game: Towards Game Theoretic Modelling of Early Christianity (MSc – EN) (distinction), preparing for publication.

The game theoretic modelling of the competition between different branches of early Christianity in Netlogo environment. The strategies available to different branches of Christianiaty were linked to their doctrinal tenets.  The model brings us closer to understand why some religions outnumber other.

My TEDx talk called “Simulator of Christianity” covers some of the issues of the thesis (English subtitles, lectured in Polish).


2. The Advent of New Proletariat: the Internal Proletariat in Hellenic and Western Civilizations according to Arnold Toynbee’s “Study of History” (MSc – PL) (distinction) (published in Polish by Centre for Political Thought in 2012)

A review of the book is now available in Polish daily “Rzeczpospolita”. It seems that some categories used to study social dynamics of the great sociopolitical systems of the past might be useful in describing what is going on in terms of systems of beliefs and social trends in modern European Union.  It is argued that the notion of “internal proletariat” – a social group that technically belongs to a given civilization but in fact despises or ignores some of its core values might be an interesting point of departure to study EU with its boiling cauldron of religions.


3. New Middle Ages – Towards Network Theory of Neo-Medievalism

The essay, published first in Polish in Pressje Magazine as a cover story (“Witajcie w nowym średniowieczu”) took the form of a long article with tables that tries to pave the way for a new theory of medievalism. I call this theory a “network theory” because of the importance of the sociology of networks in understanding my approach. The essay analyzes many hitherto known “medievalisms” to create a new, synthetic “Network Neo-Medievalism”. It does so by identifying “neomedieval” phenomena on technical, political, economic, cultural, social and demographic levels. There is an English summary of the essay available (prepared for Pulaski Foundation). The summary covers main  findings of the original publication.

Both versions of the essay are available here.


4. Dostoyevsky Extended: Brave New World and the Debate on Science and Society in the XXth century inter-war Britain (MA – EN) (fragments published in the form of an article)

Dostoyevski’s “fear of a table”, uttered in the “Notes from the Underground” was an idea according to which human behaviour could be – and will be –  controlled with the help of scientific knowledge. This fear gets contextualized and embedded into a magnificent vision in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”.  The pragmatically demonic Grand Inquisitor reappears in Huxley’s mind as the World Controller. Apart from the influence of Dostoyevski, this detailed study of Huxley’s technological inspirations reveals  the links to English intellectual elite (e.g. Bertrand Russell or G.B.S. Haldane) and Marxists.


5. Ortega y Gasset – “The Revolt of the Masses” in the Context of Ortega’s Philosophy of History (BA – PL) (distinction) (an extract published in Polish Kwartalnik Filozoficzny)

The essay reconstructs three philosophical crises in the European thought according to Ortega that can be ultimately depicted as a suggestive sinusoid of social attitudes operating throughout history of Western Civilization between the two boundary lines of the primary “belief”. The belief is in fact a trust in first data humans have to adopt before they start to think philosophically: priority of object or subject. According to Ortega, the trend-setting points of Western history were the beliefs advocated by the generations of early Christianity and later the beliefs voiced by the generation of Descartes. The advent of postmodernity might be read as a prelude to a new trend-setting synthesis.

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