The Manhattan Project: A conversation between David Kishik and Zed Adams

Join us Monday, June 5th at 7pm for a conversation between David Kishik, author of The Manhattan Project, and Zed Adams, co-editor of Giving a Damn, at Book Culture on 112th St.

This sharp, witty study of a book never written, a sequel to Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project, is dedicated to New York City, capital of the twentieth century. A sui generis work of experimental scholarship or fictional philosophy, it analyzes an imaginary manuscript composed by a ghost.

Part sprawling literary montage, part fragmentary theory of modernity, part implosive manifesto on the urban revolution, The Manhattan Project offers readers New York as a landscape built of sheer life. It initiates them into a world of secret affinities between photography and graffiti, pragmatism and minimalism, Andy Warhol and Robert Moses, Hannah Arendt and Jane Jacobs, the flâneur and the homeless person, the collector and the hoarder, the glass-covered arcade and the bare, concrete street. These and many other threads can all be spooled back into one realization: for far too long, we have busied ourselves with thinking about ways to change the city; it is about time we let the city change the way we think.

David Kishik is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Emerson College. He is the author of The Manhattan Project: A Theory of a City, which was just released in paperback by Stanford University Press. His previous books are The Power of Life: Agamben and the Coming Politics (Stanford, 2012) and Wittgenstein’s Form of Life (Continuum, 2008). He is also the co-translator of Giorgio Agamben’s Nudities and What Is an Apparatus.

Zed Adams is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. He is the author of Genealogy of Color: A Case Study in Historicized Conceptual Analysis (Routledge 2015) and the co-editor of Giving a Damn: Essays in Dialogue with John Haugeland (MIT 2016). He is currently working on a book on sound recording.

This is event is FREE and open to the public.
Event address:
536 W 112th St
New York, NY 10025
Can’t make it? Reserve a signed copy by calling our store today:
The Manhattan Project: A Theory of a City Cover Image
ISBN: 9781503602779
Availability: On Our Shelves Now – Click Title to See Location Inventory.
Published: Stanford University Press – March 14th, 2017

Out of Our Electoral Darkness: Introducing Lottocracy

As Aristotle (roughly) put it: if you want oligarchy, have elections; if you want democracy, use lotteries.  In this talk, philosopher Alex Guerrero brings this idea into the 21st century, arguing that 6 deep pathologies of electoral representative democracy prevent us from having real democracy, that is from having the State work for all of us, rather than just the most powerful of us.  He maintains that these problems with electoral representative democracy run deep, so that even politically unlikely reforms with respect to campaign finance, lobbying, gerrymandering, and so on, would not be enough to make a significant improvement.  In our most recent presidential election, both Sanders supporters and Trump supporters shared this sentiment: our political system is broken, as it works for the wealthiest of Americans, but certainly not for all.  In his talk, Guerrero offers a way forward, through what he calls “lottocratic” government.  In this system, law is made by issue-specific legislatures, rather than generalist legislatures (like Congress), and the members of these issue-specific legislatures are chosen by lottery from the general citizenry.  After introducing these systems of government, he will discuss some relevant historical examples of institutions of this kind, and discuss some of their possible advantages and disadvantages.
Please join us for this thought-provoking and possibly change-inducing discussion. It is the first in a planned series of discussions co-sponsored by the Gotham Philosophical Society and the CUNY Academy for the Humanities and Sciences, titled ‘Rethinking Political Society.’ 
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 7:15pm, Room 9206
CUNY Graduate Center, 365 5th Avenue (at 34th Street)
New York, New York 10016
(212) 817-7944

Alexander Guerrero is a philosopher specializing in political, legal, and moral philosophy, and topics in epistemology that relate to those three areas.  He attended Harvard College and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Philosophy.  He completed his PhD in Philosophy from New York University and his JD from New York University School of Law.  While a law student, he served as Editor-in-Chief of the New York University Law Review.  Alex joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Philosophy in 2012, and has secondary appointments in the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy in the Perelman School of Medicine.  His work has appeared in a number of leading philosophical and legal journals, including Philosophy and Public Affairs, Philosophical Studies, Ethics, Legal Theory, Public Affairs Quarterly, Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Criminal Law and Philosophy, and Jurisprudence.  He is currently working on a book-length project, The Lottocratic Alternative, in which he introduces the “lottocratic” system of government, and argues that we should use lotteries to choose our political officials, rather than elections.

Society at the Crossroads: A Conversation between Amartya Sen and Akeel Bilgrami

Join us at the Rubin Museum of Art, on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 6pm!

Society is at a crossroads. The importance of asking questions to understand where we’ve been, why we’re here, and where we’re going, has never felt more pressing.

Philosophical thought sits at the center of this quest for answers. In this talk, co-presented by the Rubin Museum of Art, Professors Amartya Sen (Economics and Philosophy, Harvard) and Akeel Bilgrami (Philosophy, Columbia) will consider the nature of philosophy in the past and present, its relation to the social sciences and humanities, and its role in  public and private life, both material and spiritual.

Gotham Philosophical Society members can redeem $10 tickets using the discount code: GPS10. 

The Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th Street
New York, NY 10011

The Power of Dao: A Timeless Guide to Happiness and Harmony

Dao — often translated as “the Way” — is China’s original and invaluable contribution to philosophy. Ineffable yet inexhaustible, Dao is metaphysically profound, empirically sound, and aesthetically renowned. From quantum physics to modern medicine, from fractal geometry to martial arts, from family relations to warring states, Dao’s insights are pervasive and effective. Daoism’s practices rank with those of Buddhism and Stoicism in cultivating peoples’ “best selves.” Dao conduces to individual serenity, social harmony, and political unity. This talk will be based on Lou Marinoff’s book “The Power of Dao,” using its case studies to illustrate some foundational ideas and their applications.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 6pm. This event is part of the Philosophy Series at The Cornelia Street Café, located at 29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014 (near Sixth Avenue and West 4th St.). Admission is $10, which includes the price of one drink. Reservations are recommended (212. 989.9319)

Lou Marinoff is Professor of Philosophy and Asian Studies at The City College of New York, and founding president of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association. He has authored internationally best-selling books on philosophy for everyday life. The Power of Tao reflects Lou’s lifelong devotion to Chinese philosophy. In youth he was a student of venerable Sing Ming Li, a grandmaster of Kung Fu and practitioner of  Chinese medicine. In maturity Lou became a cultural advisor to venerable Xi Yongshin, Abbott of Shaolin Temple. As faculty of Horasis and the WEF, he serves global forums. His hobbies include photography, music, and tennis. Dao is his constant guide. For more information visit

Buddhist Meditation, Mental Freedom, and Free Will

It is a generally accepted principle of Buddhist philosophy that it denies the ultimate reality of the self as an autonomously existing entity. Yet the philosopher Rick Repetti, who is also a seasoned practitioner and instructor of meditation and yoga, argues that the Buddhist view of meditation is in fact a method of cultivating mental freedom, and that such cultivation simultaneously increases free will. Join Dr. Repetti as he takes us on a journey into the Buddhist perspective in order to dissolve the apparent tension of free will for selves that do not exist.

Wednesday, February 1 at 6pm. This event is part of the Philosophy Series at The Cornelia Street Café, located at 29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014 (near Sixth Avenue and West 4th St.). Admission is $10, which includes the price of one drink. Reservations are recommended (212. 989.9319)

Dr. Repetti is Professor of Philosophy at CUNY Kingsborough, the co-founder and co-leader of the CUNY Contemplatives Network, and a Fellow with the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society. He has published over a dozen articles, chapters, and books about, Buddhism, meditation, mental freedom, and free will, among other articles in the areas of ethics, philosophy of religion, and contemplative philosophy of education. His most recent book is Buddhist Perspectives on Free Will: Agentless Agency? (London: Routledge, 2016)

Lies, Damn Lies, and Santa Claus

Some people (to whom we might refer, if solely for the sake of convenience, as ‘Grinches’) beat a somber path from denial of Santa’s being to condemnation of a joyous tradition. Unable to see Santa within the limited horizons of their own pinched perspectives, they conclude that to assert the right jolly old elf’s existence would be but a lie.  Zealous defenders of the creed that (almost all) lying is wrong, they dutifully don the self-imposed shackles of a selective moral rectitude only to haunt our decked halls with mirthless intent. Fortunately, life-affirming children of all ages naturally resist such negativity. Young hearts that swell with anticipation of the imminent arrival of Kris Kringle, Sinter Klaas, or Old St. Nick, know very well that there are many more things between heaven and earth then are dreamt of in the Grinches’ philosophy. But a world that sustains the existence Santa is not without its own ethical imperatives. A society that sanctions the expectations that belief in Santa raises, incurs the obligation to meet them as extensively as possible. Join us as Joseph Biehl suggests that the better course for us would not be to forsake and slander Santa, but rather to become his most trusted and faithful helpers, cheerfully bringing the spirit of the season—the true spirit—to those who need it most.


Thursday, December 22 at 6pm. This event is part of the Philosophy Series at The Cornelia Street Café, located at 29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014 (near Sixth Avenue and West 4th St.). Admission is $10, which includes the price of one drink. Reservations are recommended (212. 989.9319)

Joseph Biehl is the Founder and Executive Director of the Gotham Philosophical Society, the mission of which is to bring philosophy into the everyday discourse of the city. Dr. Biehl earned a B.A. in philosophy from St. John’s University in Queens and a Ph.D. from the Graduate School and University Center, CUNY. He is especially interested in the connections between our ideas of truth and belief, belief and choice, and choice and identity, as well as the personal relationships and political conditions that help shape them.

Too Much or too Little Science? Between the Extremes of Scientism and Pseudoscience

View the video of this event here.

November 21, 2016

We live in an increasingly polarized society, not just in terms of political and social issues, but also when it comes to our very understanding of the world. An increasing number of people question the authority of science, rejecting well established notions such as evolution, climate change, and the safety of vaccines. They prefer to engage in pseudoscientific thinking, according to which the universe bends to our will (the “law of attraction”) or God personally created every species on earth. On the opposite side of the barricade there are those who display a smug overconfidence about the powers of science — known as scientism. They ridicule other disciplines as well as religious belief, and argue that if a question cannot be approached scientifically than it amounts to nonsense. What is to be done about such ideological excesses? Can we develop a more reasonable model of human understanding? And how do we chart a course between scientism and pseudoscience? Join us as Massimo Pigliucci leads us in this very important discussion.


Prof. Pigliucci has a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tennessee. He currently is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. His research interests include the philosophy of biology, the relationship between science and philosophy, the nature of pseudoscience, and the practical philosophy of Stoicism. He is a prolific author and editor, including the recently published Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem (University of Chicago Press), co-edited with Maarten Boudry.

What Lies Beneath the Ink? Tattoos and Personal Identity

View the video of this event here.

October 13, 2016

Beneath tattoos are the meanings they have for the people wearing them. A philosophy of tattoos must recognize the personal and particular identities, values and ideals of those who wear them. Although meaning lies invisibly on the other side of the skin, it is crucial to understanding tattoos as an art form. A “human canvas” is not a two-dimensional surface. What does it mean when art is intrinsically connected to living persons? The “art” in question is charged with evolving social and personal histories. In this talk, Maureen Eckert will discuss how this invisible side of the tattoo arts plays a role in its popularity and commercialization while it paradoxically resists full commercialization and challenges the traditional fine arts. There is something radical about tattoos, although it is not anything obvious.

Maureen Pic

Maureen Eckert is a philosopher at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. She works in the areas of Ancient Greek philosophy, metaphysics and logic. On the side, she is a tattoo photographer, running her website, a project focusing on the narratives of tattoo clients and the characters of their tattoos captured in macro photography.

The Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility

View the video of this event here.

It is well-known that upward mobility in the United States is increasingly rare. But what are the costs for those who do make it? Philosopher Jennifer M. Morton argues that one cost that is often overlooked is ethical. Moving up can require that in order to gain educational and career opportunities that will propel one into the middle-class one has to make difficult sacrifices in many areas of one’s life that one finds valuable—one’s relationships with family and friends, one’s sense of cultural identity, and one’s place in one’s community. These costs are ‘ethical’ because they affect aspects of one’s life that give it value and meaning. How should we think about these trade-offs? Are they inevitable? And how can we help those on this path contend with these ethical challenges? Join us for this important discussion.


Jennifer M. Morton is an assistant professor of philosophy at the City College of New York and a senior fellow at the Center for Ethics and Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University and her A.B. from Princeton University. Professor Morton has published numerous journal articles in philosophy of action, moral philosophy, philosophy of education, and political philosophy. She is currently working on a book on the ethics of upward mobility.

Religion in Democratic Politics

View the video of this event here.

What role should religious conviction play in democratic policy-making?  Features of modern democratic societies intersect to render this question both essential and problematic.  Government policy in a democracy is supposed to reflect the will of the citizens, and in those societies citizens are free to practice any religion that they choose. So why shouldn’t democratic laws be based on, say, the moral teachings of the Bible, if the majority of the citizens desire it?  Well, modern citizens often disagree about religion, both in terms of its truth and its relevance.  Does this fact of religious disagreement mean that each citizen should avoid voting on the basis of their own religious conviction, or would that make modern democracy objectionably secular, inconsistent with the religious freedom a democratic society  is supposed to secure?  In this talk, Robert Talisse explores these questions and defends the view that, indeed, religious citizens have a moral duty to avoid voting on the basis of their religious conviction, but that this constraint is not inconsistent with freedom of religion.


Thursday, June 9 at 6pm. This event is part of the Philosophy Series at The Cornelia Street Café, located at 29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014 (near Sixth Avenue and West 4th St.). Admission is $9, which includes the price of one drink. Reservations are recommended (212. 989.9319)

Robert B.Talisse is Jones Professor of Philosophy and Chairperson of the Philosophy Department at Vanderbilt University.  He specializes in political philosophy, democratic theory, and ethics.  He is the author of many scholarly essays and several books, including Democracy and Moral Conflict (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and, most recently, Engaging Political Philosophy (Routledge, 2016).  Talisse earned his PhD in Philosophy in 2001 from the City University of New York.