The Philosophy of Movement

An Introduction

2024
Author:

Thomas Nail
Foreword by Daniel W. Smith

An influential thinker distills years of work on the philosophy of movement into one accessible account

Synthesizing and extending many years of influential work, The Philosophy of Movement is a comprehensive argument for how motion is the primary force in human and natural history. Thomas Nail interrogates the consequences of movement throughout history and in daily life in the twenty-first century, drawing connections and tracing patterns between scales of reality, periods of history, and fields of knowledge to offer a contemporary philosophy.

Why are city dwellers worldwide walking on average ten percent faster than they were a decade ago? Why are newcomer immigrant groups so often maligned when migration has always constituted civilization? To analyze and understand the depth of the reasons, Thomas Nail suggests that it serves us well to turn to a philosophy of movement. Synthesizing and extending many years of his influential work, The Philosophy of Movement is a comprehensive argument for how motion is the primary force in human and natural history.

Nail critiques the bias toward stasis at the core of Western thought, asking: what would a philosophy that began with the primacy of movement look like? Interrogating the consequences of movement throughout history and in daily life in the twenty-first century, he draws connections and traces patterns between scales of reality, periods of history, and fields of knowledge. In our age of rapid movements shaped by accelerating climate change and ensuing mass global migration, as well as ubiquitous digital media, Nail provides a contemporary philosophy that helps us understand how we got here and how to grapple with these interlocking challenges.

With a foreword by philosopher Daniel W. Smith, The Philosophy of Movement: An Introduction is a must-read for scholars and students not only of philosophy but also history, anthropology, science and technology studies, mobility studies, and other fields across the humanities and social sciences.

Thomas Nail is distinguished scholar and professor of philosophy at the University of Denver. He is author of many books, including Matter and Motion: A Brief History of Kinetic Materialism; Lucretius III: A History of Motion; Theory of the Object; and Being and Motion.

Daniel W. Smith is professor of philosophy at Purdue University. He has translated, from the French, books by Gilles Deleuze, Pierre Klossowski, Isabelle Stengers, and Michel Serres.

Contents

Foreword. Philosophy in Motion: Thomas Nail’s Kinetic Materialism

Daniel W. Smith

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Part I. Theory

1. Process Materialism

2. Matter and Motion

3. The Vortex and the Dendrite

4. Theory of History

5. Theory of Knowledge

Part II. History

6. History of Earth

7. Human Prehistory

8. The Ancient World

9. The Medieval and Early Modern Periods

10. Modernity

Part III. Ethics

11. Life and Death

12. Movement-Oriented Knowledges and the Ethics of Play

Conclusion: Questions and Criticisms

Notes

Index