Professor of Rhetoric
Department of Rhetoric
(510) 642-2172

Research Expertise and Interest

enlightenment, early Modern European intellectual history, 20th century European and American intellectual history, history and theory of media and technology, history of political thought


David Bates works on two main research tracks. The first is the history of political and legal thought, from the 17th century through the 20th century. He is particular interested in the relationship between violence, law, and political foundation. Topics range from early modern notions of the constitutional state, to 20th century ideas on emergency and political unity. He recently published "States of War: Enlightenment Origins of the Political" (Columbia Univ. Press, 2012) The other research track involves the history of science, technology, media, and cognition. Bates is working on a book that traces ideas of human "insight" in the era of modern science. The project begins with Descartes and early ideas concerning machines and thinking, and continues through major transformations in thought spurred by new technologies and new sciences of the body and nervous systems. The book will end with a study of cybernetics and digital media technology. The project aims to provide a critical history of "Artificial Intelligence" understood in the widest sense of the term.

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