Professor David Bates is currently working on two book projects. The first, States of War: Enlightenment Origins of the Political, uses close readings of Natural Law theory and Enlightenment political theory and contextual analysis of war and violence in Europe to argue for the invention of a new “concept of the political” in the Enlightenment. This autonomous idea of the political offers a new way of thinking about the perennial conflict between “constitutional” states and sovereign authority in crises.
The second project, entitled Human Insight from Descartes to Artificial Intelligence, is a study of the history of epistemology within the rationalist tradition, investigating theories of novelty and discovery in the context of material (and machinic) conceptions of mind and body. It ranges from early modern theories of mind, to 19th-century machines, psychology, early computers, cybernetics, and modern Artificial Intelligence theories. Finally, he hopes to prepare a collection of essays on twentieth-century political thought and legal thought, centered on the work of Carl Schmitt and Hannah Arendt.
Bates was the director of the Berkeley Center for New Media from 2010-2013 and chair of the Rhetoric department from 2014-2017.