Catalyst: Andrew Taggart


New Modality Catalyst:
Andrew Taggart, Philosopher


Profile edited by Katie MacBride

Photo courtesy of Andrew Taggart
Last update: February 20, 2020


Andrew Taggart is a practical philosopher, non-dualist, entrepreneur, and one of our NewMo Catalysts. Here's a bit more about him.

What’s your short bio?

I’m a practical philosopher, entrepreneur, and non-dualist, meaning that I ask and seek to answer the most basic questions of human existence with others around the world. After I finished my Ph.D. in 2009, I left academic life and moved to New York City because I thought the most basic question — how to live — needed to be brought back into our everyday lives. I philosophize with artists, executives, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists all over the world about the nature of a good life. My wife Alexandra, an artist, and I are currently exploring the American Southwest.

What are some of your own favorite past projects?  Why do you feel great about them?

One of my favorite experiments, which began in 2017, is still ongoing. Inspired by Marina Abramovic's durational art, "The Artist is Present" (2010), "The Philosopher is Not Present" combines philosophy and performance art with the intention of evoking mystery. My interlocutors sit while I'm seated in another city. A video communication product called Zoom is connecting us to each other, though the computer screen is blank.

One interlocutor comes and sits down, saying just, "I am here." I know nothing about him or her. Out of the darkness, I ask a question, the other supplying an answer. So it goes.

All participants keep their eyes closed throughout the performance. Each conversation, almost entirely improvised, is approximately eight minutes long. Neither the Questioner nor the Answerer knew much, if anything, about one another. The entire performance builds on itself from beginning to end.

The first aim of this performance is to help interlocutors confront the great unthought. The second aim is, by confronting the great unthought, to awaken some to matters of ultimate concern.


"In my biggest, most out-there dream... people would realize that they're thrown into the world and that their chief responsibility is to contemplate what this mystery is and why they are here."


What’s your biggest, most out-there dream of a better world?

The world as we know it would be flipped entirely on its head. People would realize that they're thrown into the world and that their chief responsibility is to contemplate what this mystery is and why they are here. Individuals, who were not just individuals, would devote themselves to loving contemplation in and through art, which would evoke the beautiful; philosophy, which begins in wonderment; science, which affords us rise to empirical and theoretical knowledge of the universe; and religion or spirituality, which puts us in touch with a greater abiding reality. 

Cities would be organized on human scales and nation-states would wither away. Various networks would link these city-states one to another. Here, in addition to dwelling in contemplation, people would live according to regenerative design principles (ecology) while at the same time seeking the common good (politics). 

People would work very little and would take work to be of modest importance--important just insofar as it justly and reasonably sustained sentient life. Love (or compassion), beauty, truth, justice, and wisdom would instead be the fundamental virtues by which people lived.


New Modality Catalysts

The New Modality is about experiments in culture — and the people who do those experiments. NewMo Catalysts are people who do things we admire and want to celebrate. They also help us stay accountable to our values. To learn more about NewMo Catalysts (or nominate someone to be a Catalyst), check out the Catalyst FAQ.

This profile was edited by Katie MacBride. Katie is a writer and co-founder of Anxy magazine. More about Katie at her NewMo profile

The information in our Catalyst profiles usually comes directly from the subjects, and we usually don't fact-check them. You can learn more about The New Modality's fact-checking and epistemological ideas by reading the page about our process for truth and transparency.