Paniek in de Polder. Polytiek in tijden van populisme

Paniek in de Polder. Polytiek in tijden van populisme

Jos de Mul. Paniek in de Polder. Polytiek in tijden van populisme. Rotterdam: Lemniscaat, februari 2017. Uitgebreide en geactualiseerde editie…

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Plessner's Philosophical Anthropology. Perspectives and Prospects

Plessner's Philosophical Anthropology. Perspectives and Prospects

Jos de Mul. ( ed.), Plessner's Philosophical Anthropology. Perspectives and Prospects. Amsterdam/Chicago: Amsterdam University Press/Chicago University Press, 2014. Helmut Plessner (1892–1985)…

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2017-11-25 (Trouw) Hoe ik bijna boeddhist werd

2017-11-25 (Trouw) Hoe ik bijna boeddhist werd

Jos de Mul. Hoe ik bijna boeddhist werd. Trouw. Bijlage Letter en Geest, 25 november 2017, 14-18. Het gastenverblijf van…

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Destiny Domesticated. The Rebirth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Technology

Destiny Domesticated. The Rebirth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Technology

Jos de Mul. Destiny Domesticated. The Rebirth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Technology. State University of New York (SUNY)…

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Horizons of Hermeneutics

Horizons of Hermeneutics

Jos de Mul. Horizons of Hermeneutics: Intercultural Hermeneutics in a Globalizing World.  Frontiers of Philosophy in China. Vol. 6, No.…

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Thursday, 01 February 2018 12:57

Athens, or the Fate of Europe

Jos de Mul. Athens, or the Fate of Europe. Journal of Philosophical Research. Special supplement: Selected Papers from the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy. 2017: 221–227.

 

ABSTRACT: In his essay ‘The Idea of Europe’ George Steiner claims that European culture derives from “a primordial duality, the twofold inheritance of Athens and Jerusalem”. For Steiner, the relationship between Greek rationalism and Jewish religion, which is at once conflictual and syncretic, has engaged the entire history of European philosophy, morality, and politics. However, given this definition, at present the United States of America seem to be more European that ‘the old Europe’ itself. Against Steiner, it will be argued that in order to fathom the distinctive characteristic of European culture, we have to take a third European tradition into account, which is inextricably bound up with Athens: the tradition of Greek tragedy. If we may call Europe a tragic continent, it is not only because its history is characterised by an abundance of real political tragedies, but also because it embodies, as an idea and an ideal, a tragic awareness of the fragility of human life. Instead of reducing the ‘idea of Europe’ to a financial and economic issue, Europe should remain faithful to this idea and ideal.

 

First of all I like to thank the organizers for their invitation to join this symposium on Art and Cultures. As a tribute to the magnificent city of Athens and its inhabitants, I will talk about the relationship between European culture and the art form that is inextricably tied to the city of Athens: Greek tragedy. The thesis I will defend is that European culture distinguishes itself from other world cultures, and in particular from North-American culture, with which it shares both its Christian and its scientific worldview, by its deeply tragic character. This claim, I will argue, is neither a pessimistic nor an optimistic one, because tragedy is beyond this simple dichotomy. If I claim that Europe is a tragic continent, I refer both to its grandeur and pitfalls.

My talk consists of two parts. First, in a critical discussion with George Steiner, I will address the question of the identity of European culture. In the second part I will relate this identity to Greek tragedy.

Jos de Mul, Polycentricity and poly(ex)centricity - next levels of positionality? On telepresence, social insects, craniopagus twins & global brains. Invited lecture at the conference 'Natürliche Künstlichkeit’. Plessners anthropologisches Grundgesetz: Logik und Deutungskraft. Heidelberg: FEST, February 16.-17, 2018. 
 

Unsere Gesellschaft steht in den nächsten Jahren vor gewaltigen Herausforderungen. Bis 2050 soll die Transformation zu einer zukunftsfähigen Wirtschaft gelingen. Effizienz und Suffizienz sind hier die Schlagworte. In der politischen und praktischen Diskussion stehen beide Begriffe für unterschiedliche konzeptionelle Ansätze. Die Tagung will einen Beitrag zur Aufklärung dieser Konzepte leisten und Gestaltungsideen diskutieren. 

Bei Effizienz geht es primär um einen möglichst verbesserten Energie- und Ressourceneinsatz sowie eine minimale Umweltbelastung durch Emissionen und Abfälle. Dieses Konzept wird von Politik, Wirtschaft und Allgemeinheit zumeist positiv bewertet. Man glaubt, mit Effizienz die bisherige Wirtschafts- und Lebens-weise, ja sogar das Wirtschaftswachstum fortsetzen zu können, wenn auch in „begrünter“ Form und ohne größere Einschnitte. Dem stehen allerdings vielfach so genannte Rebound-Effekte entgegen: Mögliche Effizienzgewinne werden zunichte gemacht, weil Effizienzsteigerungen durch erhöhte Nutzung und Güterproduktion kompensiert werden.

Das Konzept der Suffizienz dagegen stellt das vorherrschende „Immer weiter, immer schneller, immer mehr“ bewusst in Frage. Dabei kommt neben der Warenproduktion und Erwerbsarbeit der informelle Sektor neu in den Blick – also Eigenarbeit, Selbstversorgung, gemeinsame Nutzung und Tausch von Gütern.
In der öffentlichen Debatte werden Effizienz und Suffizienz oft als gegensätzliche, sich ausschließende Strategien aufgefasst. Effizienz gilt häufig als wachstumsfördernd, Suffizienz dagegen vom Prinzip her als wachstumsmindernd. Wie so oft wird aber das Entweder-Oder der komplexen Realität nicht gerecht.

In dieser Veranstaltung sollen verschiedene Aspekte der beiden Strategieansätze und ihr Zusammenwirken beleuchtet und analysiert werden. Denn Effizienz und Suffizienz sind nicht immer trennbar, insbesondere nicht im Zeitablauf. Anhand konkreter Beispiele werden im Rahmen dieser Veranstaltung die Zusammenhänge veranschaulicht.

Published in Lectures
Jos de Mul. Exzentrische Positionalität 2.0. Lecture at the conference Mensch und Welt im Zeichen der
Digitalisierung. Leuphana Universität Luneberg, January 18 & 19, 2018.

Digitalisierung ist ein ebenso prominentes wie vielfältiges Phänomen – man könnte nachgerade von einem empty signifier sprechen. Veränderungen von Kommunikationswegen über das Internet, Algorithmisierung der Arbeitswelt, digitale Überwachung, virtual reality, Selbstvermessung, Pflegeroboter, diet tracking, artificial intel-ligence – die Liste der mit Digitalisierung verbundenen Phänomene ist ebenso heterogen wie unabschließbar. 
Viel ist angesichts dieser unübersehbaren Veränderungen über Digitalisierung bereits geforscht worden – und wiederum entsteht eine heterogene Vielfalt unterschiedlicher Phänomenzugriffe. Die Tagung schlägt einen spezifischen Schnitt durch diese Vielfalt vor. Weder soll dabei die angedeutete Vielfalt empirisch (etwa durch Fokussierung auf eine Digitalisierung der Ernährung), noch durch eine Vorab-Definition des Digitalen eingeengt werden (etwa durch Fokussierung auf Algorithmen).
Vielmehr gilt es, Digitalisierung aus einer spezifischen Theorieperspektive zu betrachten: der Perspektive der philosophischen Anthropologie Helmuth Plessners. Es geht mithin um die Frage, inwieweit sich das Verhältnis von Mensch und Welt im Zeichen von Digitalisierung verändert.

Die Tagung ist als Nachwuchstagung konzipiert, die von Studierenden der Leuphana Universität aus einem Seminarkontext heraus gestaltet wird. Als key note speaker sind Prof. Dr. Gesa Lindemann und Prof. Dr. Jos de Mul an der Konferenz beteiligt.

Wir freuen uns über zahlreiches Erscheinen,

Johannes Burow, Lou-Janna Daniels, Gianna-Maria Henkel, Anna Kaiser, Clemens Klinkhammer, Josefine Kulbatzki, Alexander Lange, Yannik Schütte
und Anna Henkel

Published in Lectures
Jos de Mul. The Earth Garden: Going Back or Going Forward to Nature? Frontiers of Philosophy in China. Vol.12 (2017) 2: 237-248.

Abstract Against the background of a short meditation on the contrasting ways in which landscape has been represented and idealized in Eastern and Western painting traditions, the article will try to show, using some striking examples, that the development of landscape painting in the last two centuries reflects the changing relationship of humanity and nature, leading in both the East and in the West to either the expression of a nostalgic longing for nature to be back as it once was, or to a gloomy expression of the vanishing of nature amidst the modern, technological world. Connecting to both the concept of “harmony,” which is a key concept in Eastern aesthetics, and to some recent reflections in Western philosophy on the relationship of nature and technology, a post-nostalgic conception of nature and natural beauty is defended, in which nature and technology are no longer seen as opposing categories, but rather as poles that are intertwined in an ever-lasting process of co-evolution. It is argued that we should not so much strive to go “back to nature,” but rather to go “forward to nature” and establish a new harmony between human and non-human nature and technology. The article ends with some reflections on the role artists and aestheticians may play in this transformation.

Keywords environmental pollution, environmental aesthetics, philosophy of nature, comparative aesthetics, philosophy of technology

Jos de Mul. Turkish Delight. In: Ayşen Savaş & Sevin Osmay (eds.), Jale Erzen Testimonial. Middle East  Technical University (METU) Press, 2017, 146-152.

Of all the times I met with Jale Erzen over the last couple of decades, our meeting in May 2002 was perhaps the most memorable. Jale had invited me to take part in the 6th International Symposium of SANART about Art and Social Engagement, held at the Middle East Technical University (METU). The Symposium took place shortly after 9/11, a time when many heated discussions were held in Turkey, just as in other countries, about the political Islam, the role of religion in society, and the separation of church and state, and in Ankara the tension was running high between the Kemalists and the politicians inspired by the Islam.  

Following the conference, I went on a short trip with Jale and about ten other philosophers, from five different continents, to the east of Turkey, which was planned by Jale. We flew to Diyarbakir and then travelled on by bus and later by jeep through the northern part of the virtual state of Kurdistan. It was a memorable trip because of several reasons. In the first place because of the awe-inspiring endless bleak mountains around us, in which the only humans living there seem to be goatherds herding their flocks in search of the last remnants of vegetation. It was difficult to imagine a bigger contrast with the polders in Zeeland where I grew up.  The impression the vast and rugged landscape made on me was intensified by the realisation that we were surrounded by thousands of years of history. This vast region situated 'between the rivers', the Euphrates and the Tigris, used to be called Mesopotamia in ancient times and was full of fig-, olive-, walnut- and pomegranate trees, vines and oleander bushes. According to tradition here was once the Biblical Garden of Eden.

Published in Book chapters
序言 约斯·德·穆尔. In: Zha Changping. World Relational Aesthetics. A History of Ideas in Pioneering Contemporary Chinese Art. Volume One. Shanghai: Sanlian, 2017, xiv-xvi, xvii-xx.

序言约斯·德·穆尔(鹿特丹伊拉斯谟大学)

    2006年,我来中国参加学术讲座,访问了不同的城市。这些城市各具千秋,例如乌鲁木齐和上海。我也参加了国际美学协会在成都举办的会议。会上,我第一次见到查常平先生。介绍我们认识的是一位共同的朋友:上海的历史学者陈新。在成都逗留期间,常平和我有几次对话。我还记得六月一个炎热的夜晚,我们和雕塑家朱成以及我妻子格里(Gerry)一起坐在府河边的露台上,讨论中国和欧洲的当代艺术、宗教和政治的状况,一面享受着四川美食和冰啤,一面看着露台上小孩快乐地玩耍。真是一个美好之夜,让我难以忘怀。

    一晃十多年过去了。此间,常平和我保持着联系。他的出版物我都拜读过(可惜只能读翻译成英文的那些作品,因为我不懂中文)。他产出之多、涉猎之广,令我钦佩,从艺术批评和艺术史——如丰富多彩的《向上成都,身体美学与场景凸现》(2013)——到历史逻辑、日本历史、新约研究和一系列翻译作品。更令我印象深刻的是:他深谙西方艺术理论并且能够灵活应用于汉语语境中。常平确实是一位全面的人文学者,善于运用启发性的跨文化研究方法。

Published in Book chapters
Jos de Mul. Preface. In: Zha Changping. World Relational Aesthetics. A History of Ideas in Pioneering Contemporary Chinese Art. Volume One. Shanghai: Sanlian, 2017, xiv-xvi, xvii-xx.

In 2006, as part of a lecture tour through China, which brought me to cities as different as Urumqi and Shanghai, I also participated in a conference of the International Association of Aesthetics in Chengdu. It was on this occasion that I met Zha Changping for the first time. I was introduced to him by a common friend of us, the Shanghai-based historian Chen Xin. During my stay in Chengdu, Changping and I had several conversations, and I especially remember one hot evening in June, whenwe, together with museum sculptor Zhu Cheng and my wife Gerry, were sitting on a terrace near the Fu river, discussing the state of contemporary art, religion and politics in China and Europe, meanwhile enjoying the delicious Sichuan food and cool beers and watching the joyful play of the little children on the terrace. It was a wonderful evening, to which my memories often return.

Since that first meeting more than ten years have passed, in which Changping and I kept in touch. I followed his publications (unfortunately only being able to read the English ones, as I am not able to read Chinese) and was impressed by his productivity andthe broad scope of his publications, ranging from art criticism and art history – such as the very informative Up-On Chengdu, Somatic Aesthetics and Scene Connection (2013) - to studies in the logic of history, Japanese history, New Testament studies, and a series of translations. What moreover impressed me was his profound familiarity with Western art theories and the creative way he applied them within a Chinese context. Changping proved to be all-round humanities scholar with an inspiring intercultural approach.

Published in Book chapters
Sunday, 15 October 2017 17:12

Human nature after Neo-Darwinism

Jos de Mul. Human nature after Neo-Darwinism. in: Eidos .A Journal for Philosophy of Culture.Special issue: Is the Category of Human Nature Still Relevant? Vol 1 (2017), 1: 5-17. 

 

Abstract

In the course of the 20th century the so-called Modern Synthesis of Neo-Darwinism has become the dominant paradigm in modern biology. First, it is explained how and why Darwin’s broad definition of evolution, in which the environment plays an important role, was narrowed down by Neo-Darwinism to a radical gene-centric view.  Next, the paradigm shift taking place today in ‘postgenomic’ evolutionary biology and genetics is discussed. It is argued that this shift opens the way to a more humane conception of evolution, more in line with Darwin’s view. Finally, I will discuss some of the implications of this paradigm shift for human self-reflection, taking The Music of Life. Biology Beyond Genes of systems biologist Denis Noble as a starting point.


Keywords

Neo-Darwinism, Dennis Noble, gene-centrism, postgenomics, agency, human self-reflection

Jos de Mul. From Yijing to Hypermedia: Some Notes on Computer-mediated Literary Theory and Criticism. In: Peng Feng (ed.), Aesthetics and Contemporary Art. International Yearbook of Aesthetics. Volume 16. Beijing University: 2016, 114-125.

The development and global dissemination of computers - from the mainframe computers in the middle of the 20th century up to the smart phones that enable us to be online everywhere at any time - has an enormous impact on virtually every domain in human life, including art and literature. In the past decades, we have witnessed the emergence of different kinds of new media, that – among many other things – also have given birth to new art forms and genres, such as computer animations, hypertext, and interactive netart. All these new (that is: computer-mediated) media can be called “hypermedia”, because they share two fundamental characteristics: they are media that are both multimedial and non-linear.

In this contribution I will discuss the impact of hypermedia on literary theory and criticism. More particularly, the question I will focus on in my lecture is: how to write about hypermedia? In what ways do hypermedia affect literary theory and literary criticism. However, when writing about hypermedia, literature can only be a point of departure of our examination. After all, hypermedia are media that absorb and thereby re-mediate the other “old media”, literature included.[1] And this, as I will argue, also applies to literary theory and literary criticism, which at least partly is going to be transformed into hypermedial criticism.

Published in Book chapters
Geert Maarse. Panic in the Polder. Interview with Jos de Mul. Erasmus Today, March 28, 2017.

Panic in the Polder or how the Netherlands can survive populism. Days before the Dutch elections professor Jos de Mul spoke on Erasmus Studio, presenting his book ‘Paniek in de polder’ (Panic in the Polder) in which he analyses the so called fight between ‘the people’ and ‘the elites’. He also explains the popularity of Donald Trump and Geert Wilders among populist voters. The question is: who are these populists? And is our democracy in crisis?

Published in Online publications
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