Liesbeth Noordegraaf-Eelens and Jos de Mul, The sovereign debt crisis or Sophie’s choice. On European tragedies, guilt and responsibility. Heinrich Böll Stiftung. European Union. December 21, 2011.
Does it matter at all?
The year 2011 will probably be known for its quick succession of Euro summits. They all had a similar, tragic outline. Every summit started with good intentions: this would be the summit bringing the solution for the crisis. As a result, expectations ran sky high and financial markets lifted. As the summit came closer, expectations were moderated, ballyhooing tempered, rumors about failures spread, and possible solutions were put into doubt. During – or just before – the summit, it became clear that although some solution was to be expected, it definitely would not be the solution. For a moment markets had seemed relieved after the summits, but within a few days pessimism took over. Instead of restoring confidence the summit had further weakened it: once again it became clear that this was not the final solution; once again a new summit would be needed. Just as in Greek tragedy, every next step seems to bring us closer to the final catastrophe.
Jos de Mul. Horizons of Hermeneutics: Intercultural Hermeneutics in a Globalizing World. Frontiers of Philosophy in China. Vol. 6, No. 4 (2011), 628-655.
DOI: 10.1007/s11466-011-0159-x (DOI) 10.1007/s11466-011-0159-x
Abstract Starting from the often-used metaphor of the “horizon of experience” this article discusses three different types of intercultural hermeneutics, which respectively conceive hermeneutic interpretation as a widening of horizons, a fusion of horizons, and a dissemination of horizons. It is argued that these subsequent stages in the history of hermeneutics have their origin in—but are not fully restricted to—respectively premodern, modern and postmodern stages of globalization. Taking some striking moments of the encounter between Western and Chinese language and philosophy as example, the particular merits and flaws of these three types of hermeneutics are being discussed. The claim defended is that although these different types of hermeneutics are mutually exclusive from a theoretical point of view, as interpreting beings in the current era we depend on each of these distinct hermeneutic practices and cannot avoid living on them simultaneously.
Keywords intercultural hermeneutics, globalization, horizon of interpretation, premodernism, modernism, postmodernism
Jos de Mul. Wittgenstein 2.0: Philosophical reading and writing after the mediatic turn. In: A. Pichler & H. Hrachovec (eds.) Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Information. Proceedings of the 30th International Ludwig Wittgenstein-Symposium in Kirchberg, 200 Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society. New Series, Vol 6. Heusenstamm: Ontos Verlag, 157-183.
Wittgenstein 2.0: Philosophical reading and writing after the mediatic turn
Wir sind aufs Glatteis geraten, wo die Reibung fehlt, also die Bedingungen in gewissem Sinne ideal sind, aber wir eben deshalb auch nicht gehen können.
Glattes Eis, ein Paradies für den, der gut zu tanzen weiß.
‘Although Wittgenstein is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential philosophers of this century, there is very little agreement about the nature of his contribution. In fact, one of the most striking characteristics of the secondary literature on Wittgenstein is the overwhelming lack of agreement about what he believed and why’. These are the opening words of David Stern’s article ‘The availability of Wittgenstein’s philosophy’ in The Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein (Stern 1996, 442). In his introduction to the same volume, Hans Sluga even proposes that our fascination with Wittgenstein might be ‘a function of our bewilderment over who he really is and what his works stand for’ (Sluga 1996, 1).
Tragedy and repetition. XPONIKA AIΣΘHTIKHΣ / Annales d'esthetique / Annals for Aesthetics, Vol.46. Volume B (2011), 191-202.
Abstract According to writers such as Nietzsche, Steiner, and Oudemans and Lardinois the tragic culture of the Greeks has become entirely alien to us. They argue that within the Christian and modern worldview there is no place for tragedy anymore. In this article it is claimed that this does not entail in any shape or form that tragic events cannot take place anymore within Christian and modern culture. In modern culture this particularly happens, with no lack of tragic irony, precisely in the domain in which we believed tragedy had been eliminated: (our interaction with) technology.
Although technological tragedies differ in many respects from classical tragedies, they also show deep continuities. Just as in the case of their classical models, the behavior of the tragic heroes of our time is characterized by miscalculation (hamartia), blindness (atè) with regard to the tragic reality and foolhardiness (hybris).Now, tragic events do not automatically raise tragic awareness. Tragedies are characterized by the fact that the tragic heroes – unlike the spectators – are unaware of the fate that is befalling them, and coming about because of them. But most tragedies also have a reversal of circumstances (peripéteia), a moment at which hopeful expectation crumbles and the hero suddenly becomes aware of his tragic position. Postmodernity is another way of saying that modern culture recognizes itself as tragic.
Jos de Mul. The biotechnological sublime. In: Ken-ichi Sasaki (ed.), Aesthetics beyond Art. Special issue of Diogenes. to be published in 2013.
Abstract The notion of the sublime, which since the nineteenth century is one of the dominant aesthetic categories, is strongly connected with (the artistic representation of) overwhelming nature. In this article it is argued that in the course of the 20th century the sublime increasingly becomes entangled with the experience of technology. However, in the age of biotechnologies, such as genetic modification and synthetic biology, the sublime regains a natural dimension. Taking Eduard Kac’s Alba fluo rabbit (a ‘transgenic’ bunny, that resulted from the injection of green fluorescent protein of a Pacific jellyfish into the egg of an Albino rabbit) as an example, it will be argued that in the age of biotechnology the difference between nature, technology and art will gradually vanish, and new dimensions of the sublime will become manifest.
Jos de Mul. The game of life. Narrative and ludic identity formation in computer games. In: J. Goldstein and J. Raessens,Handbook of Computer Games Studies. Cambridge MA (MIT Press), 2005, 251-266.
Human identity is not a self-contained entity, hidden in the depths of our inner self, but is actively constructed in a social world with the aid of various expressions, such as social roles, rituals, clothes, music, and (life) stories. These expressions not only mediate between us and our world (referentiality) and between us and our fellow man (communicability), but also between us and ourselves (self-understanding). Consequently, changes in these mediating structures reflect changes in the relationship between us and our world, in our social relationships, and in our self-conception.
In recent decades the domain of expressions has been (massively1) extended by computer games and, as a result, we witness the emergence of a new tool for identity formation. In this chapter I shall examine the way computer games construct our identity in comparison with traditional narrative media, such as novels and movies. My investigation is primarily philosophical: it aims at a conceptual clarification of the relationship between ( playing) computer games and human identity. However, though this study is not empirical, one of its aims is to contribute to the theoretical framework for empirical research in this field. The theoretical starting point of my investigation is Ricoeur’s theory of narrative identity. I will argue that this theory provides a fruitful conceptual framework for understanding the way playing computer games construct personal identity. However, because his theory exclusively focuses on standard linguistic narratives, we will have to amend this theory in order to apply it within the domain of computer games.
I will develop the argument in three sections, starting with a short analysis of the concept of identity. Against this background, I explain Ricoeur’s theory of narrative identity and discuss some constraints that prevent its application to computer games. In the next section, after a short analysis of the concepts of play, game, and computer game, I discuss the narrative dimension of computer games and the interactive dimension that distinguish computer games fundamentally from narratives. Then I present an outline of a theory of ludic identity, and discuss the transformation in our present culture from narrative to ludic identity construction. Finally, I formulate some aspects of this transformation that are crucial for its evaluation.
Jos de Mul. (together with Maarten Cooplen & Huib Ernste, eds.), Artificial by Nature. Plessner's Philosophical Anthropology. Perspectives and Prospects. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2012.
Jos de Mul. The work of art in the age of digital recombination. In J. Raessens, M. Schäfer, M. v. d. Boomen, Lehmann and S. A.-S. & Lammes (eds.), Digital Material: Anchoring New Media in Daily Life and Technology. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, May 2009, 95-106.
Artists, from the prehistoric painters who engraved and painted figures on cave walls to new media artists whose work depends on computer technologies, have always used media. Media, used here in the broad sense as ‘means for presenting information’, are not innocent means. Ever since Kant’s Copernican revolution, we know that experience is constituted and structured by the forms of sensibility and the categories of human understanding, and after the so-called linguistic and mediatic turns in philosophy, it is generally assumed that media play a crucial role in the configuration of the human mind and experience. Media are interfaces that mediate not only between us and our world (designation), but also between us and our fellow man (communication), and between us and ourselves (self-understanding). Aesthetic experience is no exception: artistic media are interfaces that not only structure the imagination of the artist, but the work of art and the aesthetic reception as well.
In this paper I aim to contribute to this reflection by analyzing the way the computer interface constitutes and structures aesthetic experience. My point of departure will be Walter Benjamin‘s ‘The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction‘, first published in the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung in 1936. In this epochal essay Benjamin investigates how mechanical reproduction transforms the work of art, claiming that in this ontological transformation the cult value, which once characterized the classical work of art, has been replaced by exhibition value. The thesis I will defend in this paper is, firstly, that in the age of digital recombination, the database constitutes the ontological model of the work of art and, secondly, that in this transformation the exhibition value is being replaced by what we might call manipulation value.
Jos de Mul. Cyberspace Odyssey. Towards a Virtual Ontology and Anthropology. Castle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010, 334 p.
The emergence of the hominids, more than five million years ago, marked the start of the human odyssey through space and time. This book deals with the last stage of this fascinating journey: the exploration of cyberspace and cybertime. Through the rapid global implementation of information and communication technologies, a new realm for human experience and imagination has been disclosed. Reversely, these postgeographical and posthistorical technologies have started to colonize our bodies and minds. Taking Homer’s Odyssey and Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as his starting point, the author investigates the ‘informatization of the worldview’, focusing on its implications for our culture–arts, religion, and science–and, ultimately, our form of life.
Moving across a wide range of disciplines, varying from philosophical anthropology and palaeontology to information theory, and from astrophysics to literary, film and new media studies, the author discusses our ‘cyberspace odyssey’ from a reflective position beyond euphoria and nostalgia. His analysis is as profound as nuanced and deals with issues that will be high on the agenda for many decades to come.
In 2003 a Dutch Edition of Cyberspace Odyssey received the Socrates Prize for the best philosophy book published in Dutch.