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Entrevista a Gastón Soublette - Parte I: La Sabiduría Tradicional - YouTube
"Realizada en Limache el 3 de octubre de 2015 en ocasión del Premio Nueva Civilización por su contribución al estudio y valorización de la cultura y la sabiduría popular creativa.
El Galardón será otorgado el Miércoles 25 de Noviembre, a las 18.30 hrs. en el marco del Simposio Internacional 'Desafíos de la Política en un Mundo Complejo', ocasión en que don Gastón Soublette ofrecerá una Conferencia Magistral."

[Parte II: El Arte
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjn8B-aSFaE

Parte III: La Cultura Mapuche
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N27LAd906yM

Parte IV: El Conocimiento Científico
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjEj-i0dcUs

Parte V: Filosofía y Educación
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neci7LTwH_8

Parte VI: Religión y Cultura
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neyEPrRH_oQ

Parte VII: Una Nueva Civilización
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=930FCVu9_7M ]
gastónsoublette  chile  history  mapuche  science  education  philosophy  culture  religion  civilization  future  art  music  tradition  oraltradition  oral  orality  diegoportales  improvisation  wisdom  mexico  precolumbian  inca  maya  aztec  quechua  literature  epics  araucaria  aesthetics  transcendentalism  myths  myth  arthistory  2015  perú 
19 days ago by robertogreco
Opinion | The Good-Enough Life - The New York Times
"Ideals of greatness cut across the American political spectrum. Supporters of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” and believers in Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again,” for instance, may find themselves at odds, but their differences lie in the vision of what constitutes greatness, not whether greatness itself is a worthy goal. In both cases — and in most any iteration of America’s idea of itself — it is.

The desire for greatness also unites the diverse philosophical camps of Western ethics. Aristotle called for practicing the highest virtue. Kant believed in an ethical rule so stringent not even he thought it was achievable by mortals. Bentham’s utilitarianism is about maximizing happiness. Marx sought the great world for all. Modern-day libertarians will stop at nothing to increase personal freedom and profit. These differences surely matter, but while the definition of greatness changes, greatness itself is sought by each in his own way.

Swimming against the tide of greatness is a counter-history of ethics embodied by schools of thought as diverse as Buddhism, Romanticism and psychoanalysis. It is by borrowing from D.W. Winnicott, an important figure in the development of psychoanalysis, that we get perhaps the best name for this other ethics: “the good-enough life.” In his book “Playing and Reality,” Winnicott wrote about what he called “the good-enough mother.” This mother is good enough not in the sense that she is adequate or average, but that she manages a difficult task: initiating the infant into a world in which he or she will feel both cared for and ready to deal with life’s endless frustrations. To fully become good enough is to grow up into a world that is itself good enough, that is as full of care and love as it is suffering and frustration.

From Buddhism and Romanticism we can get a fuller picture of what such a good enough world could be like. Buddhism offers a criticism of the caste system and the idea that some people have to live lives of servitude in order to ensure the greatness of others. It posits instead the idea of the “middle path,” a life that is neither excessively materialistic nor too ascetic. And some Buddhist thinkers, such as the 6th-century Persian-Chinese monk Jizang, even insist that this middle life, this good enough life, is the birthright of not only all humans, but also all of nature as well. In this radical vision of the good enough life, our task is not to make the perfect human society, but rather a good enough world in which each of us has sufficient (but never too many) resources to handle our encounters with the inevitable sufferings of a world full of chance and complexity.

The Romantic poets and philosophers extend this vision of good-enoughness to embrace what they would call “the ordinary” or “the everyday.” This does not refer to the everyday annoyances or anxieties we experience, but the fact that within what is most ordinary, most basic and most familiar, we might find a delight unimaginable if we find meaning only in greatness. The antiheroic sentiment is well expressed by George Eliot at the end of her novel “Middlemarch”: “that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” And its legacy is attested to in the poem “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye: “I want to be famous to shuffling men / who smile while crossing streets, / sticky children in grocery lines, / famous as the one who smiled back.”

Being good enough is not easy. It takes a tremendous amount of work to smile purely while waiting, exhausted, in a grocery line. Or to be good enough to loved ones to both support them and allow them to experience frustration. And it remains to be seen if we as a society can establish a good-enough relation to one another, where individuals and nations do not strive for their unique greatness, but rather work together to create the conditions of decency necessary for all.

Achieving this will also require us to develop a good enough relation to our natural world, one in which we recognize both the abundance and the limitations of the planet we share with infinite other life forms, each seeking its own path toward good-enoughness. If we do manage any of these things, it will not be because we have achieved greatness, but because we have recognized that none of them are achievable until greatness itself is forgotten."
ordinary  everyday  small  slow  2019  avramalpert  greatness  philosophy  buddhism  naomishihabnye  georgeeliot  interconnected  individualism  goodenough  virtue  ethics  romanticism  psychoanalysis  dwwinnicott  care  caring  love  life  living  classideas 
28 days ago by robertogreco
Jacobin Radio - The Dig: Astra Taylor on Democracy - Blubrry Podcasting
"Jacobin editor Alyssa Battistoni interviews Astra Taylor on her new film What is Democracy?, in which Astra asks ordinary people and political philosophers alike just that. The answers are often extraordinary and far more incisive than the mindless pablum emanating from Washington and its official interpreters. The film opens in New York on Wednesday January 16 at the IFC Center before traveling to theaters and campuses. Special guests on hand during opening week for live Q&As with Astra include Silvia Federici, Cornel West, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. For details, go to ifccenter.com/films/what-is-democracy. Those of us who don't live in New York can find other dates through the distributor at zeitgeistfilms.com. And if you want to bring this film to your school or town, and you really should, contact Zeitgeist Films!"

[See also:
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/02/astra-taylor-what-is-democracy-interview
https://www.thenation.com/article/astra-taylor-what-is-democracy-new-film-interview/
https://zeitgeistfilms.com/film/whatisdemocracy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHxRj9JWQMs

also available here:
https://www.thecut.com/2019/01/astra-taylor-what-is-democracy-women-interview.html
https://player.fm/series/jacobin-radio-1354006/the-dig-astra-taylor-on-democracy
https://podtail.com/en/podcast/jacobin-radio/the-dig-astra-taylor-on-democracy/ ]
astrataylor  alyssabattistoni  2019  democracy  us  inequality  statusquo  elitism  policy  politics  economics  keeanga-yamahttataylor  cornelwest  silviafederici  philosophy  labor  justice  capitalism  socialism  society  slavery 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Killing the Buddha
"Killing the Buddha is an online magazine of religion, culture, and politics. It began on November 13, 2000, when Peter Manseau and Jeff Sharlet invited readers who are both hostile and drawn to talk of God to join them in building an electronic Tower of Babel, a Talmudic cathedral of stories about faith lost and found. They named it after a saying of the Chinese Buddhist sage Lin Chi. Think of it like this:
After years on his cushion, a monk has what he believes is a breakthrough: a glimpse of nirvana, the Buddhamind, the big pay-off. Reporting the experience to his master, however, he is informed that what has happened is par for the course, nothing special, maybe even damaging to his pursuit. And then the master gives the student dismaying advice: If you meet the Buddha, he says, kill him.

Why kill the Buddha? Because the Buddha you meet is not the true Buddha, but an expression of your longing. If this Buddha is not killed he will only stand in your way.


In 2003, Utne Reader declared KtB one of the “fifteen websites that could shake the world.” Now, for more than a decade, through deaths and resurrections and few torch passings, KtB is still shaking it. In 2010, CNN said, “Killing the Buddha makes religion interesting again.”

KtB is much more than an online magazine. Under the umbrella of Margins of Faith, our 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we work to increase understanding about today’s living religions in relation to pressing social issues through public engagement and education. This includes:

• Publishing books with major presses, including Killing the Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible (Free Press, 2004), named one of Publishers Weekly’s best religion books of the year, and Believer, Beware: First Person Dispatches from the Margins of Faith (Beacon Press, 2009), which Library Journal called “shocking, exhilarating, and never dull.”
• Independently publishing pamphlets and chapbooks;
• Organizing live events around the United States, including readings, film screenings, panel discussions and lectures;
• Making space for spirited dialogue about a variety of marginalized issues, including the American prison system and LGBTQ concerns;
• Sponsoring retreats and workshops to support up-and-coming writers and artists.

We can only accomplish these things with the generous support of our readers. Please consider giving to KtB today."
religion  philosophy  culture  buddhism  jeffshartlet  petermanseau 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
THE JANUARY REPORT; Wayout West - The New York Times
"IF LOCATION is an indicator of lofty academic goals, then World College West, the smallest four-year liberal arts college accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, is perfectly placed: perched on a hillside near Petaluma in rural northern Marin County, Calif., with a view that could easily inspire Utopian thinking.

''World College West is the college of the future,'' said Rollo May, the eminent psychoanalyst, a past trustee and an ardent supporter of the college since its inception. ''Its graduates are the planetary citizens who will be harbingers of a new way of looking at the globe.''

But while the college's educational philosophy is as elevated as its panoramic view, of a valley dotted with dairy farms and pastures, its finances are precarious. With 120 undergraduates, 8 full-time faculty and 25 adjunct professors, it has just ended one of the most turbulent years since its founding in 1973. Its second president lasted less than a year; poor fund-raising efforts forced cutbacks, and a popular foreign-study program has been diverted from China to Taiwan because of turmoil on the mainland.

Moreover, while campus buzzwords like ''empowerment'' and ''stewardship'' recall the idealistic rhetoric of the 1960's, the college is struggling with the materialistic realities of the 1990's.

''Nontraditional 60's-style colleges in the vocational 70's and 80's are swimming against the tide, facing the hard reality that students have changed,'' said Robert Atwell, president of the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit organization representing all accredited postsecondary institutions and national higher education associations.

Mr. Atwell predicts that in the 1990's, entering freshmen, whose numbers are expected to increase, will demand more options, and the picture will change yet again. ''But the question is,'' he said, ''how does an undercapitalized institution survive until then?''

World College West, one of a handful of small, progressive, experimental institutions that appeared on the American educational landscape in the early 70's, was founded by Richard Gray, a former advertising creative director turned theologian and educator. Mr. Gray served as president until fall 1988, and continues his association with the college as an active fund-raiser.

''In the traditional academic setting, the undergraduate was getting lost in the shuffle,'' Mr. Gray said in a recent interview on campus. ''Nobody was paying attention to the developing person.''

He and the college's other founders designed an academic program to encourage that development, including giving students voice in the college's government and operation, and requiring students to work on campus and later in the community, and then to pursue independent projects abroad.

''I have to admit I was a skeptic when I first heard of the plans for World College West,'' said Paul Heist, retired professor of higher education at the University of California at Berkeley. ''But now I'm a convert to its mission of internationalism. Even though it's always been in financial straits, it has been a developing phenomenon for almost 20 years.''

When Mr. Gray retired, the college faced perhaps its most arduous task: replacing him. His successor, Marcus Franda, a professor of economics and comparative politics, was concerned that students were not learning the practical skills they wanted and needed to compete in the workplace. Among Mr. Franda's priorities were raising money for a science and computer building and supporting the new business management major.

Though his credentials were impeccable, his management style - perceived as autocratic - was anathema. He was not invited back. Now a director of international affairs and professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland in College Park, he is suing World College West for breach of contract and declined to comment on his association with the school.

Michael Stone, one of the college's original faculty members, serves as interim president, but over an institution with tenuous finances.

A budget of $2.4 million in early 1988 had fallen to $1.9 million when classes resumed in September. Although the school has raised an average of $1.3 million a year since academic year 1979, in 1989 it raised $675,000. With an endowment of only $147,000, that meant deferring a faculty position, giving a transportation coordinator's job to a graduate and consolidating administrative assistants' positions.

As it is, attracting 50 to 60 new students a year is not easy, said Charles Greene, the administrative vice president and also one of the first faculty members. ''We are very self-selecting,'' he said.

About 200 applications are received each year, mostly from California. The average age of freshmen is 20 1/2, the average combined Scholastic Aptitude Test scores are 1,060 with a grade point average of 3.2 and a college preparatory curriculum. Tuition is $7,500 a year; the college offers several scholarship programs.

DeAnne Redwine, a sophomore, is a typical student. She graduated from a 2,500-student high school in Dallas, and ''wanted something small.'' She was also drawn to the international program, having visited Mexico. ''My first international experience opened me up,'' she said. ''I realized I could do something meaningful with my life.''

Ms. Redwine is unusual, according to The American Freshman, an annual survey of values, beliefs and attitudes among 222,300 entering college freshmen. The fall 1989 survey shows a consistently increasing desire to make money and attain power, prestige and status, and a declining interest in developing a meaningful philosophy of life, serving the community and other such values.

''Despite the obstacles, I give this school a great chance,'' said Alexander Astin, professor of higher education and director of the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, which publishes the survey. ''I sense a move afoot -granted, a slow and plodding move - to focus more on those societal values. And World College West is one step ahead.''"
worldcollegewest  marin  marincountry  sanfrancisco  colleges  universities  philosophy  alternative  richardgray  fortcronkhite  dickgray  1990  education  highered  highereducation  learning  howwelearn 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
World College West - Wikipedia
[vi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mountain_College ]

"World College West was an undergraduate liberal arts college in Marin County, California. Founded by Dr. Richard M. Gray, it offered a program that integrated a grounding in the liberal arts with work-study and a required two-quarter "World Study" in a developing country. It opened with its first seven students on September 17, 1973.

Fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, World College West had programs in International Service and Development (ISD), International Environmental Studies (IES), Art and Society (AS), and Meaning, Culture, and Change (MCC). In later years, Business and International Business was added to the program line-up. ISD focused on the economic, political, and social development of "Third World" nations; IES concentrated on the wise use and global conservation of natural resources; AS examined the relationship between culture and the performing and visual arts; and MCC focused on the variety of ways in which the world's diverse cultures, through their systems of religion, philosophy, and tradition, give meaning and purpose to human life, and to the world around us.

The college's World Study Programs were established in China, Mexico, Nepal, India, Ghana, and Russia. Students could spend two quarters (six months) studying in both an urban and rural setting in one of these countries. During the urban stay, students lived with a host family and attended regularly scheduled language, culture, and history classes. During the rural stay, students again lived with host families and conducted independent research studies while continuing to learn the country's language.

The college placed a special emphasis on work-study and internships, because the founders of the college believed that learning occurred best through "disciplined reflection on experience". Once an area of study was selected, students were required to complete 480 internship hours in their field of study as part of their graduation requirement.

During its first few years, the College leased space on the campus of the San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, followed by several years in surplus army barracks at Fort Cronkhite on the Pacific Ocean. In the early 1980s the college built and moved to a permanent campus off U.S. Highway 101 in the rolling hills of northern Marin County, between Novato and Petaluma (now the home of the Institute of Noetic Sciences).

World College West closed due to inadequate funding in Fall of 1992, the result of difficulties in succession after its founding president retired. The spirit of WCW lives on in Dick Gray's successor institution Presidio Graduate School[1]. The hundreds of WCW alumni call themselves "Westies"."
worldcollegewest  marin  marincountry  sanfrancisco  colleges  universities  philosophy  alternative  richardgray  fortcronkhite  dickgray  education  highered  highereducation  learning  howwelearn 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Bay Area Disrupted: Fred Turner on Vimeo
"Interview with Fred Turner in his office at Stanford University.

http://bayareadisrupted.com/

https://fredturner.stanford.edu

Graphics: Magda Tu
Editing: Michael Krömer
Concept: Andreas Bick"
fredturner  counterculture  california  opensource  bayarea  google  softare  web  internet  history  sanfrancisco  anarchism  siliconvalley  creativity  freedom  individualism  libertarianism  2014  social  sociability  governance  myth  government  infrastructure  research  online  burningman  culture  style  ideology  philosophy  apolitical  individuality  apple  facebook  startups  precarity  informal  bureaucracy  prejudice  1960s  1970s  bias  racism  classism  exclusion  inclusivity  inclusion  communes  hippies  charism  cultofpersonality  whiteness  youth  ageism  inequality  poverty  technology  sharingeconomy  gigeconomy  capitalism  economics  neoliberalism  henryford  ford  empowerment  virtue  us  labor  ork  disruption  responsibility  citizenship  purpose  extraction  egalitarianism  society  edtech  military  1940s  1950s  collaboration  sharedconsciousness  lsd  music  computers  computing  utopia  tools  techculture  location  stanford  sociology  manufacturing  values  socialchange  communalism  technosolutionism  business  entrepreneurship  open  liberalism  commons  peerproduction  product 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Just Research in Contentious Times 9780807758731 | Teachers College Press
"In this intensely powerful and personal new text, Michelle Fine widens the methodological imagination for students, educators, scholars, and researchers interested in crafting research with communities. Fine shares her struggles over the course of 30 years to translate research into policy and practice that can enhance the human condition and create a more just world. Animated by the presence of W.E.B. DuBois, Gloria Anzaldúa, Maxine Greene, and Audre Lorde, the book examines a wide array of critical participatory action research (PAR) projects involving school pushouts, Muslim American youth, queer youth of color, women in prison, and children navigating under-resourced schools. Throughout, Fine assists readers as they consider sensitive decisions about epistemology, ethics, politics, and methods; critical approaches to analysis and interpretation; and participatory strategies for policy development and organizing. Just Research in Contentious Times is an invaluable guide for creating successful participatory action research projects in times of inequity and uncertainty.

Book Features:

• Reviews the theoretical and historical foundations of critical participatory research.
• Addresses why, how, with whom, and for whom research is designed.
• Offers case studies of critical PAR projects with youth of color, Muslim American youth, indigenous and refugee activists, and LGBTQ youth of color.
• Integrates critical race, feminist, postcolonial, and queer studies."
michellefine  toread  webdubois  gloriaanzaldúa  maxinegreene  audrelorde  participatory  research  paricipatoryactionresearch  justice  methodology  queer  postcolonialism  objectivity  subjectivity  strongobjectivity  ethics  politics  methods  education  feminism  philosophy  situated  uncertainty  inequality  inequit  dialogue  criticalparticipatoryactionresearch  inquiry  distance  bias  epispemology 
november 2018 by robertogreco
One Hour One Life
"a multiplayer survival game of parenting and civilization building by Jason Rohrer"



"This game is about playing one small part in a much larger story. You only live an hour, but time and space in this game is infinite. You can only do so much in one lifetime, but the tech tree in this game will take hundreds of generations to fully explore. This game is also about family trees. Having a mother who takes care of you as a baby, and hopefully taking care of a baby yourself later in life. And your mother is another player. And your baby is another player. Building something to use in your lifetime, but inevitably realizing that, in the end, what you build is not for YOU, but for your children and all the countless others that will come after you. Proudly using your grandfather's ax, and then passing it on to your own grandchild as the end of your life nears. And looking at each life as a unique story. I was this kid born in this situation, but I eventually grew up. I built a bakery near the wheat fields. Over time, I watched my grandparents and parents grow old and die. I had some kids of my own along the way, but they are grown now... and look at my character now! She's an old woman. What a life passed by in this little hour of mine. After I die, this life will be over and gone forever. I can be born again, but I can never live this unique story again. Everything's changing. I'll be born as a different person in a different place and different time, with another unique story to experience in the next hour..."



"The thinking behind One Hour One Life [a YouTube playlist]

"How to Deal With A Crisis of Meaning" (The School of Life)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu8d3iW2yxM

"Bonsai: the Endless Ritual | Extraordinary Rituals | Earth Unplugged"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEGevD5jd64

"Power of the Market - The Pencil"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5Gppi-O3a8

"Primitive Technology: Forge Blower"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVV4xeWBIxE

"The Game Design Challenge 2011: Bigger Than Jesus Panel at GDC 2011"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAG6XzGah8Q

"Last Day Dream"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWlbZO92ZyA

"334 Time Life - Rock A Bye Baby - 1976"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63fBJPFPCbs "
games  gaming  videogames  jasonrohrer  civilization  parenting  philosophy  gamedesign  small  change  purpose  meaningoflife  meaning  generations  srg  edg 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Marxism 101: How Capitalism is Killing Itself with Dr. Richard Wolff - YouTube
"Despite a concerted effort by the U.S. Empire to snuff out the ideology, a 2016 poll found young Americans have a much more favorable view of socialism than capitalism.

Though he died 133 years ago, the analysis put forward by one of the world’s most influential thinkers, Karl Marx, remains extremely relevant today. The Empire’s recent rigged presidential election has been disrupted by the support of an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, by millions of voters.

To find out why Marx’s popularity has stood the test of time, Abby Martin interviews renowned Marxist economist Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at UMass - Amherst, and visiting professor at the New School in New York.

Prof. Wolff gives an introduction suited for both beginners and seasoned Marxists, with comprehensive explanations of key tenets of Marxism including dialectical and historical materialism, surplus value, crises of overproduction, capitalism's internal contradictions, and more."
richardwolff  karlmarx  academia  academics  capitalism  accounting  us  inequality  communism  socialism  marxism  berniesanders  labor  idealism  materialism  radicalism  philosophy  dialecticalmaterialism  humans  systems  change  friedrichengels  slavery  automation  credit  finance  studentdebt  poverty  unions  organization  systemschange  china  russia  ussr  growth  2016  power  democracy  collectives  collectivism  meansofproduction  society  climatechange  environment  sustainability  rosaluxemburg  militaryindustrialcomplex  pollution  ethics  morality  immorality  ows  occupywallstreet  politics  corruption 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Mary Midgley - The Gifford Lectures
"An interviewer from the Guardian newspaper once wrote that Mary Midgley ‘may be the most frightening philosopher in the country: the one before whom it is least pleasant to appear a fool’. In a series of books, particularly Beast and Man (1978), Evolution as a Religion (1985),Science as Salvation (1992; her 1990 Edinburgh Gifford Lectures) and Science and Poetry(2001), Midgley offers a trenchant critique of science’s pretence to be much more than it actually is, of the ways in which science often becomes a religion.

Perhaps appropriately, Midgley the scourge of ‘science as religion’ was born to an army and Cambridge college chaplain, Canon Tom Scrutton, and educated in a boarding school in Charles Darwin’s old home, Downe House. Perhaps Midgley’s fascination with science came from her mother’s side; Lesley Hay’s father was an engineer who built the Mersey tunnel. It was in the Downe House library that Midgley first picked up Plato, and, in her own words, ‘thought it was tremendous stuff’ (although in later life perhaps Aristotelian questions have proved more fascinating). By this time, Midgley also realised that she was not a Christian, a position her clergyman father accepted rather matter-of-factly. Nevertheless, Midgley remains convinced that ‘the religious attitude’ is essential to human thriving, and in her work has repeatedly defended the place of religious belief (rather than particular religious beliefs) against its arrogant critics from the sciences.

A number of Midgley’s contemporaries at Somerville College, Oxford, went on to achieve philosophical distinction in later life, including Iris Murdoch, another Edinburgh Gifford Lecturer, with whom Midgley became a close friend. Midgley relished doing philosophy in wartime Oxford, partly because there wasn’t ‘an endless gaggle of young men’ to offer distraction. But she considered it ‘providential’ that she did not get the post she applied for at St. Hugh’s College, and left Oxford, since she thought that the then-prevailing climate of Oxford philosophy would have destroyed her as a philosopher.

She met Geoffrey Midgley while at Oxford. They married in 1950 at Newcastle, where Geoffrey had a job. She then raised a family and did not take up a post in the Department of Philosophy in Newcastle until 1962, where she remained until she retired as Senior Lecturer when the department closed.

Midgley’s animated critique of scientism—science become religion—has been taken by some, especially scientists, as an attack on science itself. This may partly be because Midgley seems much more adept at demolishing others’ positions than in stating her own clearly. In fact, Midgley’s critique of science should be seen against her own metaphor of the philosopher as plumber: the philosopher, like the plumber, engages in an activity that civilisation depends on, but it is an activity which people only notice and require when certain rather essential workings have gone wrong. At her best, Midgley is a ‘science critic’ (using the word ‘critic’ in the way it is used in ‘literary critic’), seeking dialogue with the important activity called science to enable it to do more good and less harm in the modern world. Midgley’s contribution to this project is perhaps largely that of negative criticism. However, her friendship with and support for James Lovelock, the scientist who developed the Gaia hypothesis (that the planet earth as a whole is a living system), tells us a lot about her positive beliefs. Presumably, in Lovelock, she finds a scientific approach that is more congenial and conducive to human flourishing."
marymidgley  scientism  2018  philosophy  behavior  humans  richarddawkins  eowilson  evolution  thinking  science  religion  theselfishgene  selfishness  society  feminism  cognition  humannature  animals  sociobiology  reductionism  christianity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Mary Midgley, 99, Moral Philosopher for the General Reader, Is Dead - The New York Times
"The biologist Stephen Rose, writing in The Times Literary Supplement in 1992, called Dr. Midgley “a philosopher with what many have come to admire, and some to fear, as one of the sharpest critical pens in the West.”

Andrew Brown, writing in The Guardian in 1981, called her “the foremost scourge of scientific pretension in this country.”

Dr. Midgley unhesitatingly challenged scientists like the entomologist Edward O. Wilson and the biologist, and noted atheist, Richard Dawkins. By her lights they practiced a rigid “academic imperialism” when they tried to extend scientific findings to the social sciences and the humanities.

In place of what she saw as their constricted, “reductionistic” worldview, she proposed a holistic approach in which “many maps” — that is, varied ways of looking at life — are used to get to the nub of what is real.

One challenge came in 1978 in her first book, “Beast and Man: The Roots of Human Nature,” based on a conference she had organized on that slippery, perennial subject as a visiting scholar at Cornell University.

She was later asked to revise her original manuscript to reflect her critical reaction to Professor Wilson’s best-selling 1975 book, “Sociobiology: The New Synthesis” (“a volume the size of a paving stone,” she wrote later in a well-received 2005 autobiography, “The Owl of Minerva”). She described the field of sociobiology as a kind of reactionary “biological Thatcherism.”

Sociobiology — the application of gene-centered theories of natural selection to the social life of organisms — was not itself overly controversial, especially, as Professor Wilson originally used it, in the study of ants and insects. Dr. Midgley, given her own interest in emphasizing humans’ animal nature — that “we are not, and do not need to be, disembodied intellects” — praised parts of Professor Wilson’s book.

What provoked her and others was his hypothesis that the tenets of sociobiology could be applied to humans. That idea, according to scholars, threatened to radically revise generally accepted notions of human nature.

“The term ‘human nature’ is suspect because it does suggest cure-all explanations, sweeping theories that man is basically sexual, basically selfish or acquisitive, basically evil or basically good,” Dr. Midgley wrote in “Beast and Man.”

In “The Owl of Minerva,” she wrote that the need to address Professor Wilson’s concepts had distracted readers from her crucial topic: “the meaning of rationality itself — the fact that reason can’t mean just deductive logic but must cover what makes sense for beings who have a certain sort of emotional nature.”

She added that “Beast and Man” remained “the trunk out of which all my various later ideas have branched.”

Dr. Midgley took pains to distinguish between the important contributions of science and the philosophy of “scientism,” in which “prophets,” she wrote, decree that science is “not just omnicompetent but unchallenged, the sole form of rational thinking.”

“We do not need to esteem science less,” she continued. “We need to stop isolating it artificially from the rest of our mental life.”

Dr. Midgley did not align herself with any specific school of thought: She wrote that moral philosophy and plain “common sense” often covered the same ground. She targeted what she saw as some of the basic errors of modern scientific orthodoxy, including misplaced objectivity, the exclusion of purpose and motive, and the propensity to depersonalize nature.

The very titles of her books — among them “Science as Salvation: A Modern Myth and Its Meaning” (1992) and “Evolution as a Religion” (1985) — and even irreverent chapter headings, like “Knowledge Considered as a Weed Killer,” conveyed her stance against what she called the “parsimonious” worldview of science.

In 1979, in the journal Philosophy, she issued a scathing critique of Professor Dawkins’s widely popular book “The Selfish Gene,” taking issue with what she called his “crude, cheap, blurred genetics.”

In that book, Professor Dawkins suggested that evolution is a product of an innate drive in genes to perpetuate themselves, “selfishly,” through the vehicle of a given species, and that the behavior of living things is in service to their genes.

Dr. Midgley explained her disagreement years later in The Guardian, writing: “Selfish is an odd word because its meaning is almost entirely negative. It does not mean ‘prudent, promoting one’s own interest.’ It means ‘not promoting other people’s’ or, as the dictionary puts it, ‘devoted to or concerned with one’s own advantage to the exclusion of regard for others.’”

She refuted the notion that selfishness underpinned all life.

“Just as there would be no word for white if everything was white, there could surely be no word for selfish if everyone was always selfish,” she wrote, adding, “Selfishness cannot, then, be a universal condition.”

In a long career as a published philosopher, Dr. Midgley addressed a great number of subjects. Evolution, the importance of animals, the role of science in society, cognitive science, feminism and human nature all came under her scrutiny.

She ranged more widely in “Science and Poetry” (2001), in which she considered the place of the imagination in human life. She found excesses of materialism and fatalism in human life, discussed the unusual compatibility of physics and religion, and approved of philosophical and metaphorical aspects of the Gaia hypothesis, which looks at the earth as a living system.

“With this book,” Brian Appleyard wrote in The Sunday Times of London, “Professor Midgley establishes herself as the most cool, coherent and sane critic of contemporary superstition that we have.”"
marymidgley  scientism  2018  philosophy  behavior  humans  richarddawkins  eowilson  evolution  thinking  science  religion  theselfishgene  selfishness  society  feminism  cognition  humannature  animals  sociobiology  reductionism  christianity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Mary Midgley obituary | Education | The Guardian
"Philosopher who brought a sharp critical intelligence and a gift for vivid metaphor to her writing on human behaviour"



"In 1931, Mary was sent to Downe House. This progressive boarding school started in Charles Darwin’s old home, although by the time Mary was a pupil it had moved to Ash Green, near Newbury. She won a scholarship to Oxford to read Classical Greats and, arriving at Somerville College in 1938, became one of a strikingly able and forceful group of women philosophers. Elizabeth Anscombe had arrived at Oxford the year before, Iris Murdoch, who became a close friend, was an exact contemporary, and Philippa Foot arrived a year later. The work of this interesting quartet of thinkers has recently become the object of revived interest in the contribution of women to philosophy during the last century.

Mary graduated with a first in 1942 and for the remainder of the war worked mainly as a civil servant. From 1945-47 she was secretary to the classical scholar Gilbert Murray, after which she returned to philosophy, starting a thesis on the psychology of Plotinus. She tutored at Somerville and lectured at the University of Reading from 1948 until 1950.

At this point it looked as if an academic career of a familiar shape might be opening up. But instead, in 1950, she married a fellow philosopher, Geoffrey Midgley, whom she had first met in Oxford in 1945. He was lecturing at what later became the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, but was then King’s College of the University of Durham. He and Mary set up house together in Newcastle and had three sons over the next five years.

Mary turned to journalism, reviewing children’s books and novels for the New Statesman and the BBC Third Programme. She also read extensively in (among other things) psychology, anthropology, evolutionary theory and animal behaviour, becoming particularly interested in the views of such pioneers of ethology as Lorenz and Tinbergen. Her excellent autobiography, The Owl of Minerva (2005), gives a vivid account of this first half of her life.

It is unlikely that she would ever have become a professional philosopher in quite the mould of many of her contemporaries, since she had little taste for the logical and linguistic issues that were the focus of mainstream work in the 1950s and 1960s, and which remain the focus of much contemporary work. She said later that she was glad to have escaped when she did from the ambience of Oxford, finding it overly narrow and competitive.

The break in her career kept her very much aware of the need for philosophy in wider debate and, as she said herself, she was concerned “to bring academic philosophy back into its proper connection with life, rather than letting it dwindle into a form of highbrow chess for graduate students”.

In 1965 she returned to teaching philosophy, as a lecturer and later senior lecturer at Newcastle. It was not until this point, when she was over 50, that she began to publish the work for which she later became famous.

In 1980 she took early retirement to have more time to write and travel, and she was writing up to the end. Her final book What is Philosophy For? was published last month. Her work had already begun to be widely known at the time she retired, and she was invited to address numerous conferences and festivals. She became involved in campaigning for animal welfare (and for several years she chaired the RSPCA’s committee on animal experimentation), for environmental awareness and against the arms trade. She also appeared frequently on television and radio, presenting the case for animals and the environment and against scientific hubris. Her speaking and writing were always direct and vigorous and were informed by wide reading, a sharp critical intelligence and a gift for vivid metaphor. The drive of her thought is throughout sane and humane."
marymidgley  scientism  2018  philosophy  behavior  humans  richarddawkins  eowilson  evolution  thinking  science  religion 
october 2018 by robertogreco
How Mary Midgley rescued me - UnHerd
"I arrived at Newcastle University in 1983, a troubled and troublesome student, more interested in girls and nightclubs than in philosophy. At school, I had cared little for studying. I was in the bottom of the bottom set, alongside other no hopers. For me, university meant three more years of loafing about.

But there I met the Midgleys, Geoff and Mary – both considerable philosophers, and both with an extraordinary gift for inspiring wayward students. Under their care, I grew up. And graduated with a passion for philosophy and stamped forever by the desire to join the dots between abstract thought and real life. The Midgleys turned me around.

Mary and Geoff had an open house for the mixed bag of students that came within their orbit. Teaching and pastoral care and philosophy all blended together, creating an astonishing sense of solidarity amongst us all. I was the last of this generation – the University closed the philosophy department the year I left. It wasn’t financially viable, they said. It broke the Midgley’s hearts. Geoffrey passed away a few years later. Mary died last week, aged 99.

The connection between philosophy and pastoral care wasn’t incidental. Mary started teaching in Oxford, but left in 1950 and was glad to have left. She travelled up to Newcastle with a desire, she said, “to bring academic philosophy back into its proper connection with life, rather than let it dwindle into a form of highbrow chess for graduate students”. With this aim, Mary was a part of a number of extraordinary women philosophers who had met at Oxford: Philippa Foot, Elizabeth Anscombe and Iris Murdoch among them. Mary was old school. “Huzzar!” she would exclaim, if she approved of what you were saying. Not “hurrah”, not “horray”. She felt like a blast from the past, even back in the 80’s.

Professor Jane Heal, another of the Newcastle teaching staff of that era, summarised Mary’s thought admirably in the Guardian: “She identified the limitations of only trying to understand things by breaking them down into smaller parts and losing sight of the many ways in which the parts are dependent on the wholes in which they exist.”

Mary was suspicious of the idea that an explanation for something could only be found by breaking it up into smaller and smaller questions, thus missing the wood for the trees. Some explanations involve understanding what is before your eyes, open to view. Many explanations for things are hidden in plain sight. Geoff was the more conventional Wittgensteinian, urging students to appreciate that “nothing is hidden”, that the meaning of a thing reveals itself in and through the way we use it. Mary had an equally hostile attitude to reductionism. And her subject of interest was the human animal.

It was probably this distrust of reductionism that made her so suspicious of scientism – the inappropriate, as she saw it, extension of the scientific method to those phenomenon that do not benefit from it. She famously fell out with Richard Dawkins for offering what she felt to be his highly reductive understand of human beings as being driven by “the selfish gene”, as if selfishness were built into our DNA. This was Thatcherism dressed up as scientific explanation, she thought. From the perspective of the North East of England, with the Miner’s Strike devastating local communities, and the Bishop of Durham thundering from his pulpit about the evils of economic competition determining all value, Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene (published 1976) felt like the philosophy of the enemy.

Mary wasn’t obviously religious, but she had grown up in an Anglican vicarage, and to me she seemed like a fellow traveller, sympathetic to the broader Christian ethical impulse. The Midgley house felt like the very best of what an Anglican vicarage should be: welcoming, compassionate, fizzing with ideas. I arrived at university, from a broadly non-religious family, assuming that religion was simply pious mumbo-jumbo, clearly discredited by the likes of David Hume. I emerged, open to giving it a chance. I was less interested in breaking religion down into its parts where confusion and contradiction abounded. I wasn’t interested in the so-called proofs of God’s existence. They didn’t work, for one thing. And that never bothered me.

In terms of the lived experience, looking at the way God functioned in the lives of real believers, Christianity made a great deal more sense to me. Under the Midgleys, I came to see that explanation is not always like the foundations of a building, keeping it up – as if, without a proper explanation, the building falls. On the contrary, an explanation is a way of making sense of what is already there, not a way of re-arranging it. Understanding is after the fact. So St Anselm’s ‘Faith seeking understanding’ – i.e. faith is not built on understanding but goes looking for it – opened up, for me, a way of being a Christian, without having resolved any of the underlying contradictions. And that hasn’t stopped being true. For me, believing in God names a certain sort of commitment, not the conclusion of an argument.

There is a particular love that a student has for a teacher who made a difference to their lives. I was in McDonalds with my small son when I got a text to say that she had died. I felt like a bit of an idiot ordering a Happy Meal with tears rolling down my cheeks. But this was the end of an era. She was perhaps the last of a generation of moral philosophers that looked as much to classical literature and fiction as to empirical inquiry. Iris Murdoch was more famous, but Mary Midgley was every bit as formidable. Looking back, there is no way my life would have turned out like did if it hadn’t been for the Midgleys. Wonderful people. May they rest in peace."
marymidgley  philosophy  education  2018  gilesfraser  humans  reductionism  scientism  christianity  religion 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Why Americans see Buddhism as a philosophy rather than a religion — Quartz
"But American secular Buddhism has also produced some unintended consequences. Suzuki’s writings greatly influenced Jack Kerouac, the popular Beat Generation author of On the Road and The Dharma Bums. But Suzuki regarded Kerouac as a “monstrous imposter” because he sought only the freedom of Buddhist awakening without the discipline of practice.

Other Beat poets, hippies and, later, New Age DIY self-helpers have also paradoxically mistaken Buddhism for a kind of self-indulgent narcissism, despite its teachings of selflessness and compassion. Still others have commercially exploited its exotic appeal to sell everything from “Zen tea” to “Lucky Buddha Beer,” which is particularly ironic given Buddhism’s traditional proscription against alcohol and other intoxicants.

As a result, the popular construction of nonreligious Buddhism has contributed much to the contemporary “spiritual but not religious” phenomenon, as well as to the secularized and commodified mindfulness movement in America.

We may have only transplanted a fraction of the larger bodhi tree of religious Buddhism in America, but our cutting has adapted and taken root in our secular, scientific, and highly commercialized age. For better and for worse, it’s Buddhism, American-style."
buddhism  us  counterculture  philosophy  doctrine  2018  sokauniversityofamerica  mindfulness  secularism  religion  beatgeneration  jackkerouac  zen  zenbuddhism  daisetsuteitarosuzuki  thichnhathanh  shakusōen  anagārikadharmapāla  paulvcarus  ernestfenellosa  williamsturgisbigelow  henrydavidthoreau  ralphwaldoemerson  soka 
august 2018 by robertogreco
The logic of Buddhist philosophy goes beyond simple truth | Aeon Essays
"When Western philosophers look East, they find things they do not understand – not least the fact that the Asian traditions seem to accept, and even endorse, contradictions."



"An abhorrence of contradiction has been high orthodoxy in the West for more than 2,000 years. Statements such as Nagarjuna’s are therefore wont to produce looks of blank incomprehension, or worse. As Avicenna, the father of Medieval Aristotelianism, declared:
Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned.


One can hear similar sentiments, expressed with comparable ferocity, in many faculty common rooms today. Yet Western philosophers are slowly learning to outgrow their parochialism. And help is coming from a most unexpected direction: modern mathematical logic, not a field that is renowned for its tolerance of obscurity."



"Functions give a unique output; relations can give any number of outputs. Keep that distinction in mind; we’ll come back to it a lot."
buddhism  science  philosophy  language  logic  2014  grahampriest  contradiction  betweeness 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Michael Hardt On Revolution And Democracy - YouTube
"Revolution then today refuses that dialectic between purgatory and paradise. It’s rather instigating utopia everyday."
michaelhardt  democracy  revolution  everyday  utopia  paradise  examinedlife  capitalism  hierarchy  elitism  politics  philosophy  vladimirlenin  lenin 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @ecomentario: "p.31 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… p.49 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.co […]"
[on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/1007269183317512192 ]

[many of the captures come from: "From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy" by Gustavo Esteva, Madhu S. Prakash, and Dana L. Stuchul, which is no longer available online as a standalone PDF (thus the UTexas broken link), but is inside the following document, also linked to in the thread.]

[“Rethinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis" edited by C.A.Bowers and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin
https://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A.+Bowers,+Frdrique+Apffel-Marglin,+Frederique+Apffel-Marglin,+Chet+A.+Bowers+Re-Thinking+Freire+Globalization+and+the+Environmental+Crisis+Sociocultural,+Political,+and+Historical+Studies+in+Educatio+2004.pdf ]
isabelrodíguez  paulofreire  ivanillich  wendellberry  subcomandantemarcos  gandhi  2018  gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  deschooling  colonialism  future  environment  sustainability  cabowers  frédériqueapffel-marglin  education  campesinos  bolivia  perú  pedagogyoftheoppressed  globalization  marinaarratia  power  authority  hierarchy  horizontality  socialjustice  justice  economics  society  community  cooperation  collaboration  politics  progress  growth  rural  urban  altruism  oppression  participation  marginality  marginalization  karlmarx  socialism  autonomy  local  slow  small  capitalism  consumerism  life  living  well-being  consumption  production  productivity  gustavoterán  indigeneity  work  labor  knowledge  experience  culture  joannamacy  spirituality  buddhism  entanglement  interdependence  interbeing  interexistence  philosophy  being  individualism  chiefseattle  lutherstandingbear  johngrim  ethics  morethanhuman  multispecies  humans  human  posthumnism  transhumanism  competition  marxism  liberation  simplicity  poverty  civilization  greed  p 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Ringing the Fourfold: A Philosophical Framework for Thinking about Wellness Tourism: Tourism Recreation Research: Vol 31, No 1
"Perhaps no other area of tourism more needs a philosophy than wellness tourism with its transcendental aims and spiritual dimension. This paper explores Heidegger's rich philosophical concept of the ringing of the fourfold—an intimate relationship between earth, sky, mortals and divinities that Heidegger says reveals wholeness and authenticity and brings us into intimate contact with the world in the amazing event that is human existence. This paper argues that the ringing of the fourfold may be a philosophical basis for wellness and suggests tourism may actually facilitate the ringing of the fourfold. It uses the fourfold to explore how wellness tourism might balance and integrate lives unsettled and fractured by runaway time, frantic busyness, disconnection from the natural world and other people, loss of spirituality, and longing for a sense of place in an alien, impersonal and out-of-control world. First, it explores the possible origin of our lack of wellness by explicating Heidegger's ‘epoch of technicity’, a time when the world is seen as something to be managed and exploited for human gain by people who are reduced to little more than the engineer-servants of this management and exploitation. This part of the paper uses tourism literature to confirm the accuracy of Heidegger's predictions of rampant consumerism, ecological devastation, corporate greed, personal hubris, artificial community created by technology, and stress created by too little time, isolation, loss of identity and exhaustion. Next, the paper proffers a philosophical description of existential wellness by exploring Heidegger's concept of the fourfold as an alternative way to understand and experience the world. By returning to the tourism literature again, we show how touring may facilitate appreciation of the fourfold (and a sense of wellness) by bringing tourists into an authentic encounter with not only earth and sky (grounding and freeing nature) but also divinities and mortals who together create a world unlike the world of technicity. Finally, the paper looks at the implications of wellness tourism as a site for the ringing of the fourfold."
via:bopuc  wellness  consumerism  capitalism  2005  carolsteiner  tourism  heidegger  greed  corporatism  environment  sustainability  technology  stress  time  isolation  identity  exhaustion  work  labor  philosophy 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Decolonising Early Childhood Discourses Project
"After the demise of apartheid, South African higher education has been concerned with gender and class, but no attention has been paid as yet to age as a category of exclusion. In particular child and childhood has not been included in postcolonial discourses about the transformation of higher educational spaces and curricula. Despite decades of sustained academic critique and contestation in early childhood research, current programmes of study globally and the pedagogies promoted in their courses still assume the essentialised, universal western child who develops according to a stage-like linear process of formation according to his or her innate potential (developmentalism).

This project seeks to bring together national and international experts from the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences, to investigate how a new theoretical framework - one that is grounded in critical posthumanism, the affective turn and socially just pedagogies can explain this injustice and inform decolonising postdevelopmental theories and practices in higher education. What will be examined in particular is how critical posthumanism could contribute towards a reconfiguration of childhood in the design and content of postcolonial curricula and research projects. It includes some internationally acclaimed experts and philosophers and early career emerging researchers, incl Karen Barad and Rosi Braidotti. More than 30 team members interact, share and disseminate ideas with each other and more broadly, through colloquia and writing workshops as well as social media and synchronous virtual meeting spaces.

This research project seeks to provide intellectual spaces - both face to face and virtual, for philosophers, theorists and practitioners to interact across diverse geographical contexts to engage in debate and deliberation about posthumanism, the affective turn and the impact that these bodies of knowledge have for decolonising early childhood, in particular developing approaches which have resonance for southern perspectives and contexts. Hence, the bringing together of highly rated experts in the field from Southern continents: Africa, South-America and Australia as well as Europe (Netherlands, Sweden, UK, Cyprus), US and Canada. One of the critiques that posthumanism is based on is the unproblematised Eurocentric character of knowledges - white, male and particularly relevant in this context, adult - which are assumed to be applicable in all contexts and which have been used to subjugate other knowledges in their dominance. The researchers on this project are acutely aware of these practices and one of the objectives of the project is to investigate and problematise knowledges from both Northern and Southern contexts, with an eye on developing and evaluating postcolonial posthumanist frameworks to innovative higher education pedagogies, research practices and academic programmes across departments and Faculties."
children  decolonization  childdevelopment  pedagogy  education  posthumanism  karenbarad  rosibraidotti  postedevelopmentalism  learning  philosophy  developmentalism  eurocentrism  criticalpedagogy  earlychildhood  preschool  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  openstudioproject 
may 2018 by robertogreco
The Creative Process, by James Baldwin · SFMOMA
[via: https://www.sfmoma.org/exhibition/nothing-stable-under-heaven/ ]

"Perhaps the primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid; the state of being alone. That all men are, when the chips are down, alone, is a banality—a banality because it is very frequently stated, but very rarely, on the evidence, believed. Most of us are not compelled to linger with the knowledge of our aloneness, for it is a knowledge that can paralyze all action in this world. There are, forever, swamps to be drained, cities to be created, mines to be exploited, children to be fed. None of these things can be done alone. But the conquest of the physical world is not man’s only duty. He is also enjoined to conquer the great wilderness of himself. The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.

The state of being alone is not meant to bring to mind merely a rustic musing beside some silver lake. The aloneness of which I speak is much more like the aloneness of birth or death. It is like the fearless alone that one sees in the eyes of someone who is suffering, whom we cannot help. Or it is like the aloneness of love, the force and mystery that so many have extolled and so many have cursed, but which no one has ever understood or ever really been able to control. I put the matter this way, not out of any desire to create pity for the artist—God forbid!—but to suggest how nearly, after all, is his state the state of everyone, and in an attempt to make vivid his endeavor. The state of birth, suffering, love, and death are extreme states—extreme, universal, and inescapable. We all know this, but we would rather not know it. The artist is present to correct the delusions to which we fall prey in our attempts to avoid this knowledge.

It is for this reason that all societies have battled with the incorrigible disturber of the peace—the artist. I doubt that future societies will get on with him any better. The entire purpose of society is to create a bulwark against the inner and the outer chaos, in order to make life bearable and to keep the human race alive. And it is absolutely inevitable that when a tradition has been evolved, whatever the tradition is, the people, in general, will suppose it to have existed from before the beginning of time and will be most unwilling and indeed unable to conceive of any changes in it. They do not know how they will live without those traditions that have given them their identity. Their reaction, when it is suggested that they can or that they must, is panic. And we see this panic, I think, everywhere in the world today, from the streets of New Orleans to the grisly battleground of Algeria. And a higher level of consciousness among the people is the only hope we have, now or in the future, of minimizing human damage.

The artist is distinguished from all other responsible actors in society—the politicians, legislators, educators, and scientists—by the fact that he is his own test tube, his own laboratory, working according to very rigorous rules, however unstated these may be, and cannot allow any consideration to supersede his responsibility to reveal all that he can possibly discover concerning the mystery of the human being. Society must accept some things as real; but he must always know that visible reality hides a deeper one, and that all our action and achievement rest on things unseen. A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven. One cannot possibly build a school, teach a child, or drive a car without taking some things for granted. The artist cannot and must not take anything for granted, but must drive to the heart of every answer and expose the question the answer hides.

I seem to be making extremely grandiloquent claims for a breed of men and women historically despised while living and acclaimed when safely dead. But, in a way, the belated honor that all societies tender their artists proven the reality of the point I am trying to make. I am really trying to make clear the nature of the artist’s responsibility to his society. The peculiar nature of this responsibility is that he must never cease warring with it, for its sake and for his own. For the truth, in spite of appearances and all our hopes, is that everything is always changing and the measure of our maturity as nations and as men is how well prepared we are to meet these changes, and further, to use them for our health.

Now, anyone who has ever been compelled to think about it—anyone, for example, who has ever been in love—knows that the one face that one can never see is one’s own face. One’s lover—or one’s brother, or one’s enemy—sees the face you wear, and this face can elicit the most extraordinary reactions. We do the things we do and feel what we feel essentially because we must—we are responsible for our actions, but we rarely understand them. It goes without saying, I believe, that if we understood ourselves better, we would damage ourselves less. But the barrier between oneself and one’s knowledge of oneself is high indeed. There are so many things one would rather not know! We become social creatures because we cannot live any other way. But in order to become social, there are a great many other things that we must not become, and we are frightened, all of us, of these forces within us that perpetually menace our precarious security. Yet the forces are there: we cannot will them away. All we can do is learn to live with them. And we cannot learn this unless we are willing to tell the truth about ourselves, and the truth about us is always at variance with what we wish to be. The human effort is to bring these two realities into a relationship resembling reconciliation. The human beings whom we respect the most, after all—and sometimes fear the most—are those who are most deeply involved in this delicate and strenuous effort, for they have the unshakable authority that comes only from having looked on and endured and survived the worst. That nation is healthiest which has the least necessity to distrust or ostracize these people—whom, as I say, honor, once they are gone, because somewhere in our hearts we know that we cannot live without them.

The dangers of being an American artist are not greater than those of being an artist anywhere else in the world, but they are very particular. These dangers are produced by our history. They rest on the fact that in order to conquer this continent, the particular aloneness of which I speak—the aloneness in which one discovers that life is tragic, and therefore unutterably beautiful—could not be permitted. And that this prohibition is typical of all emergent nations will be proved, I have no doubt, in many ways during the next fifty years. This continent now is conquered, but our habits and our fears remain. And, in the same way that to become a social human being one modifies and suppresses and, ultimately, without great courage, lies to oneself about all one’s interior, uncharted chaos, so have we, as a nation, modified or suppressed and lied about all the darker forces in our history. We know, in the case of the person, that whoever cannot tell himself the truth about his past is trapped in it, is immobilized in the prison of his undiscovered self. This is also true of nations. We know how a person, in such a paralysis, is unable to assess either his weaknesses or his strengths, and how frequently indeed he mistakes the one for the other. And this, I think, we do. We are the strongest nation in the Western world, but this is not for the reasons that we think. It is because we have an opportunity that no other nation has in moving beyond the Old World concepts of race and class and caste, to create, finally, what we must have had in mind when we first began speaking of the New World. But the price of this is a long look backward when we came and an unflinching assessment of the record. For an artist, the record of that journey is most clearly revealed in the personalities of the people the journey produced. Societies never know it, but the war of an artist with his society is a lover’s war, and he does, at his best, what lovers do, which is to reveal the beloved to himself and, with that revelation, to make freedom real."
jamesbaldwin  creativity  loneliness  aloneness  death  birth  society  art  artists  consciousness  philosophy  imagination  reality  stability  change  changemaking  freedom 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Are.na / block added by kmd k
"I’m distrustful of content-based pedagogy because I’m distrustful of any desire to reproduce identity, to make more of the same. I think pedagogy that seeks to reproduce little versions of the teacher is as suspect as parenting that seeks to reproduce little versions of the parent.

I think that good teaching, like good parenting, demands helping a younger person articulate their best self and understand themselves in relation to the world; it can’t do that by determining for a student who they are or what they need to be.

My approach to pedagogy is equally rooted in philosophy and in pragmatism. In my experience, you just can’t make people think or be what they don’t want to think or be, or what they’re not ready to think or be. You can point people in a certain direction; but if they don’t want to run with you, they’ll just be gazing vaguely in that direction while you sprint off towards the sunset.

It is inevitably the case that in a class with 6 or 12 or 40 students, only a few will share your investments and interests. It can be more or less depending on context and institution, but as a teacher you always have to be prepared for the possibility that you walk into a room and not a single student in there gives a shit about what you have to say. What do you do with those students? How do you serve those students? I absolutely reject the idea of just writing students off. I think if you’re going to stand in front of someone for 45 minutes and tell them what to do, you have to either bring in something they can find a way into or have the excuse of a prescribed curriculum. Nothing else will do.

This is why I consider my job to help students learn how to think whatever they’re thinking, rather than telling them what to think. I would love if my students learned about socialism or psychoanalysis or Spinoza from me; I would love it if they came out of the closet after I teach Sedgwick or whatever. But that’s not always going to happen, and it’s never going to happen with every student. Unless I am in a position to vet or choose each student individually - and unless each student is also in a position to leave my class - I don’t consider it ethical to demand students think or know in a particular way, in part because I know people can’t always overcome the modes of thinking they’ve internalized without a lot of work. I’ve never taught a graduate seminar, but if I could teach, say, a grad seminar on Spinoza and interview each potential student for 20 minutes first to see if they could hack it, that would be one thing. But if I’m walking into a room full of undergrads or high schoolers, some or all of whom don’t want to be there, I have to be able to offer them tools and concepts that don’t demand allegiance to a specific content or ideology.

-Fuck Theory Tinyletter"
content  pedagogy  education  unschooling  learning  identity  teaching  howweteach  colonization  pragmatism  philosophy  deschooling  experience  curriculum  spinoza  ethics  thinking  criticalthinking  ideology 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Take your time: the seven pillars of a Slow Thought manifesto | Aeon Essays
"In championing ‘slowness in human relations’, the Slow Movement appears conservative, while constructively calling for valuing local cultures, whether in food and agriculture, or in preserving slower, more biological rhythms against the ever-faster, digital and mechanically measured pace of the technocratic society that Neil Postman in 1992 called technopoly, where ‘the rate of change increases’ and technology reigns. Yet, it is preservative rather than conservative, acting as a foil against predatory multinationals in the food industry that undermine local artisans of culture, from agriculture to architecture. In its fidelity to our basic needs, above all ‘the need to belong’ locally, the Slow Movement founds a kind of contemporary commune in each locale – a convivium – responding to its time and place, while spreading organically as communities assert their particular needs for belonging and continuity against the onslaught of faceless government bureaucracy and multinational interests.

In the tradition of the Slow Movement, I hereby declare my manifesto for ‘Slow Thought’. This is the first step toward a psychiatry of the event, based on the French philosopher Alain Badiou’s central notion of the event, a new foundation for ontology – how we think of being or existence. An event is an unpredictable break in our everyday worlds that opens new possibilities. The three conditions for an event are: that something happens to us (by pure accident, no destiny, no determinism), that we name what happens, and that we remain faithful to it. In Badiou’s philosophy, we become subjects through the event. By naming it and maintaining fidelity to the event, the subject emerges as a subject to its truth. ‘Being there,’ as traditional phenomenology would have it, is not enough. My proposal for ‘evental psychiatry’ will describe both how we get stuck in our everyday worlds, and what makes change and new things possible for us."

"1. Slow Thought is marked by peripatetic Socratic walks, the face-to-face encounter of Levinas, and Bakhtin’s dialogic conversations"

"2. Slow Thought creates its own time and place"

"3. Slow Thought has no other object than itself"

"4. Slow Thought is porous"

"5. Slow Thought is playful"

"6. Slow Thought is a counter-method, rather than a method, for thinking as it relaxes, releases and liberates thought from its constraints and the trauma of tradition"

"7. Slow Thought is deliberate"
slow  slowthought  2018  life  philosophy  alainbadiou  neilpostman  time  place  conservation  preservation  guttormfløistad  cittaslow  carlopetrini  cities  food  history  urban  urbanism  mikhailbakhti  walking  emmanuellevinas  solviturambulando  walterbenjamin  play  playfulness  homoludens  johanhuizinga  milankundera  resistance  counterculture  culture  society  relaxation  leisure  artleisure  leisurearts  psychology  eichardrorty  wittgenstein  socrates  nietzsche  jacquesderrida  vincenzodinicola  joelelkes  giorgioagamben  garcíamárquez  michelfoucault  foucault  asjalacis  porosity  reflection  conviction  laurencesterne  johnmilton  edmundhusserl  jacqueslacan  dispacement  deferral  delay  possibility  anti-philosophy 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Diogenes - Wikipedia
"Diogenes (/daɪˈɒdʒəˌniːz/; Greek: Διογένης, Diogenēs [di.oɡénɛ͜ɛs]), also known as Diogenes the Cynic (Ancient Greek: Διογένης ὁ Κυνικός, Diogenēs ho Kunikos), was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. He was born in Sinope, an Ionian colony on the Black Sea,[1] in 412 or 404 B.C. and died at Corinth in 323 B.C.[2]

Diogenes was a controversial figure. His father minted coins for a living, and Diogenes was banished from Sinope when he took to debasement of currency.[1] After being exiled, he moved to Athens and criticized many cultural conventions of the city. He modelled himself on the example of Heracles, and believed that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory. He used his simple life-style and behaviour to criticize the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt, confused society. He had a reputation for sleeping and eating wherever he chose in a highly non-traditional fashion, and took to toughening himself against nature. He declared himself a cosmopolitan and a citizen of the world rather than claiming allegiance to just one place. There are many tales about his dogging Antisthenes' footsteps and becoming his "faithful hound".[3]

Diogenes made a virtue of poverty. He begged for a living and often slept in a large ceramic jar in the marketplace.[4] He became notorious for his philosophical stunts, such as carrying a lamp during the day, claiming to be looking for an honest man. He criticized Plato, disputed his interpretation of Socrates, and sabotaged his lectures, sometimes distracting attenders by bringing food and eating during the discussions. Diogenes was also noted for having publicly mocked Alexander the Great.[5][6][7]

Diogenes was captured by pirates and sold into slavery, eventually settling in Corinth. There he passed his philosophy of Cynicism to Crates, who taught it to Zeno of Citium, who fashioned it into the school of Stoicism, one of the most enduring schools of Greek philosophy. None of Diogenes' writings have survived, but there are some details of his life from anecdotes (chreia), especially from Diogenes Laërtius' book Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers and some other sources.[8]"



"Death

There are conflicting accounts of Diogenes' death. He is alleged variously to have held his breath; to have become ill from eating raw octopus;[36] or to have suffered an infected dog bite.[37] When asked how he wished to be buried, he left instructions to be thrown outside the city wall so wild animals could feast on his body. When asked if he minded this, he said, "Not at all, as long as you provide me with a stick to chase the creatures away!" When asked how he could use the stick since he would lack awareness, he replied "If I lack awareness, then why should I care what happens to me when I am dead?"[38] At the end, Diogenes made fun of people's excessive concern with the "proper" treatment of the dead. The Corinthians erected to his memory a pillar on which rested a dog of Parian marble.[39]"



"Cynicism

Along with Antisthenes and Crates of Thebes, Diogenes is considered one of the founders of Cynicism. The ideas of Diogenes, like those of most other Cynics, must be arrived at indirectly. No writings of Diogenes survive even though he is reported to have authored over ten books, a volume of letters and seven tragedies.[40] Cynic ideas are inseparable from Cynic practice; therefore what we know about Diogenes is contained in anecdotes concerning his life and sayings attributed to him in a number of scattered classical sources.

Diogenes maintained that all the artificial growths of society were incompatible with happiness and that morality implies a return to the simplicity of nature. So great was his austerity and simplicity that the Stoics would later claim him to be a wise man or "sophos". In his words, "Humans have complicated every simple gift of the gods."[41] Although Socrates had previously identified himself as belonging to the world, rather than a city,[42] Diogenes is credited with the first known use of the word "cosmopolitan". When he was asked from where he came, he replied, "I am a citizen of the world (cosmopolites)".[43] This was a radical claim in a world where a man's identity was intimately tied to his citizenship of a particular city-state. An exile and an outcast, a man with no social identity, Diogenes made a mark on his contemporaries.

Diogenes had nothing but disdain for Plato and his abstract philosophy.[44] Diogenes viewed Antisthenes as the true heir to Socrates, and shared his love of virtue and indifference to wealth,[45] together with a disdain for general opinion.[46] Diogenes shared Socrates's belief that he could function as doctor to men's souls and improve them morally, while at the same time holding contempt for their obtuseness. Plato once described Diogenes as "a Socrates gone mad."[47]

Obscenity

Diogenes taught by living example. He tried to demonstrate that wisdom and happiness belong to the man who is independent of society and that civilization is regressive. He scorned not only family and political social organization, but also property rights and reputation. He even rejected normal ideas about human decency. Diogenes is said to have eaten in the marketplace,[48] urinated on some people who insulted him,[49] defecated in the theatre,[50] and masturbated in public. When asked about his eating in public he said, "If taking breakfast is nothing out of place, then it is nothing out of place in the marketplace. But taking breakfast is nothing out of place, therefore it is nothing out of place to take breakfast in the marketplace." [51] On the indecency of his masturbating in public he would say, "If only it were as easy to banish hunger by rubbing my belly."[52][53]

Diogenes as dogged or dog-like

Many anecdotes of Diogenes refer to his dog-like behavior, and his praise of a dog's virtues. It is not known whether Diogenes was insulted with the epithet "doggish" and made a virtue of it, or whether he first took up the dog theme himself. When asked why he was called a dog he replied, "I fawn on those who give me anything, I yelp at those who refuse, and I set my teeth in rascals."[20] Diogenes believed human beings live artificially and hypocritically and would do well to study the dog. Besides performing natural body functions in public with ease, a dog will eat anything, and make no fuss about where to sleep. Dogs live in the present without anxiety, and have no use for the pretensions of abstract philosophy. In addition to these virtues, dogs are thought to know instinctively who is friend and who is foe.[54] Unlike human beings who either dupe others or are duped, dogs will give an honest bark at the truth. Diogenes stated that "other dogs bite their enemies, I bite my friends to save them."[55]

The term "cynic" itself derives from the Greek word κυνικός, kynikos, "dog-like" and that from κύων, kyôn, "dog" (genitive: kynos).[56] One explanation offered in ancient times for why the Cynics were called dogs was because Antisthenes taught in the Cynosarges gymnasium at Athens.[57] The word Cynosarges means the place of the white dog. Later Cynics also sought to turn the word to their advantage, as a later commentator explained:
There are four reasons why the Cynics are so named. First because of the indifference of their way of life, for they make a cult of indifference and, like dogs, eat and make love in public, go barefoot, and sleep in tubs and at crossroads. The second reason is that the dog is a shameless animal, and they make a cult of shamelessness, not as being beneath modesty, but as superior to it. The third reason is that the dog is a good guard, and they guard the tenets of their philosophy. The fourth reason is that the dog is a discriminating animal which can distinguish between its friends and enemies. So do they recognize as friends those who are suited to philosophy, and receive them kindly, while those unfitted they drive away, like dogs, by barking at them.[58]

As noted (see Death), Diogenes' association with dogs was memorialized by the Corinthians, who erected to his memory a pillar on which rested a dog of Parian marble.[39]"
philosophy  stoicism  cynicism  diogenes  simplicity  simpleliving  voluntarypoverty  criticism  society  voluntarysimplicity  dogs  presence  present  everyday  plato  ancientgreece  socrates  practice  praxis  obscenity  cv 
march 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 67. Carl Abrahamsson & Mitch Horowitz in “Occulture (Meta)” // Anton LaVey, Real Magic & the Nature of the Mind
"Look, I’m not gonna lie to you - we have a pretty badass show this time around. Carl Abrahamsson and Mitch Horowitz are in the house.

Carl Abrahamsson is a Swedish freelance writer, lecturer, filmmaker and photographer specializing in material about the arts & entertainment, esoteric history and occulture. Carl is the author of several books, including a forthcoming title from Inner Traditions called Occulture: The Unseen Forces That Drive Culture Forward.

Mitch Horowitz is the author of One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life; Occult America, which received the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence; and Mind As Builder: The Positive-Mind Metaphysics of Edgar Cayce. Mitch has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Salon, Time.com, and Politico. Mitch is currently in the midst of publishing a series of articles on Medium called "Real Magic".

And it is that series paired with Carl’s book that lays the foundation for our conversation here."
carlabrahamsson  mitchhorowitz  occult  culture  occulture  magic  belief  mind  ouijaboard  astrology  mindfulness  buddhism  religion  academia  antonlavey  materialism  mainstream  intellectualism  elitism  mindbodyspirit  2018  esotericism  authority  norms  nuance  change  enlightenment  popculture  science  humanities  socialsciences  medicine  conservatism  churches  newage  cosmology  migration  california  hippies  meaning  psychology  siliconvalley  ingenuity  human  humans  humannature  spirituality  openmindedness  nature  urbanization  urban  nyc  us  society  santería  vodou  voodoo  voudoun  climate  light  davidlynch  innovation  population  environment  meaningmaking  mikenesmith  californianideology  thought  thinking  philosophy  hoodoo  blackmetal  norway  beauty  survival  wholeperson  churchofsatan  satanism  agency  ambition  mysticism  self  stories  storytelling  mythology  humanism  beinghuman  surrealism  cv  repetition  radicalism  myths  history  renaissance  fiction  fantasy  reenchantment  counterculture  consciousness  highered  highereducation  cynicism  inquiry  realitytele 
february 2018 by robertogreco
[no title]
"The important thing is to understand life, each living individuality, not as a form, or a development of form, but as a complex relation between differential velocities, between deceleration and acceleration of particles. A composition of speeds and slowness on a plane of immanence. In the same way, a musical form will depend on a complex relation between speeds and slowness of sound particles. It is not just a matter of music but of how to live: it is by speed and slowness that one slips in among things, that one connects with something else. One never commences; one never has a tabula rasa; one slips in, enters in the middle; one takes up or lays down rhythms."

—Gilles Deleuze, ‘Spinoza: Practical Philosophy
deleuze  gillesdeleuze  spinoza  life  individuality  velocities  velocity  vectors  slowness  form  particles  flow  interconnectedness  interconnected  interdependence  music  complexity  systems  systemsthinking  philosophy  via:fantasylla  interconnectivity 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Open Humanities Press– New Metaphysics
"The world is due for a resurgence of original speculative metaphysics. The New Metaphysics series aims to provide a safe house for such thinking amidst the demoralizing caution and prudence of professional academic philosophy. We do not aim to bridge the analytic-continental divide, since we are equally impatient with nail-filing analytic critique and the continental reverence for dusty textual monuments. We favor instead the spirit of the intellectual gambler, and wish to discover and promote authors who meet this description. Like an emergent recording company, what we seek are traces of a new metaphysical ‘sound’ from any nation of the world. The editors are open to translations of neglected metaphysical classics, and will consider secondary works of especial force and daring. But our main interest is to stimulate the birth of disturbing masterpieces of twenty-first century philosophy.

“I love this prospectus. It gives promise of a badly needed entrée into the kind of philosophizing that Georg Simmel advocated: the pursuit of questions that can never be definitively answered but which our intellects cannot stop themselves from asking. The experience of joining voices as we explore such questions can lead to some of the most magnificent moments in human life.”
—Donald N. Levine – University of Chicago, author of Powers of the Mind: The Reinvention of Liberal Learning in America (2006)

The New Metaphysics series design is by Katherine Gillieson with cover illustrations by Tammy Lu

Titles

Being Up For Grabs
Hilan Bensusan

New Materialism
Rick Dolphijn and Iris van der Tuin

Ontological Catastrophe
Joseph Carew

Plastic Bodies
Tom Sparrow

Realist Magic
Timothy Morton

The Being of Analogy
Noah Roderick

The Democracy of Objects
Levi R. Bryant"
books  metaphysics  toread  hilanbensusan  rickdolphijn  irisvandertuin  josephcarew  tomsparrow  timothymorton  noahroderick  levibryant  philosophy 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power by Byung-Chul Han – review | Books | The Guardian
"The new surveillance society that has arisen since 1984, argues Han, works differently yet is more elegantly totalitarian and oppressive than anything described by Orwell or Jeremy Bentham. “Confession obtained by force has been replaced by voluntary disclosure,” he writes. “Smartphones have been substituted for torture chambers.” Well, not quite. Torture chambers still exist, it’s just that we in the neoliberal west have outsourced them (thanks, rendition flights) so that that obscenity called polite society can pretend they don’t exist.

Nonetheless, what capitalism realised in the neoliberal era, Han argues, is that it didn’t need to be tough, but seductive. This is what he calls smartpolitics. Instead of saying no, it says yes: instead of denying us with commandments, discipline and shortages, it seems to allow us to buy what we want when we want, become what we want and realise our dream of freedom. “Instead of forbidding and depriving it works through pleasing and fulfilling. Instead of making people compliant, it seeks to make them dependent.”

Your smartphone, for Han, is crucial in this respect, the multifunctional tool of our auto-exploitation. We are all Big Brother now. It is in part Catholicism with better technology, a modern rosary that is handheld confessional and effective surveillance apparatus in one. “Both the rosary and the smartphone serve the purpose of self-monitoring and control,” he explains. “Power operates more effectively when it delegates surveillance to discrete individuals.” And we queue overnight to get the latest model: we desire our own domination. No wonder the motto for Han’s book is US video artist Jenny Holzer’s slogan: “Protect me from what I want.”

Han considers that the old form of oppressive capitalism that found its personification in Big Brother has found its most resonant expression in Bentham’s notion of a panopticon, whereby all inmates of an institution could be observed by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they were being watched. Bentham’s invention in turn catalysed French theorist Michel Foucault’s reflections on the disciplinary, punishing power that arose with industrial capitalism, leading him to coin the term biopolitics. Because the body was the central force in industrial production, Han argues, then a politics of disciplining, punishing and perfecting the body was understandably central to Foucault’s notion of how power worked.

But in the west’s deindustrialised, neoliberal era, such biopolitics is obsolete. Instead, by means of deploying “big data”, neoliberalism has tapped into the psychic realm and exploited it, with the result that, as Han colourfully puts it, “individuals degrade into the genital organs of capital”. Consider that the next time you’re reviewing your Argos purchase, streaming porn or retweeting Paul Mason. Instead of watching over human behaviour, big data’s digital panopticon subjects it to psychopolitical steering."



"At least in Nineteen Eighty-Four, nobody felt free. In 2017, for Han, everybody feels free, which is the problem. “Of our own free will, we put any and all conceivable information about ourselves on the internet, without having the slightest idea who knows what, when or in what occasion. This lack of control represents a crisis of freedom to be taken seriously.”"



"No matter. How might we resist psychopolitics? In this respect, Han cuts an intriguing figure. He rarely makes public appearances or gives interviews (and when he does he requires journalists turn off their recorders ), his Facebook page seems to have been set up by Spanish admirers, and only recently did he set up an email address which he scarcely uses. He isn’t ungooglable nor yet off the grid, but rather professor at Berlin’s University of the Arts and has written 16 mostly lovely, slender volumes of elegant cultural critique (I particularly recommend The Burnout Society, The Scent of Time, Saving Beauty and The Expulsion of the Other – all available in English) and is often heralded, along with Markus Gabriel and Richard David Precht, as a wunderkind of a newly resurgent and unprecedentedly readable German philosophy.

For all that, and I mean this as a compliment, Byung-Chul Han is an idiot. He writes: “Thoroughgoing digital networking and communication have massively amplified the compulsion to conform. The attendant violence of consensus is suppressing idiotisms.”

Indeed, the book’s last chapter is called “Idiotism”, and traces philosophy’s rich history of counter-cultural idiocy. Socrates knew only one thing, namely that he knew nothing. Descartes doubted everything in his “I think therefore I am”. Han seeks to reclaim this idiotic tradition. In an age of compulsory self-expression, he cultivates the twin heresies of secrets and silence.

Perhaps similarly, for our own well being, in our age of overspeak and underthink, we should learn the virtue of shutting up."
capitalism  latecapitalism  technology  politics  2017  biopolitics  byung-chulhan  stuartjeffries  1984  freedom  control  data  mobile  phones  facebook  twitter  conformity  conformism  amazon  internet  web  online  markusgabriel  richarddavidprecht  philosophy  idiocy  overspeak  underthink  thinking  communication  neoliberalism  foucault  power  smartphones  bigbrother  catholicsm  jennyholzer  desire  michelfoucault 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Verso: Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power, by Byung-Chul Han
"Exploring how neoliberalism has discovered the productive force of the psyche

Byung-Chul Han, a star of German philosophy, continues his passionate critique of neoliberalism, trenchantly describing a regime of technological domination that, in contrast to Foucault’s biopower, has discovered the productive force of the psyche. In the course of discussing all the facets of neoliberal psychopolitics fueling our contemporary crisis of freedom, Han elaborates an analytical framework that provides an original theory of Big Data and a lucid phenomenology of emotion. But this provocative essay proposes counter models too, presenting a wealth of ideas and surprising alternatives at every turn.

Reviews

“How do we say we? It seems important. How do we imagine collective action, in other words, how do we imagine acting on a scale sufficient to change the social order? How seriously can or should one take the idea of freedom in the era of Big Data? There seems to be something drastically wrong with common ideas about what the word act means. Psychopolitics is a beautifully sculpted attempt to figure out how to mean action differently, in an age where humans are encouraged to believe that it's possible and necessary to see everything.” – Timothy Morton

“A combination of neoliberal ethics and ubiquitous data capture has brought about a fundamental transformation and expansion of capitalist power, beyond even the fears of the Frankfurt School. In this blistering critique, Byung-Chul Han shows how capitalism has now finally broken free of liberalism, shrinking the spaces of individuality and autonomy yet further. At the same time, Psychopolitics demonstrates how critical theory can and must be rejuvenated for the age of big data.” – Will Davies

“The new star of German philosophy.” – El País

“What is new about new media? These are philosophical questions for Byung-Chul Han, and precisely here lies the appeal of his essays.” – Die Welt

“In Psychopolitics, critique of the media and of capitalism fuse into the coherent picture of a society that has been both blinded and paralyzed by alien forces. Confident and compelling.” – Spiegel Online"
books  toread  neoliberalism  technology  labor  work  latecapitalism  capitalism  postcapitalism  byung-chulhan  psychology  philosophy  liberalism  individuality  autonomy  willdavies  timothymorton  society  culture  action 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Burnout Society | Byung-Chul Han
"Our competitive, service-oriented societies are taking a toll on the late-modern individual. Rather than improving life, multitasking, "user-friendly" technology, and the culture of convenience are producing disorders that range from depression to attention deficit disorder to borderline personality disorder. Byung-Chul Han interprets the spreading malaise as an inability to manage negative experiences in an age characterized by excessive positivity and the universal availability of people and goods. Stress and exhaustion are not just personal experiences, but social and historical phenomena as well. Denouncing a world in which every against-the-grain response can lead to further disempowerment, he draws on literature, philosophy, and the social and natural sciences to explore the stakes of sacrificing intermittent intellectual reflection for constant neural connection."
books  toread  byung-chulhan  work  labor  latecapitalism  neoliberalism  technology  multitasking  depression  attention  add  adhd  attentiondeficitdisorder  personality  psychology  philosophy  convenience  neurosis  psychosis  malaise  society  positivity  positivepsychology  capitalism  postcapitalism 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Book Detail | Polity: The Expulsion of the Other Society, Perception and Communication Today, by Byung-Chul Han
"The days of the Other are over in this age of global over-communication, over-information and over-consumption. What used to be the Other, be it as friend, as Eros or as hell, is now indistinguishable from the self in our society's narcissistic desire to assimilate everything and everyone until there are no boundaries left. The result of this is a feeling of disorientation and senselessness that needs to be compensated for, be it by self-harm or, in the extreme, by harming others through acts of terrorism. 

In his new work, the renowned cultural theorist Byung-Chul Han builds on his previous critique of neoliberalism, arguing that in this absence of the Other, our times are not characterised by external repression but by depression through the self. In his characteristically concise style, he traces this violence of the identical through phenomena like fear, globalization and terrorism. He also argues that by returning to a society of listeners, by acknowledging the Other, we can seek to overcome the isolation and suffering caused by this crushing process of total assimilation."



"The Terror of the Same
The Violence of the Global and Terrorism
The Terror of Authenticity
Anxiety
Thresholds
Alienation
Counter-body
Gaze
Voice
The Language of the Other
The Thinking of the Other
Listening
Notes"



""No other philosophical author today has gone further than Byung-Chul Han in the analysis of our global everyday existence under the challenges of electronically induced hyper-communication. His latest - and again eminently readable - book concentrates on the "Terror of Sameness", that is on a life without events and individual otherness, as an environment to which we react with depression. What makes the intellectual difference in this analysis of sameness is the mastery with which Han brings into play the classics of our philosophical tradition and, through them, historical worlds that provide us with horizons of existential otherness."
Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Albert Guérard Professor in Literature, Stanford University

"The new star of German philosophy."
El País

"The Expulsion of the Other has the classic Byung-Chul Han 'sound,' an evocative tone which powerfully draws the reader in. ... With imperturbable serenity he brings together instances from everyday life and great catastrophes."
Süddeutsche Zeitung

"Han's congenial mastery of thought opens up areas we had long believed to be lost."
Die Tagespost"
byung-chulhan  books  toread  othering  others  communication  infooverload  philosophy  socialmedia  internet  web  online  news  otherness  sameness  depression  everyday 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Book Detail | Polity: Saving Beauty, by Byung-Chul Han
"Beauty today is a paradox. The cult of beauty is ubiquitous but it has lost its transcendence and become little more than an aspect of consumerism, the aesthetic dimension of capitalism. The sublime and unsettling aspects of beauty have given way to corporeal pleasures and ‘likes’, resulting in a kind of ‘pornography’ of beauty.In this book, cultural theorist Byung-Chul Han reinvigorates aesthetic theory for our digital age. He interrogates our preoccupation with all things slick and smooth, from Jeff Koon’s sculptures and the iPhone to Brazilian waxing. Reaching far deeper than our superficial reactions to viral videos and memes, Han reclaims beauty, showing how it manifests itself as truth, temptation and even disaster.This wide-ranging and profound exploration of beauty, encompassing ethical and political considerations as well as aesthetic, will appeal to all those interested in cultural and aesthetic theory, philosophy and digital media."



"1. The Smooth
2. The Smooth Body
3. The Aesthetics of the Smooth
4. Digital Beauty
5. The Aesthetics of Veiling
6. The Aesthetics of Injury
7. The Aesthetics of Disaster
8. The Ideal of Beauty
9. Beauty as Truth
10. The Politics of Beauty
11. Pornographic Theatre
12. Lingering on Beauty
13. Beauty as Reminiscence
14. Giving Birth in Beauty
Notes"



"‘In this provocative analysis Han agitates against contemporary notions of smooth air-brushed beauty. Instead he pleads for an aesthetic based on a generative, creative, commitment to truth that can encompass negativity injury and disaster. Ranging from pornography to classical literature this tour de force of thinking about our understanding of beauty reminds us that philosophy can have teeth. Han writes with a compelling urgency about how we live in the here and now, but also how we could live better. Saving Beauty is an aesthetic call to arms; an example of how philosophy can militate for a better world and make us see anew.’
Karen Leeder, Oxford University"
byung-chulhan  books  toread  philosophy  beauty  aesthetics 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Book Detail | Polity: The Scent of Time A Philosophical Essay on the Art of Lingering, by Byung-Chul Han
"In his philosophical reflections on the art of lingering, acclaimed cultural theorist Byung-Chul Han argues that the value we attach today to the vita activa is producing a crisis in our sense of time. Our attachment to the vita activa creates an imperative to work which degrades the human being into a labouring animal, an animal laborans. At the same time, the hyperactivity which characterizes our daily routines robs human beings of the capacity to linger and the faculty of contemplation. It therefore becomes impossible to experience time as fulfilling.

Drawing on a range of thinkers including Heidegger, Nietzsche and Arendt, Han argues that we can overcome this temporal crisis only by revitalizing the vita contemplativa and relearning the art of lingering. For what distinguishes humans from other animals is the capacity for reflection and contemplation, and when life regains this capacity, this art of lingering, it gains in time and space, in duration and vastness."



"Preface
1. Non-Time
2. Time without a Scent
3. The Speed of History
4. From the Age of Marching to the Age of Whizzing
5. The Paradox of the Present
6. Fragrant Crystal of Time
7. The Time of the Angel
8. Fragrant Clock: An Short Excursus on Ancient China
9. The Round Dance of the World
10. The Scent of Oak Wood
11. Profound Boredom
12. Vita Contemplativa
Notes"
books  toread  byung-chulhan  lingering  neoliberalism  idleness  humans  humanism  labor  work  contemplation  thinking  philosophy  life  living  culture  society  time  boredom  presence  latecapitalism  postcapitalism  capitalism 
january 2018 by robertogreco
(Some excerpts from recent Alan Kay emails)
"Socrates didn't charge for "education" because when you are in business, the "customer starts to become right". Whereas in education, the customer is generally "not right". Marketeers are catering to what people *want*, educators are trying to deal with what they think people *need* (and this is often not at all what they *want*). Part of Montessori's genius was to realize early that children *want* to get fluent in their surrounding environs and culture, and this can be really powerful if one embeds what they *need* in the environs and culture."

[via: https://www.are.na/block/1546832 ]
alankay  brettvictor  socrates  education  sfsh  mariamontessori  montessori  children  environment  lcproject  openstudioproject  unschooling  deschooling  culture  society  consumerism  marketing  howweteach  howwelearn  history  parc  philosophy  learning 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Teaching Children Philosophy
"Interested in teaching philosophy to elementary school children? This website will help you do that using popular children’s picture books.

To get started, take a look at some of the book modules contained on this site. They will introduce you to the philosophy in each picture book, and suggest questions to help you initiate a philosophical discussion with young children."
classideas  philosophy 
december 2017 by robertogreco
P4CNZ – Philosophy for Children New Zealand
"Philosophy for Children (P4C) is an international educational programme aimed at Year 1 - 13 students.  It taps children's natural curiosity and sense of wonder and is dedicated to empowering them to make sense of themselves, and the world around them, through philosophical inquiry."
classideas  education  philosophy 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Conner Habib on Twitter: "13 I learned not just about science from Lynn, but a whole new way of thinking. One that allows me to stand back and see the big picture - G… https://t.co/hhQKBzfPTl"
"I learned not just about science from Lynn, but a whole new way of thinking. One that allows me to stand back and see the big picture - Gaia - and to lean forward and see the tiniest details - the microcosm.

She is one of the most brilliant visionaries of our time."



"1
I want to tell you about an amazing woman who changed my life, and who you need to know about if you don't already: biologist Lynn Margulis.

She died on this day, 6 years ago.
She was my main intellectual mentor in life, my friend, my second mom.

2
Lynn made quite a few major scientific discoveries.
She's best known for proving that organisms and cells that have nucleuses have symbiotic origins - that they originate from the coming together of different bacteria (and sometimes protoctists/protozoa)

3
She also discovered, with James Lovelock, that the Earth regulates itself quite a bit like an organism - particularly through the interactions of bacteria and the abiota (the non-living aspects of the environment). This is called the Gaia Theory or biogeochemistry.

4
She created a whole new theory of evolution, of which Lewis Thomas said, "Darwin was wrong, and Lynn Margulis is right." That theory is in her book Acquiring Genomes with co-author Dorion Sagan.

5
When offered potentially millions of dollars by the US govt to do research on bacteria that could help with defense, Lynn Margulis hung up on the phone on them. She said, "If it's not public, it's not science."

6
If you've heard anything about gut biomes, that is a direct result of Lynn's tireless work, yet she is rarely credited.

7
Lynn's theory of evolution came from rejecting the capitalistic cost-benefit analysis version of evolution adopted by ppl like Richard Dawkins (who has almost no lab experience comparatively). She rediscovered the science of symbiotic evolution, pioneered by Russian scientists.

8
She was well-versed in postmodern theory and studied philosophy. She was fond of saying, "the first thing scientists need to learn is that there's no objective truth."
She knew hundreds of Emily Dickinson poems by heart and lived in the house next to hers in Amherst.

9
She won just about every science award you could ever win, except the Nobel, which she no doubt would have won had she not died of a stroke on this day in 2011.

10
In spite of her being one of the most influential and profound minds of our time, she is often overshadowed by her late husband, Carl Sagan. He was a fine person, but nowhere near as arduous in his efforts or profound in his thinking as Lynn Margulis.

11
I approached her after I started my grad studies as an MFA student. Lynn tried to dismiss me at first. "What does this have to do with environmental evolution?" was the first thing she said to me.

12
"I want to take your classes," I said.
"Oh!"
She was thrilled that I was in the humanities&wanted to take science courses. I studied with her for three yrs.
She became my closest teacher. She took me to science conferences and gave me my most profound educational experiences.

13
I learned not just about science from Lynn, but a whole new way of thinking. One that allows me to stand back and see the big picture - Gaia - and to lean forward and see the tiniest details - the microcosm.
She is one of the most brilliant visionaries of our time.

14
Lynn was a huge supporter of my decision to be in gay porn. She was lustful and sexual and very much a proponent of sexual liberation.

15
Please join me in honoring this tremendous intellect today.
I wrote an essay summarizing her work shortly after her death. It's under my Birthname so that her colleagues would recognize me as the author.
Here it is: http://www.wildriverreview.com/lit/essays/lean-forward-stand-back/ "
lynnmargulis  zoominginandout  earth  perspective  connerhabib  details  systemsthinking  bigpicture  gaia  microcosm  science  andrekhalil  carlsagan  postodernism  philosophy  principles  bacteria  evolution  richarddawkins  charlesdarwin  doriansagan 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Kolakowski on conservatism
"A Conservative Believes:

1. That in human life there never have been and never will be improvements that are not paid for with deteriorations and evils; thus, in considering each project of reform and amelioration, its price has to be assessed. Put another way, innumerable evils are compatible (i.e. we can suffer them comprehensively and simultaneously); but many goods limit or cancel each other, and therefore we will never enjoy them fully at the same time. A society in which there is no equality and no liberty of any kind is perfectly possible, yet a social order combining total equality and freedom is not. The same applies to the compatibility of planning and the principle of autonomy, to security and technical progress. Put yet another way, there is no happy ending in human history.

2. That we do not know the extent to which various traditional forms of social life--families, rituals, nations, religious communities--are indispensable if life in a society is to be tolerable or even possible. There are no grounds for believing that when we destroy these forms, or brand them as irrational, we increase the chance of happiness, peace, security, or freedom. We have no certain knowledge of what might occur if, for example, the monogamous family was abrogated, or if the time-honored custom of burying the dead were to give way to the rational recycling of corpses for industrial purposes. But we would do well to expect the worst.

3. That the idee fixe of the Enlightenment--that envy, vanity, greed, and aggression are all caused by the deficiencies of social institutions and that they will be swept away once these institutions are reformed-- is not only utterly incredible and contrary to all experience, but is highly dangerous. How on earth did all these institutions arise if they were so contrary to the true nature of man? To hope that we can institutionalize brotherhood, love, and altruism is already to have a reliable blueprint for despotism.

A Liberal Believes:

1. That the ancient idea that the purpose of the State is security still remains valid. It remains valid even if the notion of "security" is expanded to include not only the protection of persons and property by means of the law, but also various provisions of insurance: that people should not starve if they are jobless; that the poor should not be condemned to die through lack of medical help; that children should have free access to education--all these are also part of security. Yet security should never be confused with liberty. The State does not guarantee freedom by action and by regulating various areas of life, but by doing nothing. In fact security can be expanded only at the expense of liberty. In any event, to make people happy is not the function of the State.

2. That human communities are threatened not only by stagnation but also by degradation when they are so organized that there is no longer room for individual initiative and inventiveness. The collective suicide of mankind is conceivable, but a permanent human ant-heap is not, for the simple reason that we are not ants.

3. That it is highly improbable that a society in which all forms of competitiveness have been done away with would continue to have the necessary stimuli for creativity and progress. More equaliity is not an end in itself, but only a means. In other words, there is no point to the struggle for more equality if it results only in the leveling down off those who are better off, and not in the raising up of the underprivileged. Perfect equality is a self-defeating ideal.

A Socialist Believes:

1. That societies in which the pursuit of profit is the sole regulator of the productive system are threatened with as grievous--perhaps more grievous--catastrophes as are societies in which the profit motive has been entirely eliminated from the production-regulating forces. There are good reasons why freedom of economic activity should be limited for the sake of security, and why money should not automatically produce more money. But the limitation of freedom should be called precisely that, and should not be called a higher form of freedom.

2. That it is absurd and hypocritical to conclude that, simply because a perfect, conflictless society is impossible, every existing form of inequality is inevitable and all ways of profit-making justified. The kind of conservative anthropological pessimism which led to the astonishing belief that a progressive income tax was an inhuman abomination is just as suspect as the kind of historical optimism on which the Gulag Archipelago was based.

3. That the tendency to subject the economy to important social controls should be encouraged, even though the price to be paid is an increase in bureaucracy. Such controls, however, must be exercised within representative democracy. Thus it is essential to plan institutions that counteract the menace to freedom which is produced by the growth of these very controls.

So far as I can see, this set of regulative ideas is not self-contradictory. And therefore it is possible to be a conservative-liberal-socialist. This is equivalent to saying that those three particular designations are no longer mutually exclusive options."

[via: http://blog.ayjay.org/against-consequentialism/ ]
politics  via:ayjay  conservatism  liberalism  security  socialism  society  philosophy  enlightenment  envy  vanity  greed  aggression  brotherhood  love  altruism  despotism  happiness  peace  freedom  humans  economics  bureaucracy  democracy  pessimism  conflict  leszekkolakowski 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Against Productivity – The Message – Medium
"Here is what really happened in Puerto Rico four years ago: I fell into a funk, beat myself up a bit, and spent the rest of the time wandering around (mostly to the same places) and daydreaming. I wrote a few strange blog posts which no one read. I went a bit further into credit card debt. My days themselves were pretty quiet. I began to really think hard about what the internet does to society by just being the internet. I wrote out some of what I’d seen, and replayed them in my mind while I wandered around the beach. I made a video about being a robot in a Japanese blues bar asking if anyone could really see a singularity from inside of it. I tried to imagine 2010 me without the net. I tried to imagine 1989 me with the net. I talked about how the internet does and doesn’t change things in a place like PR. I read about Rwanda, and about the trade union history of PR and read and talked more about the history of coffee. Puerto Ricans are big on coffee. And then I left. I don’t remember where I went next.

But it all means something else now. When I look back on not only the wasted time in PR, but the couple of unproductive years around it I see it differently now. When I wasn’t beating myself up for not being productive enough, I was thinking about and interacting with the world. I was laying the first stones of a new foundation, a new way of thinking about networked culture, and even about our place on this planet. Instead of getting things done I was learning, smiling at people I didn’t share a language with, and cross-connecting the notions of my brain and the experiences of my life. It all lay fallow in me for a long time, as notes on my blog, snatches of poems, story bits to never be written. The pieces of this change were pieces of lyrics I wasted time writing on post-it notes I promptly lost, and articles I read instead of working and bits of conversation and pop songs that clung like ribbons and buttons and bits of flowers stuck all over my psyche.

My wasteful and unproductive time was the only time I asked: What should I be doing? What is a worthwhile life? And so it followed that was the only time when I could start to answer those questions. What is good work? Is any of this worth it? What makes life worth living? What good can I do in this world?

What is this world anyway?

I am only now beginning to harvest what was sown in that wasted and unproductive time. But now there are so many threads and ideas from that time, I can’t possibly follow them all. I see the world differently now. I like it more, and I see, just a tiny bit better, how it fits together.

Wisdom takes time. It takes staring out into the rain, It takes service to others. It takes getting nothing done to make us human again. To see the connections between things requires studying the blank spaces between them, days that slip into boredom and loneliness with only a person and their senses and their imagination to keep them company. I can now see that much of what I’ve written in the past year started in 2010, in Puerto Rico. I can see how the time around it allowed me to work the stories of 2011 and 2012 with an insight and understanding that I couldn’t have gotten without the failures to produce that shaped my 2009 and 2010. I can now see that my productive work — at least the good stuff, comes from my unproductive time, from my empty yearning to understand the world.

In many ways foolishness isn’t the opposite of wisdom, but its absence. Productivity is the opposite of wisdom. Humanity is a creature of time and imagination. From these things our fruits are born more than manufactured. Productivity is a quality of perfect robots. Stories, adventures and all new things still have to come from messy humans.

We should spend more time wasting time. We all need to be bored more. We all need to spend more time looking quizzically at birds we don’t recognize. We all need a little more time to connect the dots and see if they matter. I don’t know how much more, but sometimes you have to do things without knowing how much you need.

As for me, I want to go back to Puerto Rico."
productivity  life  philosophy  quinnorton  2017  slow  slowness  writing  idleness  transcontextualism  internet  web  networkedculture  purpose 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Aesop's Anthropology | Theorizing culture across species lines
[now a book:
https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/aesopas-anthropology

"Aesop’s Anthropology is a guide for thinking through the perplexing predicaments and encounters that arise as the line between human and nonhuman shifts in modern life. Recognizing that culture is not unique to humans, John Hartigan Jr. asks what we can learn about culture from other species. He pursues a variety of philosophical and scientific ideas about what it means to be social using cultural dynamics to rethink what we assume makes humans special and different from other forms of life. Through an interlinked series of brief essays, Hartigan explores how we can think differently about being human."]
johnhartiganjr  multispecies  morethanhuman  anthropology  culture  philosophy  science  books  toread 
october 2017 by robertogreco
The Great Africanstein Novel | by Namwali Serpell | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
"The title of Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s magisterial first novel, Kintu—first published in Kenya in 2014, then in the US this year by the Oakland-based press Transit Books—is a Luganda word. Luganda is a Bantu language spoken in Uganda; Bantu is a proto-language that just means people; there are languages derived from it all across the African continent. In Zambia, where I’m from, we spell this word chinthu. In both countries, it is pronounced chin-two and it means “thing.” In ancient Buganda mythology, however, Kintu is also the name of the first man, the equivalent to the Judeo-Christian Adam. The implications of this titular oxymoron—a word that means both “thing” and “man”—begin to unfold in the opening pages of Makumbi’s book.

There’s a knock at the door. A woman opens it to four local officials, who rouse her man, Kamu, from sleep and lead him outside for questioning. He assumes they’re there on behalf of a creditor but when they reach a marketplace, they bind his hands. Kamu protests: “Why are you tying me like a thief?” A mob swirls into being like a weather formation, the word thief flying “from here to there, first as a question then as a fact.” Kicks and blows begin to rain down on him, from both the elderly and the young. Arrivals to the scene ask, “‘Is it a thief?’ because Kamu had ceased to be human.” He tries to hold on to his humanity: “Kamu decided he was dreaming. He was Kamu Kintu, human. It was them, bantu. Humans. He would wake up any minute.” He does not.

The account of Kamu’s abrupt, arbitrary death on Monday, January 5, 2004, and the subsequent fate of his corpse in the bureaucratic torpor of Kampala’s morgue, recurs in short fragments at the start of each of the novel’s five sections, which tell the stories of other members of the scattered Kintu clan. First, we jump back three centuries to its first generation, headed by Kintu Kidda, a ppookino, or governor, of the Buddu province in the eighteenth-century Buganda Kingdom. In a moment of irritation, Kintu slaps his adopted son, a Rwandan, and the boy falls down dead. His men bury the body improperly: “the grave was narrow and shallow. They used a stick to measure Kalema’s length, but while the stick fit into the grave, Kalema did not. They crammed him in.” In their haste, the men do not even realize that they have buried the boy beside a burial shrub for dogs. The tragic repercussions of this desecration—“the curse was specific: mental illness, sudden death, and suicide”—ripple across the centuries through the lives of Kintu’s descendants.

Like Charles Dickens or Gabriel García Márquez, Makumbi ranges widely across time and social strata; her knowledge of Ugandan culture seems as precise as a historian’s. We meet Suubi Kintu, a young woman who grows up in a compound, perpetually on the brink of starvation, but is eventually integrated into a middle-class family. Kanani Kintu and his wife, Faisi, members of an evangelical group, the Awakened, bear a twin son and daughter with an uncomfortably close relationship. Isaac Newton Kintu, the product of rape and named for the last lesson his mother learned in school before she dropped out, gets trapped into marriage; when his wife dies, seemingly of AIDS, he anguishes over whether to learn his own HIV status. Miisi Kintu, a writer raised by colonial priests (the “white fathers”) and educated abroad, returns to a postcolonial Kampala still feeling the aftershocks of dictatorship and the bush war of the early Eighties, which killed some of his children. With its progression through generations and its cyclical returns to genetic inheritance—hay fever, twins, madness—Kintu’s structure feels epic.

Kintu continually diverts us from this straightforward path of a curse and its aftermath, however, as well as from our preconceptions about Africa. The polygamous eighteenth-century governor wants nothing more than to be with the woman he loves; the Awakened couple experience their enviably passionate sex life as a torment; the spiritual leader of a ritual cleansing is so “anglicized” that the assembled family members doubt his efficacy. Social class is defined neither by strict stratification nor by upward mobility, but by extreme volatility—economic fates rise and fall almost at random. Servant girls become educated women, sons of professors come to live in slums.

Makumbi’s depiction of local culture also bears little resemblance to standard notions of African “authenticity.” Her Uganda is an unabashed amalgam of Europe and Africa, in everything from cooking to spiritual possession to mental health to sexual mores. As Makumbi said in an interview:
We are both Europeanized and Ugandan. We speak both traditional languages and English. Someone goes to church, but then will go to the traditional healer. Someone is a scientist but will have an intense spiritual life. We have this saying in Uganda: “God help me, but I’m going to run as well.” We think two ways at once.

In the novel, Miisi conjures an image of African postcolonialism that captures this sensibility. He pictures the black torso of the continent but stripped of its limbs, which have been replaced with European ones. “We cannot go back to the operating table and ask for the African limbs,” he writes. “Africa must learn to walk on European legs and work with European arms. As time goes by, children will be born with evolved bodies.” Makumbi’s portmanteau for this Gothic image enacts the very grafting it describes: Africanstein.

Kintu cannot but be in some sense the story of a people, the Ganda, and a nation, Uganda. But its politics are personal. Idi Amin and the bush wars emerge in conversation, in acts of mourning. The ins and outs of the ancient Buganda Kingdom’s secessions and coups seem incidental to the personal tragedy of Kintu Kidda, his wives, and their children. Makumbi has said that she intentionally skipped the nation’s colonial history: “The almost complete lack of colonization was deliberate…. To me colonization was my grandfather’s quarrel.” So, without the usual lenses of class, culture, and colonialism—without “Queen and Country,” so to speak—how are we to read this “African” novel?"



"Oddly enough, despite all this generalizing and pigeonholing, African writers are rarely thought to speak to the universal—in the philosophical sense rather than the platitudinous one. But if, as Makumbi noted at an event in Brooklyn last June, the origin of the human species is probably East Africa, then why can’t Kampala be the center of a profoundly universal inquiry? As its two-faced title—man/thing—suggests, Kintu does in fact have a grand philosophical question in mind. The novel forces us to reckon over and again with what it means to be kintu, to be man, or human. This question plays out across certain boundaries: between men and women, between twins, between life and death, between “mankind” and “animalkind,” between good and evil, between human and supernatural worlds, between foreigners and family, and, of course, between humans and objects."



"Miisi completely loses his grip on reality and starts wearing a Western-style waistcoat and coat over his kanzu. In his dishevelment, he comes to resemble his ancestor with that strange thing/person name, Kintu. Miisi becomes a man “floating in two worlds.” Which two worlds? Boyhood and manhood, past and present, muntu and muzungu, Europe and Africa? “I know who I am,” Miisi tells his daughter, “We are not even Hamites. We are Bantu.” But she thinks, “He is now a different person.” In the end, he is riven by his divisions, “in the middle world between sanity and insanity.”

To survive being human, Kintu suggests, is to hold all these divisions together, gently, to “just be.” This argument about personhood is radical because it rejects a long philosophical tradition of considering “humanity” as a matter of self-containment and integrity, of what the human excludes. It is also radical because Makumbi centers this argument in Uganda. But what better place, with its arbitrarily sketched borders, its pliable myths and cultures, its originary status—cradle of the first human/thing—to stage an interrogation of personhood? As Makumbi has remarked in passing about living as an immigrant in the UK: “Out here you are Ugandan. At home you are just human.”"
jennifernansubugamakumbi  namwaliserpell  books  literature  kintu  kampala  ugnda  africaisnotacountry  2017  toread  universal  universalism  humans  humanism  objects  betweenness  seams  gender  supernatural  middleground  gray  grey  humanity  personhood  integrity  self-containment  borders  identity  myth  culture  sexuality  history  colonialism  postcolonialism  human  colonization  europe  decolonization  frankenstein  africanstein  africa  africans  twins  multispecies  morethanhuman  life  living  philosophy  divisions  interstitial  liminality  liminalspaces  liminalstates  between 
october 2017 by robertogreco
The Touch of Madness - Pacific Standard
"So Jones grew alarmed when, soon after starting at DePaul in the fall of 2007, at age 27, she began having trouble retaining things she had just read. She also struggled to memorize the new characters she was learning in her advanced Chinese class. She had experienced milder versions of these cognitive and memory blips a couple times before, most recently as she’d finished her undergraduate studies earlier that year. These new mental glitches were worse. She would study and draw the new logograms one night, then come up short when she tried to draw them again the next morning.

These failures felt vaguely neurological. As if her synapses had clogged. She initially blamed them on the sleepless, near-manic excitement of finally being where she wanted to be. She had wished for exactly this, serious philosophy and nothing but, for half her life. Now her mind seemed to be failing. Words started to look strange. She began experiencing "inarticulable atmospheric changes," as she put it—not hallucinations, really, but alterations of temporality, spatiality, depth perception, kinesthetics. Shimmerings in reality's fabric. Sidewalks would feel soft and porous. Audio and visual input would fall out of sync, creating a lag between the movement of a speaker's lips and the words' arrival at Jones' ears. Something was off.

"You look at your hand," as she described it to me later, holding hers up and examining it front and back, "and it looks the same as always. But it's not. It's yours—but it's not. Nothing has changed"—she let her hand drop to her knee—"yet it's different. And that's what gets you. There's nothing to notice; but you can't help but notice."

Another time she found herself staring at the stone wall of a building on campus and realizing that the wall's thick stone possessed two contradictory states. She recognized that the wall was immovable and that, if she punched it, she'd break her hand. Yet she also perceived that the stone was merely a constellation of atomic particles so tenuously bound that, if she blew on it, it would come apart. She experienced this viscerally. She felt the emptiness within the stone.

Initially she found these anomalies less threatening than weird. But as they intensified, the gap between what she was perceiving and what she could understand rationally generated an unbearable cognitive dissonance. How could something feel so wrong but she couldn't say what? She had read up the wazoo about perception, phenomenology, subjectivity, consciousness. She of all people should be able to articulate what she was experiencing. Yet she could not. "Language had betrayed me," she says. "There was nothing you could point to and say, 'This looks different about the world.' There were no terms. I had no fucking idea."

Too much space was opening within and around and below her. She worried she was going mad. She had seen what madness looked like from the outside. When Jones was in her teens, one of her close relatives, an adult she'd always seen frequently, and whom we'll call Alex for privacy reasons, had in early middle age fallen into a state of almost relentless schizophrenia. It transformed Alex from a warm, caring, and open person who was fully engaged with the world into somebody who was isolated from it—somebody who seemed remote, behaved in confusing and alarming ways, and periodically required hospitalization. Jones now started to worry this might be happening to her."



"Reading philosophy helped Jones think. It helped order the disorderly. Yet later, in college, she lit up when she discovered the writers who laid the philosophical foundation for late 20-century critical psychiatry and madness studies: Michel Foucault, for instance, who wrote about how Western culture, by medicalizing madness, brands the mad as strangers to human nature. Foucault described both the process and the alienating effect of this exclusion-by-definition, or "othering," as it soon came to be known, and how the mad were cut out and cast away, flung into pits of despair and confusion, leaving ghosts of their presence behind.

To Jones, philosophy, not medicine, best explained the reverberations from the madness that had touched her family: the disappearance of the ex-husband; the alienation of Alex, who at times seemed "there but not there," unreachable. Jones today describes the madness in and around her family as a koan, a puzzle that teaches by its resistance to solution, and which forces upon her the question of how to speak for those who may not be able to speak for themselves.

Jones has since made a larger version of this question—of how we think of and treat the mad, and why in the West we usually shunt them aside—her life's work. Most of this work radiates from a single idea: Culture shapes the experience, expression, and outcome of madness. The idea is not that culture makes one mad. It's that culture profoundly influences every aspect about how madness develops and expresses itself, from its onset to its full-blown state, from how the afflicted experience it to how others respond to it, whether it destroys you or leaves you whole.

This idea is not original to Jones. It rose from the observation, first made at least a century ago and well-documented now, that Western cultures tend to send the afflicted into a downward spiral rarely seen in less modernized cultures. Schizophrenia actually has a poorer prognosis for people in the West than for those in less urbanized, non-Eurocentric societies. When the director of the World Health Organization's mental-health unit, Shekhar Saxena, was asked last year where he'd prefer to be if he were diagnosed with schizophrenia, he said for big cities he'd prefer a city in Ethiopia or Sri Lanka, like Colombo or Addis Ababa, rather than New York or London, because in the former he could expect to be seen as a productive if eccentric citizen rather than a reject and an outcast.

Over the past 25 years or so, the study of culture's effect on schizophrenia has received increasing attention from philosophers, historians, psychiatrists, anthropologists, and epidemiologists, and it is now edging into the mainstream. In the past five years, Nev Jones has made herself one of this view's most forceful proponents and one of the most effective advocates for changing how Western culture and psychiatry respond to people with psychosis. While still a graduate student at DePaul she founded three different groups to help students with psychosis continue their studies. After graduating in 2014, she expanded her reach first into the highest halls of academe, as a scholar at Stanford University, and then into policy, working with state and private agencies in California and elsewhere on programs for people with psychosis, and with federal agencies to produce toolkits for universities, students, and families about dealing with psychosis emerging during college or graduate study. Now in a new position as an assistant professor at the University of South Florida, she continues to examine—and ask the rest of us to see—how culture shapes madness.

In the United States, the culture's initial reaction to a person's first psychotic episode, embedded most officially in a medical system that sees psychosis and schizophrenia as essentially biological, tends to cut the person off instantly from friends, social networks, work, and their sense of identity. This harm can be greatly reduced, however, when a person's first care comes from the kind of comprehensive, early intervention programs, or EIPs, that Jones works on. These programs emphasize truly early intervention, rather than the usual months-long lag between first symptoms and any help; high, sustained levels of social, educational, and vocational support; and building on the person's experience, ambitions, and strengths to keep them as functional and engaged as possible. Compared to treatment as usual, EIPs lead to markedly better outcomes across the board, create more independence, and seem to create far less trauma for patients and their family and social circles."



"Once his eye was caught, Kraepelin started seeing culture's effects everywhere. In his native Germany, for instance, schizophrenic Saxons were more likely to kill themselves than were Bavarians, who were, in turn, more apt to do violence to others. In a 1925 trip to North America, Kraepelin found that Native Americans with schizophrenia, like Indonesians, didn't build in their heads the elaborate delusional worlds that schizophrenic Europeans did, and hallucinated less.

Kraepelin died in 1926, before he could publish a scholarly version of those findings. Late in his life, he embraced some widely held but horrific ideas about scientific racism and eugenics. Yet he had clearly seen that culture exerted a powerful, even fundamental, effect on the intensity, nature, and duration of symptoms in schizophrenia, and in bipolar disorder and depression. He urged psychiatrists to explore just how culture created such changes.

Even today, few in medicine have heeded this call. Anthropologists, on the other hand, have answered it vigorously over the last couple of decades. To a cultural anthropologist, culture includes the things most of us would expect—movies, music, literature, law, tools, technologies, institutions, and traditions. It also includes a society's predominant ideas, values, stories, interpretations, beliefs, symbols, and framings—everything from how we should dress, greet one another, and prepare and eat food, to what it means to be insane. Madness, in other words, is just one more thing about which a culture constructs and applies ideas that guide thought and behavior.

But what connects these layers of culture to something so seemingly internal as a person's state of mind? The biocultural anthropologist Daniel Lende says that it helps here to think of culture as a series of concentric circles surrounding each of us. For simplicity's sake, let's keep it to two circles around a core, with each circle … [more]
2017  daviddobbs  mentalhealth  psychology  health  culture  madness  nevjones  japan  ethiopia  colombo  addisababa  schizophrenia  society  srilanka  shekharsaxena  philosophy  perception  treatment  medicine  psychosis  media  academia  anthropology  daniellende  pauleugenbleuler  emilkraepelin  danielpaulschreber  edwadsapir  relationships  therapy  tinachanter  namitagoswami  irenehurford  richardnoll  ethanwatters  wolfgangjilek  wolfgangpfeiffer  stigma  banishment  hallucinations  really  but  alterations  of  temporality  time  spatiality  depthperception  kinesthetics  memory  memories  reality  phenomenology  subjectivity  consciousness  donaldwinnicott  alienation  kinship  isolation  tanyaluhrmann 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Profile: AURA: Aarhus University Research on the Anthropocene
"We have entered the Anthropocene - a new geologic epoch, defined by unprecedented human disturbance of the earth’s ecosystems.

The Anthropocene is a confusing age. At a time when humans have come to be a 'force of nature' that is instrumental in causing rapid, often unintended, changes to the earth they inhabit, nature in its classical sense is over. Nature itself has become a cultural side-effect, a side-effect full of unintended consequences.

At the heart of our confusion is the problem of unintentional design on anthropogenic, i.e. human disturbed, landscapes. Human projects do not always result in the landscapes of which we dream. Climate change is one example of unintentional design; new zoonotic diseases are another. As these examples suggest, we tend to imagine unintentional design as a danger to human survival. But what if anthropogenic landscapes were sometimes also sites of new designs for living—unplanned but still life-enhancing?

New approaches that cut across the conventional divide between the human sciences and the life sciences are required to consider these Anthropocene dilemmas.  "Living in the Anthropocene: Discovering the potential of unintentional design on anthropogenic landscapes" is a research project at Aarhus University that seeks to study these dilemmas.

Headed by Niels Bohr professor and anthropologist Anna Tsing, the project aims to open up a novel and truly trans-disciplinary field of research into the Anthropocene.  Applying insights and methods from anthropology, biology and philosophy, the  project will focus on the 'co-species landscapes' that humans and other species come to co-inhabit in the Anthropocene.  The projects suggests that a descriptive and trans-disciplinary approach is needed to understand the kinds of lives that are made and the futures that are possible in the ruined, re-wilded, and unintended landscapes of the Anthropocene."
annalowenhaupttsing  anthropocene  capitalism  climatechange  nielsbohr  aarhusuniversity  multispecies  ecosystems  landscapes  anthropology  biology  philosophy  morethanhuman  annatsing 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Monstrous, Duplicated, Potent | Issue 28 | n+1
"On first read, I was dazzled and bewildered. Desperate to impress the organizer, who I thought brilliant, I strained over it line by line in hopes of insight. In the end, I mumbled through our meeting. I didn’t understand the Manifesto until I’d read it three more times. In truth, I probably still don’t. But for a young woman struggling to understand the world after Hurricane Katrina and a global financial crisis, Haraway beckoned. She offered a way to make sense of the things that seemed absent from politics as I knew it: science, nature, feminism.

The Manifesto proclaims itself to be against origin stories, but its own is hard to resist. In 1982, the Marxist journal Socialist Review — a bicoastal publication originally titled Socialist Revolution, whose insurrectionary name was moderated in the late 1970s as politics soured — asked Haraway to write five pages on the priorities of socialist feminism in the Reagan era. Haraway responded with thirty. It was the first piece, she claimed, she had ever written on a computer (a Hewlett-Packard-86). The submission caused controversy at the journal, with disagreement breaking down along geographic lines. As Haraway later recalled in an interview, “The East Coast Collective truly disapproved of it politically and did not want it published.” The more catholic West Coast won out, and the Manifesto was published in 1985 as “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the 1980s,” though it has been known colloquially as the Cyborg Manifesto ever since.

In one sense, Haraway did what she was asked: she outlined the contemporary state of political economy from a socialist-feminist perspective. Her reading of the shift to post-Fordism was loose but lucid. The rise of communications technologies made it possible to disperse labor globally while still controlling it, she noted, scattering once-unionized factory jobs across the continents. The gender of industrial work was changing too: there were more women assembling computer chips in East Asia than men slapping together cars in the American Midwest. Automation was lighter and brighter: in place of hulking industrial machinery, our “machines are made of sunshine” — but this light, invisible power nevertheless caused “immense human pain in Detroit and Singapore.” Family structures were changing: mothers increasingly worked outside the home and headed up the household. The result was what Haraway, drawing on Richard Gordon, called the homework economy — a pointed term for what’s euphemistically and blandly called the service economy.

The Manifesto offered a new politics for this new economy. Prescient about the need to organize the feminized, if not always female, sectors, Haraway explicitly called leftists to support SEIU District 925, a prominent campaign to unionize office workers. She also criticized the idea of a universal subject, whether held up by Marxists (the proletarian) or radical feminists (the woman). A new politics had to be constructed not around a singular agent but on the basis of a patchwork of identities and affinities. How, then, to find unity across difference, make political subjects in a postmodern era, and build power without presuming consensus? “One is too few, but two are too many,” she wrote cryptically. “One is too few, and two is only one possibility.” Acting as isolated individuals leads nowhere, but the effort to act collectively cannot leave difference aside. Women of color, Haraway suggested, following Chela Sandoval, could not rely on the stability of either category; they might lead the way in forging a new, nonessentialist unity based on affinity rather than identity.

This is where the metaphor of the cyborg comes in. For Haraway, the cyborg is a hybrid figure that crosses boundaries: between human and machine, human and animal, organism and machine, reality and fiction. As a political subject, it is expansive enough to encompass the range of human experience in all its permutations. A hybrid, it is more than one, but less than two.

In place of old political formations, Haraway imagined new cyborgian ones. She hoped that “the unnatural cyborg women making chips in Asia and spiral dancing in Santa Rita Jail” would together “guide effective oppositional strategies.” Her paradigmatic “cyborg society” was the Livermore Action Group, an antinuclear activist group targeting the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a nuclear-weapons-research facility in Northern California. The group, she thought, was “committed to building a political form that actually manages to hold together witches, engineers, elders, perverts, Christians, mothers, and Leninists long enough to disarm the state.”

What set the Manifesto apart from other reconceptions of feminism was its embrace of science. The cyborg was a figure that only a feminist biologist — herself an unlikely figure — could imagine. While by the 1980s many feminists were wary of biological claims about sexual difference, evading charges of essentialism by separating sex from gender (biology might give you a certain body, but society conditioned how you lived in it), Haraway argued that failing to take a position on biology was to “lose too much” — to surrender the notion of the body itself as anything more than a “blank page for social inscriptions.” Distinguishing her attachment to the body from the usual Earth Mother connotations was its famous closing line: “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.”

Who wouldn’t? The cyborg’s popularity was no doubt fueled in part by the vision of a bionic babe it suggested — a Furiosa or the Terminator — though it couldn’t be further from her meaning. Asked what she considered a true moment of cyborgness in 1999, Haraway responded, “the sense of the intricacy, interest, and pleasure — as well as the intensity — of how I have imagined how like a leaf I am.” The point was not that she shared some biological commonality with a leaf, or that she felt leaves to be kindred spirits (though she very well might have). What made her giddy was the thought of all the work that had gone into producing the knowledge that she was like a leaf — how incredible it was to be able to know such a thing — and the kinds of relationship to a leaf that such knowledge made possible.

Despite her frequent reminders that it was written as a “mostly sober” intervention into socialist-feminist politics rather than “the ramblings of a blissed-out, techno-bunny fembot,” many still read it as the latter. Wired profiled her enthusiastically in 1997. “To boho twentysomethings,” they wrote, “her name has the kind of cachet usually reserved for techno acts or new phenethylamines.” (More recently, the entrepreneurial synthetic biologist Drew Endy deployed the Manifesto in support of his bid to label synthetic biological products as “natural” under federal guidelines to increase their appeal to cautious consumers.)

Its Reagan-era coordinates may have changed, but the Manifesto remains Haraway’s most widely read work. The cyborg became a celebrity, as did Haraway herself, both serving as signifiers of a queer, savvy, self-aware feminism. Yet she has grown weary of its success, admonishing readers that “cyborgs are critters in a queer litter, not the Chief Figure of Our Times.”

Somewhat counterintuitively, it’s Haraway herself who sometimes seems the Chief Figure. There’s no Harawavian school, though she has many acolytes. She does not belong to any particular school herself, though many have attempted to place her. You can’t really do a Harawavian analysis of the economy or the laboratory; other than the cyborg, she’s produced few portable concepts or frameworks. Her own individual prominence runs counter to her view of intellectual work as collectively produced. Yet for thirty years she’s been ahead of intellectual trends, not by virtue of building foundational frameworks but by inspiring others to spawn and spur entire fields, from feminist science studies to multispecies ethics. Her work tends to emerge from problems she sees in the world rather than from engagement with literatures, thinkers, or trends, yet it manages to transcend mere timeliness.

Her new book, Staying with the Trouble, is a commentary on the most pressing threat of our era: catastrophic climate change. It’s hard to think of someone better suited to the task. Climate change requires ways of thinking capable of confronting the closely bound future of countless humans and nonhumans, the basis for certainty in scientific findings, the political consequences of such knowledge, and the kinds of political action that such consequences call for. If Haraway has long practiced such hybrid thinking, that also means the problem best suited to challenging her thought — to testing its mettle, and its usefulness to our political future — has decisively arrived."



"Under Hutchinson’s supervision, she wrote a dissertation heavily influenced by Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 landmark The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn had caused an uproar with his argument that rather than steadily progressing toward truth, the production of scientific knowledge was marked by conflict and upheaval. What scientists had once been certain was true would eventually be considered wrong. Each emerging framework was often incommensurable with what had come before. Kuhn called this phenomenon a “paradigm shift.” A classic example was the transition from Newtonian physics to Einsteinian relativity."

[See also: "Cthulhu plays no role for me"
https://www.viewpointmag.com/2017/05/08/cthulhu-plays-no-role-for-me/ ]
donnaharaway  2017  science  scientism  feminism  cyborgs  serviceeconomy  economics  academia  philosophy  1982  1985  california  ucsantacruz  queerness  biology  nancyhartstock  marxism  fredericjameson  hueynewton  angeladavis  historyofconsciousness  teresadelauretis  climatechange  anthropocene  naomiklein  blockadia  rustenhogness  kinstanleyrobinson  cyborgmanifesto  jamesclifford  histcon  alyssabattistoni  blackpantherparty  bobbyseale  jayemiller  historyofscience  radicalism  radicalscience  multispecies  animals  praxis  gregorybateson  systemsthinking  language  storytelling  politics  intersectionality  situatedknowledge  solidarity  perspective  thomaskuhn  epistemology  reality  consciousness  primatology  theory  empiricism  octaviabutler  sciencefiction  scifi  patriarchy  colonialism  racism  ignorance  objectivity  curiosity  technology  biotechnology  technofuturism  companionspecies  dogs  ethics  chthulucene  capitalocene  ursulaleguin  utopia  mundane  kinship  families  unity  friendship  work  labor  hope  sophielewis  blackpanthers 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Why I became a philosophy teacher: to get children thinking about the big ideas in life | Teacher Network | The Guardian
"The emphasis on knowledge in schools led Steve Hoggins to take up philosophy teaching and encourage more thinking and questioning in the classroom"



"I failed all my A-levels apart from one E grade in English. I had moved schools for sixth form and my priority was trying to be cool and having loads of friends. I spent more time in pubs underage drinking than doing my home work. I thought my life was over, then Lampeter University threw me a lifeline and said I could do a one-year diploma and then go on to do a degree but, by a strange administrative error, I ended up doing the degree straight away anyway.

My own experience of education means I can really relate to young people at both secondary and primary level who don't want to do something because they are told to do it. I can also understand and admire the brilliance of young minds who find a way to get round rules and still get to do what they want. These kids resonate with me."



"
In my final placement at a school in Bradninch in Devon I worked with a great year 6 teacher who was into doing critical thinking and I started experimenting with Socratic questioning. That same week I read a magazine article about Pete Worley from the Philosophy Foundation describing using philosophy in class. I remember thinking: "That's it! There's a philosophy shaped hole in the curriculum." We focus so much on knowledge, there isn't enough thinking going on.

So after my PGCE I came down to London and did a course with the Philosophy Foundation. I did my teaching practice at Rathfern Primary school in south east London, working at first with a year 6 class. The headteacher watched me delivering the session and encouraged me to apply for a full-time job as a class teacher to complete my NQT year.

So I started teaching a year 4-5 class. It was the worst year of my life. I was living alone without any network of friends or family and I found the work so hard. All the boxes to tick were a huge problem for me. Part of me said I can't do it and another part said the children shouldn't have to do it and I generally just fell to pieces.

I failed some lesson observations and the head was worried I'd fail my NQT year. I thought I should just leave the school but the head suggested I try working in early years and foundation stage (EYFS). I didn't know what else to do, so I took up the head's offer.

Teaching in EYFS was one of the best experiences of my teaching life. When you mark work of older children you do so on levels of certain criteria. So if you have a piece of writing that has terrible spelling, no connectives, no capital letters you have to give it a terrible grade, even though in its concept the piece of writing really made you think and was fascinating. The ideas in it can't be graded. I found that so depressing and frustrating.

But in EYFS you can approach a child anywhere, not just at the table; for example, at the water tray and ask questions and they can explore ideas. It's a lot more fluid, and you can find opportunities to hit the objectives."



"The first lesson I ever did with the year 8 and 9s at Harris Aspire was awful, they ground me to dust. But my work there is going from strength to strength. We've been able to cover really difficult issues in a really intense way, from beating children to whether we should obey laws and rules, so it's in a real-life context. My work in primary schools stays fun and friendly.

The effect on children of doing philosophy sessions is huge. The most obvious change is confidence in speaking out in front of a group. Children aren't expected to know the answer or to correctly guess the teacher's ideas. That's a big change from ordinary lessons. If you know something because the teacher has told you or because you read it in a book you can say it quite confidently. But when children can give a set of reasons for something that they've worked though, discussed and thought for themselves that gives an entirely different level of confidence.

I want to carry on doing this, my dream is for every child to do philosophy. Getting people thinking is a massive thing with life changing and potentially world changing consequences."
sfsh  education  teaching  pedagogy  learning  howwlearn  unschooling  deschooling  philosophy  stevehoggins  2013  classideas  writing  teachingwriting  howweteach  howwelearn 
january 2017 by robertogreco
William Kentridge Interview: How We Make Sense of the World - YouTube
""There is a desperation in al certainty. The category of political uncertainty, philosophical uncertainty, uncertainty of images is much closer to how the world is", says South African artist William Kentridge in this video presenting his work.

"The films come out of a need to make an image, an impulse to make a film, and the meaning emerges over the months of the making of the film. The only meaning they have in advance is the need for the film to exist".

William Kentridge (b. 1955) is South Africa's most important contemporary artist, best known for his prints, drawings and animated films. In this video he presents his work, his way of working and his philosophy.

He tells the story of how he failed to be an artist:

"I failed at painting, I failed at acting, I failed at film making, so I discovered at the age of 30 I was back making drawings". It was not until he told himself he was an artist with all he wanted to included in the term - that he felt he was on the right track. "It took me a long time to unlearn the advice I had been giving. For for me the only hope was the cross fertilization between the different medias and genres."

William Kentridge talks about the origin of his animated films with drawing in front of the camera. "I was interested in seeing how a drawing would come into being". "It was from the charcoal drawing that the process of animation expanded". With charcoal "you can change a drawing as quickly as you can think".

"I am interested in showing the process of thinking. The way that one constructs a film out of these fragments that one reinterprets retrospectively - and changes the time of - is my sense of how we make sense of the world. And so the animated films can be a demonstration of how we make sense of the world rather than an instruction about what the world means."

"Uncertainty is an essential category. As soon as one gets certain their voice gets louder, more authoritarian and authoritative and to defend themselves they will bring an army and guns to stand next to them to hold. There is a desperation in al certainty. The category of political uncertainty, philosophical uncertainty, uncertainty of images is much closer to how the world is. That is also related to provisionality, to the fact that you can see the world as a series of facts or photographs or you can see it as a process of unfolding. Where the same thing in a different context has a very different meaning or very different form."

"I learned much more from the theatre school in Paris, Jacques Lecoq, a school of movement and mime, than I ever did from the art lessons. It is about understanding the way of thinking through the body. Making art is a practical activity. It is not sitting at a computer. It is embodying an idea in a physical material, paper, charcoal, steal, wood."

William Kentridge will work on a piece not knowing if it will come out as a dead end or a piece of art, giving it the benefit of the doubt, not judging it in advance, he says.

The artist has been compared to Buster Keaton and Gerorge Méliès. He mentions Hogarth, Francis Bacon, Manet, Philip Guston, Picasso, the Dadaists, Samuel Beckett and Mayakovski as inspirations.

"I am considered a political artist by some people and as a non-political artist by other political artists. I am interested in the politics of certainty and the demagoguery of certainty and the fragility of making sense of the world", William Kentridge states.

This video shows different excerpts from the work: 'The Journey to the Moon' (2003), 'The Refusal of Time' (2012) 'What Will Come (has already come)' (2007).

William Kentridge was interviewed by Christian Lund at the Deutsche Staatstheater in Hamburg in January 2014 in connection with the performance of the stage version of 'The Refusal of Time', called 'Refuse The Hour'."
williamkentridge  art  thinking  uncertainty  certainty  artists  provisionality  busterkeaton  georgeméliès  christianlund  therefusaloftime  accretion  process  making  filmmaking  philosophy  sensemaking  makingsense  unlearning  howework  howwethink  authoritarianism  chance  fortune  unschooling  deschooling  unknowing  hogarth  francisbacon  manet  philipguston  picasso  samuelbeckett  mayakovski 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Can religion be based on ritual practice without belief? | Aeon Essays
"Most Japanese reject religious belief while embracing multiple forms of ritual practice. Are they religious or secular?"



"The combination of worldly concerns with religion is not unique to Japan, of course. However, the discussion above highlights several clear discrepancies between religion in Japan and the typical associations derived from Western monotheistic traditions. So does the word religion describe what we find in Japan? Yes it does, but with one important qualification: for the concept of religion to remain a useful cross-cultural category it must be shorn of its Abrahamic assumptions and understood to refer to a range of concepts and traditions that not only cluster around supernatural beliefs, but also practices, like rituals and festivals.

Some disagree with this view, such as the religious studies scholar Jason Ananda Josephson at Williams College in Massachusetts who explained to me via email that ‘the word “religion” is a fundamentally Eurocentric term that always functions, no matter how well-disguised, to describe a perceived similarity to European Christianity’. Josephson elaborated on this perspective in his well-received book The Invention of Religion in Japan (2012), which details the various negotiations and political struggles involved in deciding what constituted religion in the country during the Meiji era. He highlights that the present-day translation for ‘religion’ in Japanese – shūkyō – is a ‘Meiji neologism’ that ‘transformed the things classified under it and the things excluded from membership’, and also explains that a big problem he has with the term ‘religion’ is that ‘it has a multiplicity of incompatible meanings’.

When I raised these points in a discussion with Ian Reader, he said that although he admires Josephson’s work, he strongly disagrees with his assessment that we should ‘jettison a term in the 21st century which has developed a set of meanings in that context because of its possible mid-19th century derivation’. He also explained that in Japan ‘there is an intellectual and political tradition that accords weight to the notion of “religion” as a category… [and this] indicated clearly that [it] is not some Western structure arbitrarily imposed… by colonial-style powers’. Reader also said that while the term can be vague, he still believes that the concept serves as a ‘viable framework of discussion and interpretation for scholars that enables them to engage… with scholars studying similar issues elsewhere’. This accords with my own experiences as a cognitive anthropologist working on large inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural projects that were only possible because we utilize a shared terminology that includes a nuanced definition of religion.

Religion is not a category of human activity that is always and everywhere clearly distinguishable from other spheres of human life. And it is also true that what would be referred to as ‘religion’ varies across eras and locations. Yet this does not make the term semantically incoherent, nor is it the case that modern usage of the term must cling to usages of the past.

The grand theories of old failed because they conceived of religion as a monolithic phenomenon that evolved linearly over time. Modern approaches do not need to endorse such assumptions. Instead, as with the definitions of religion which are currently favoured in the cognitive science of religion field, it is possible to recognise that religion does not refer to any single thing but rather to a family of related concepts that serve to identify a meaningful and circumscribed field of inquiry. We have no greater cause to abandon the term religion for its inherent fuzziness than we do to abandon other broad terms, like politics or kinship. Ultimately, we must step back from such academic minutiae and return to exploring what we find in the world by putting to use our always-imperfect analytical tools."
japan  religion  secularism  tradition  philosophy  belief  2016  religiosity  buddhism  shintoism  christopherkavanagh 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Against Interpretation
[before quoting the entirety, quoting one line:

"What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more."]

"“Content is a glimpse of something, an encounter like a flash. It’s very tiny - very tiny, content.”
- Willem De Kooning, in an interview

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”
- Oscar Wilde, in a letter

1

The earliest experience of art must have been that it was incantatory, magical; art was an instrument of ritual. (Cf. the paintings in the caves at Lascaux, Altamira, Niaux, La Pasiega, etc.) The earliest theory of art, that of the Greek philosophers, proposed that art was mimesis, imitation of reality.

It is at this point that the peculiar question of the value of art arose. For the mimetic theory, by its very terms, challenges art to justify itself.

Plato, who proposed the theory, seems to have done so in order to rule that the value of art is dubious. Since he considered ordinary material things as themselves mimetic objects, imitations of transcendent forms or structures, even the best painting of a bed would be only an “imitation of an imitation.” For Plato, art is neither particularly useful (the painting of a bed is no good to sleep on), nor, in the strict sense, true. And Aristotle’s arguments in defense of art do not really challenge Plato’s view that all art is an elaborate trompe l’oeil, and therefore a lie. But he does dispute Plato’s idea that art is useless. Lie or no, art has a certain value according to Aristotle because it is a form of therapy. Art is useful, after all, Aristotle counters, medicinally useful in that it arouses and purges dangerous emotions.

In Plato and Aristotle, the mimetic theory of art goes hand in hand with the assumption that art is always figurative. But advocates of the mimetic theory need not close their eyes to decorative and abstract art. The fallacy that art is necessarily a “realism” can be modified or scrapped without ever moving outside the problems delimited by the mimetic theory.

The fact is, all Western consciousness of and reflection upon art have remained within the confines staked out by the Greek theory of art as mimesis or representation. It is through this theory that art as such - above and beyond given works of art - becomes problematic, in need of defense. And it is the defense of art which gives birth to the odd vision by which something we have learned to call “form” is separated off from something we have learned to call “content,” and to the well-intentioned move which makes content essential and form accessory.

Even in modern times, when most artists and critics have discarded the theory of art as representation of an outer reality in favor of the theory of art as subjective expression, the main feature of the mimetic theory persists. Whether we conceive of the work of art on the model of a picture (art as a picture of reality) or on the model of a statement (art as the statement of the artist), content still comes first. The content may have changed. It may now be less figurative, less lucidly realistic. But it is still assumed that a work of art is its content. Or, as it’s usually put today, that a work of art by definition says something. (“What X is saying is . . . ,” “What X is trying to say is . . .,” “What X said is . . .” etc., etc.)

2

None of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art knew no need to justify itself, when one did not ask of a work of art what it said because one knew (or thought one knew) what it did. From now to the end of consciousness, we are stuck with the task of defending art. We can only quarrel with one or another means of defense. Indeed, we have an obligation to overthrow any means of defending and justifying art which becomes particularly obtuse or onerous or insensitive to contemporary needs and practice.

This is the case, today, with the very idea of content itself. Whatever it may have been in the past, the idea of content is today mainly a hindrance, a nuisance, a subtle or not so subtle philistinism.

Though the actual developments in many arts may seem to be leading us away from the idea that a work of art is primarily its content, the idea still exerts an extraordinary hegemony. I want to suggest that this is because the idea is now perpetuated in the guise of a certain way of encountering works of art thoroughly ingrained among most people who take any of the arts seriously. What the overemphasis on the idea of content entails is the perennial, never consummated project of interpretation. And, conversely, it is the habit of approaching works of art in order to interpret them that sustains the fancy that there really is such a thing as the content of a work of art.

3

Of course, I don’t mean interpretation in the broadest sense, the sense in which Nietzsche (rightly) says, “There are no facts, only interpretations.” By interpretation, I mean here a conscious act of the mind which illustrates a certain code, certain “rules” of interpretation.

Directed to art, interpretation means plucking a set of elements (the X, the Y, the Z, and so forth) from the whole work. The task of interpretation is virtually one of translation. The interpreter says, Look, don’t you see that X is really - or, really means - A? That Y is really B? That Z is really C?

What situation could prompt this curious project for transforming a text? History gives us the materials for an answer. Interpretation first appears in the culture of late classical antiquity, when the power and credibility of myth had been broken by the “realistic” view of the world introduced by scientific enlightenment. Once the question that haunts post-mythic consciousness - that of the seemliness of religious symbols - had been asked, the ancient texts were, in their pristine form, no longer acceptable. Then interpretation was summoned, to reconcile the ancient texts to “modern” demands. Thus, the Stoics, to accord with their view that the gods had to be moral, allegorized away the rude features of Zeus and his boisterous clan in Homer’s epics. What Homer really designated by the adultery of Zeus with Leto, they explained, was the union between power and wisdom. In the same vein, Philo of Alexandria interpreted the literal historical narratives of the Hebrew Bible as spiritual paradigms. The story of the exodus from Egypt, the wandering in the desert for forty years, and the entry into the promised land, said Philo, was really an allegory of the individual soul’s emancipation, tribulations, and final deliverance. Interpretation thus presupposes a discrepancy between the clear meaning of the text and the demands of (later) readers. It seeks to resolve that discrepancy. The situation is that for some reason a text has become unacceptable; yet it cannot be discarded. Interpretation is a radical strategy for conserving an old text, which is thought too precious to repudiate, by revamping it. The interpreter, without actually erasing or rewriting the text, is altering it. But he can’t admit to doing this. He claims to be only making it intelligible, by disclosing its true meaning. However far the interpreters alter the text (another notorious example is the Rabbinic and Christian “spiritual” interpretations of the clearly erotic Song of Songs), they must claim to be reading off a sense that is already there.

Interpretation in our own time, however, is even more complex. For the contemporary zeal for the project of interpretation is often prompted not by piety toward the troublesome text (which may conceal an aggression), but by an open aggressiveness, an overt contempt for appearances. The old style of interpretation was insistent, but respectful; it erected another meaning on top of the literal one. The modern style of interpretation excavates, and as it excavates, destroys; it digs “behind” the text, to find a sub-text which is the true one. The most celebrated and influential modern doctrines, those of Marx and Freud, actually amount to elaborate systems of hermeneutics, aggressive and impious theories of interpretation. All observable phenomena are bracketed, in Freud’s phrase, as manifest content. This manifest content must be probed and pushed aside to find the true meaning - the latent content - beneath. For Marx, social events like revolutions and wars; for Freud, the events of individual lives (like neurotic symptoms and slips of the tongue) as well as texts (like a dream or a work of art) - all are treated as occasions for interpretation. According to Marx and Freud, these events only seem to be intelligible. Actually, they have no meaning without interpretation. To understand is to interpret. And to interpret is to restate the phenomenon, in effect to find an equivalent for it.

Thus, interpretation is not (as most people assume) an absolute value, a gesture of mind situated in some timeless realm of capabilities. Interpretation must itself be evaluated, within a historical view of human consciousness. In some cultural contexts, interpretation is a liberating act. It is a means of revising, of transvaluing, of escaping the dead past. In other cultural contexts, it is reactionary, impertinent, cowardly, stifling.

4

Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling. Like the fumes of the automobile and of heavy industry which befoul the urban atmosphere, the effusion of interpretations of art today poisons our sensibilities. In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.

Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings.” It is to turn … [more]
art  interpretation  philosophy  theory  essays  susansontag  plato  artistotle  film  representation  innocence  nietzsche  proust  kafka  tennesseewilliams  jean-lucgodard  rolandbarthes  erwinpanofsky  northropfrye  walterbenjamin  yasujirōozu  robertbresson  culture  thought  senses  oscarwilde  willemdekooning  content  appearances  aesthetics  invisibile  myth  antiquity  karlmarx  freud  jamesjoyce  rainermariarilke  andrégide  dhlawrence  jeancocteau  alainresnais  alainrobbe-grillet  ingmarbergman  ezrapund  tseliot  dgriffith  françoistruffaut  michelangeloantonioni  ermannoolmi  criticism  pierrefrancastel  mannyfarber  dorothyvanghent  rndalljarrell  waltwhitman  williamfaulkner 
july 2016 by robertogreco
There’s no emotion we ought to think harder about than anger | Aeon Essays
"Anger is the emotion that has come to saturate our politics and culture. Philosophy can help us out of this dark vortex"



"So, to put my radical claim succinctly: when anger makes sense (because focused on status), its retaliatory tendency is normatively problematic, because a single-minded focus on status impedes the pursuit of intrinsic goods. When it is normatively reasonable (because focused on the important human goods that have been damaged), its retaliatory tendency doesn’t make sense, and it is problematic for that reason. Let’s call this change of focus the Transition. We need the Transition badly in our personal and our political lives, dominated as they all too frequently are by payback and status-focus.

Sometimes a person may have an emotion that embodies the Transition already. Its entire content is: ‘How outrageous! This should not happen again.’ We may call this emotion Transition-Anger, and that emotion does not have the problems of garden-variety anger. But most people begin with everyday anger: they really do want the offender to suffer. So the Transition requires moral, and often political, effort. It requires forward-looking rationality, and a spirit of generosity and cooperation."

he struggle against anger often requires lonely self-examination. Whether the anger in question is personal, or work-related, or political, it requires exacting effort against one’s own habits and prevalent cultural forces. Many great leaders have understood this struggle, but none more deeply than Nelson Mandela. He often said that he knew anger well, and that he had to struggle against the demand for payback in his own personality. He reported that during his 27 years of imprisonment he had to practise a disciplined type of meditation to keep his personality moving forward and avoiding the anger trap. It now seems clear that the prisoners on Robben Island had smuggled in a copy of Meditations by the Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius, to give them a model of patient effort against the corrosions of anger.

But Mandela was determined to win the struggle. He wanted a successful nation, even then, and he knew that there could be no successful nation when two groups were held apart by suspicion, resentment, and the desire to make the other side pay for the wrongs they had done. Even though those wrongs were terrible, cooperation was necessary for nationhood. So he did things, in that foul prison, that his fellow prisoners thought perverse. He learned Afrikaans. He studied the culture and thinking of the oppressors. He practised cooperation by forming friendships with his jailers. Generosity and friendliness were not justified by past deeds; but they were necessary for future progress.

Mandela used to tell people a little parable. Imagine that the sun and the wind are contending to see who can get a traveller to take off his blanket. The wind blows hard, aggressively. But the traveller only pulls the blanket tighter around him. Then the sun starts to shine, first gently, and then more intensely. The traveller relaxes his blanket, and eventually he takes it off. So that, he said, is how a leader has to operate: forget about the strike-back mentality, and forge a future of warmth and partnership.

Mandela was realistic. One would never have found him proposing, as did Gandhi, to convert Hitler by charm. And of course he had been willing to use violence strategically, when non-violence failed. Non-anger does not entail non-violence (although Gandhi thought it did). But he understood nationhood and the spirit that a new nation requires. Still, behind the strategic resort to violence was always a view of people that was Transitional, focused not on payback but on the creation of a shared future in the wake of outrageous and terrible deeds.

Again and again, as the African National Congress (ANC) began to win the struggle, its members wanted payback. Of course they did, since they had suffered egregious wrongs. Mandela would have none of it. When the ANC voted to replace the old Afrikaner national anthem with the anthem of the freedom movement, he persuaded them to adopt, instead, the anthem that is now official, which includes the freedom anthem (using three African languages), a verse of the Afrikaner hymn, and a concluding section in English. When the ANC wanted to decertify the rugby team as a national team, correctly understanding the sport’s long connection to racism, Mandela, famously, went in the other direction, backing the rugby team to a World Cup victory and, through friendship, getting the white players to teach the sport to young black children. To the charge that he was too willing to see the good in people, he responded: ‘Your duty is to work with human beings as human beings, not because you think they are angels.’

And Mandela rejected not only the false lure of payback, but also the poison of status-obsession. He never saw himself as above menial tasks, and he never used status to humiliate. Just before his release, in a halfway house where he was still officially a prisoner, but had one of the warders as his own private cook, he had a fascinating discussion with this warder about a very mundane matter: how the dishes would get done.
I took it upon myself to break the tension and a possible resentment on his part that he has to serve a prisoner by cooking and then washing dishes, and I offered to wash dishes and he refused … He says that this is his work. I said, ‘No, we must share it.’ Although he insisted, and he was genuine, but I forced him, literally forced him, to allow me to do the dishes, and we established a very good relationship … A really nice chap, Warder Swart, a very good friend of mine.

It would have been so easy to see the situation as one of status-inversion: the once-dominating Afrikaner is doing dishes for the once-despised ANC leader. It would also have been so easy to see it in terms of payback: the warder is getting a humiliation he deserves because of his complicity in oppression. Significantly, Mandela doesn’t go down either of these doomed paths, even briefly. He asks only, how shall I produce cooperation and friendship?

Mandela’s project was political; but it has implications for many parts of our lives: for friendship, marriage, child-rearing, being a good colleague, driving a car. And of course it also has implications for the way we think about what political success involves and what a successful nation is like. Whenever we are faced with pressing moral or political decisions, we should clear our heads, and spend some time conducting what Mandela (citing Marcus Aurelius) referred to as ‘Conversations with Myself’. When we do, I predict, the arguments proposed by anger will be clearly seen to be pathetic and weak, while the voice of generosity and forward-looking reason will be strong as well as beautiful."
marthanussbaum  anger  emotions  philosophy  nelsonmandela  2016  payback  revenge  social  hierarchy  cooperation  friendship  sharing  generosity  friendliness  retaliation  status  aristotle  marcusaurelius  gandhi  humanism  reconciliation 
july 2016 by robertogreco
ROAR Magazine: Bookchin: living legacy of an American revolutionary
"A selection of articles, interviews and reviews from ROAR’s archives to honor and celebrate Bookchin’s long life, important work and great achievements.

The American revolutionary theorist Murray Bookchin passed away on July 30, 2006. Interest in his work and life has been revived in recent years, thanks in part to the Kurdish freedom movement in Turkey and Syria, which has begun to put his ideas about “a rational, ecological libertarian communist society, based on humane and cooperative social relations” into practice.

Long before the more recent upsurge of interest in his work, Bookchin’s writings, which go back all the way to the 1950s, influenced many on the left. Spending his life in revolutionary circles, Bookchin joined a communist youth organization at the age of nine and became a Trotskyist in his late thirties, before switching to anarchism and finally calling himself a ‘communalist’ after developing the theory of social ecology and libertarian municipalism.

To celebrate Bookchin’s long life and to honor his important work, we share a selection of the articles, interviews and reviews that ROAR has published over the years, highlighting the extraordinary intellectual achievements of this great radical thinker.

BOOKCHIN’S REVOLUTIONARY PROGRAM — JANET BIEHL
For Bookchin, the city was the new revolutionary arena, as it had been in the past; the twentieth-century left, blinded by its engagement with the proletariat and the factory, had overlooked this fact. Historically, revolutionary activity in Paris, St. Petersburg, and Barcelona had been based at least as much in the urban neighborhood as in the workplace. During the Spanish Revolution of 1936-37, the anarchist Friends of Durruti had insisted that “the municipality is the authentic revolutionary government.”

Today, Bookchin argued, urban neighborhoods hold memories of ancient civic freedoms and of struggles waged by the oppressed; by reviving those memories and building on those freedoms, he argued, we could resuscitate the local political realm, the civic sphere, as the arena for self-conscious political self-management.

Continue reading… [https://roarmag.org/magazine/biehl-bookchins-revolutionary-program/ ]

BOOKCHIN: LIVING LEGACY OF AN AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY — DEBBIE BOOKCHIN
One of Murray’s central contributions to Left thought was his insistence, back in the early 1960s, that all ecological problems are social problems. Social ecology starts from this premise: that we will never properly address climate change, the poisoning of the earth with pesticides and the myriad of other ecological problems that are increasingly undermining the ecological stability of the planet, until we address underlying issues of domination and hierarchy. This includes domination based on gender, ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation, as well as class distinctions.

Eradicating those forms of oppression immediately raises the question of how to organize society in a fashion that maximizes freedom. So the ideas about popular assemblies presented in this book grow naturally out of the philosophy of social ecology. They address the question of how to advance revolutionary change that will achieve true freedom for individuals while still allowing for the social organization necessary to live harmoniously with each other and the natural world.

Continue reading… [https://roarmag.org/essays/bookchin-interview-social-ecology/ ]

MURRAY BOOKCHIN AND THE KURDISH RESISTANCE — JORIS LEVERINK
Over the past decade, democratic confederalism has slowly but surely become an integral part of Kurdish society. Three elements of Bookchin’s thought have particularly influenced the development of a “democratic modernity” across Kurdistan: the concept of “dual power,” the confederal structure as proposed by Bookchin under the header of libertarian municipalism, and the theory of social ecology which traces the roots of many contemporary struggles back to the origins of civilization and places the natural environment at the heart of the solution to these problems.

Continue reading… [https://roarmag.org/essays/bookchin-kurdish-struggle-ocalan-rojava/ ]

LEARNING FROM THE LIFE OF MURRAY BOOKCHIN — EIRIK EIGLAD
Janet Biehl treats complex ideas with remarkable ease, and the footnotes reveal careful research into the many movements, figures, and events that were significant to his political life.

Biehl extensively researched personal and public archives, and conducted long interviews with old colleagues. Her account is balanced, yet engaging. And it is never “objective.” Indeed, toward the end of the book, Biehl necessarily enters the book, and becomes part of the story. Yet, her account is in no way “self-aggrandizing”—indeed, much of it is not even flattering—but I think overall she provides a fair account of the personal doubts, frailties, and tensions that often accompany an intense political life.

Continue reading… [https://roarmag.org/essays/ecology-or-catastrophe-biehl-bookchin-review/ ]"
2016  murraybookchin  janetbiehl  anarchism  politics  philosophy  urbanism  cities  debbiebookchin  ecology  climatechange  freedom  socialecology  society  jorisleverin  kurds  confederalism  democracy  municipalism  libertarianism  history  environment  sustainability  capitalism  economics  eirikeiglad  gender  ethnicity  race  class  pollution  agriculture  earth  hierarchy  friendsofdurruti  spanishrevolution  stpetersburg  paris  barcelona  revolution  communalism  libertarianmunicipalism 
july 2016 by robertogreco
A Philosophy of Voting and Revolutions | tressiemc
"There is a meme floating around. I won’t share an image of it. Somewhere along the way, I pieced together too many followers to casually link to people’s memes and social media content. I don’t want it to seem like I’m refuting any single person so much as an idea floating out there in the ether.

The meme cites James Baldwin and/or W.E.B. DuBois on why the negro should not vote.

I respect both philosophers a great deal. I teach DuBois as the start of modern sociology. I think my respect is well-documentated.

However, there is another political philosophy about the African American vote that I find interesting. I will call it the Bash Mister’s Head Open And Think About Heaven Later philosophy.

______________

If you don’t recognize the reference there is an excellent chance that you are not a black American of a certain age. It is from The Color Purple:

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnSbUuCEvrQ ]

I have tried for a long time to articulate how I understand black southern working class women’s philosophy in the U.S.

Many smart people are doing this work formally. You should read Anita Allen, Paula Giddings, Tina Botts, and Brittney Cooper to get started.

I am thinking about philosophy more like a sociologist might: philosophy of knowledge and the political economy of knowledge production. And, I am thinking about philosophy more like a black southern Gen-Xer raised in Black Panther Party politics but also in the NAACP respectability machine might think about it. That is, it is complicated.

That’s the gist of my argument about Hillary Clinton’s campaign in “False Choice: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton” A recent book review called the feminists in that volume, including me, as peripheral to mainstream feminism. I was like, you ain’t never lied but also thank you.

Being on the periphery is exactly what black women like me have always been. Our philosophy reflects that.

_______________

Bash Mister’s Head Open And Think About Heaven Later philosophy reflects the peripheral knowledge production that black women have done as they fight in their house: with Mister, with Mister’s oppressors, and with political machinations that ignore both.

In that space where our fight has been systematically and deliberately erased, it is useful to think about DuBois and Baldwin’s arguments against voting as a powerful statements of resistance. And they are. But they are not absolutely statements about how black working class (who have been historically situated in the U.S. south physically or ideologically) women have to fight in a political regime.

Miss Sophia offers a way to understood black suffragists like Ida B. Wells. Wells, who knew as much about state sanctioned white rage and violence as anyone, still organized for black women’s franchise.

Later, black women socialists wrote the philosophy of revolution but also, some of them quietly, organizing the vote.

These philosophers of action and rhetoric seemed capable of both incrementalism and revolution, something we’re told are incompatible. The result was revolution of a sort. It was revolutionary for blacks to force one of the mightiest nations in history to prosecute whites for hanging blacks, for example. And, it was also incremental in that state violence clearly continues to target black people. But to say the revolution is incomplete isn’t the same as saying revolutions don’t happen. They simply may not happen the way we dream of them.

Philosophical rhetoric is important but black women philosophers have argued and lived the truth that it is not the only thing that is important.

______

Here’s where I am: I try to vote the interests of poor black women and girls. I do that because, as a winner in this crap knowledge economy, the election outcome won’t much affect my life no matter who wins or loses. But poor black women and girls don’t have a lobby. So, I supported Bernie Sanders because, despite his (non)rhetoric on race, I truly believed that an anti-poverty policy would represent poor black women and girls’ political interests. Truly. I still believe that.

I don’t care if Bernie didn’t ever learn the words to Lift E’ry Voice and Sing. I thought that with a Democratic party machine behind him to hopefully elect locals and state officers plus a federal agency to legitimize an anti-poverty and jobs program, maybe we could get some long overdue economic and political investment in poor black women and girls. Now I will vote for Hillary for the same reason, even as I know that being oppressed in the U.S. still makes us all complicit in the U.S.’ global oppression of other poor people, brown people and women.

However I am crystal clear on this: my not voting or voting Trump doesn’t change global geo-politics. By definition, a “vote” can never do those things as voting is defined by nation-states and the military power to enforce their boundaries and, ergo, legitimize voting as a state project. That’s why I can’t ONLY vote but vote and donate; vote and organize; vote and philosophize a resistance. Petty feels good, god knows it does. But so do applied philosophies like Planned Parenthoods.

I want to bash mista’s head in with Planned Parenthoods for poor black women and girls now while I think about heaven (and revolution) later."
tressiemcmillancottom  2016  voting  elections  alicewalker  thecolorpurple  berniesanders  hillaryclinton  rhetoric  politics  democrats  anitaallen  paulagiddings  tinabotts  birttneycooper  webdubois  jamesbaldwin  sociology  philosophy  knowledgeproduction  knowledge  feminism  oppression  idabwells  revolution  incrementalism  change  changemaking  democracy 
july 2016 by robertogreco
LITERATURE - Fyodor Dostoyevsky - YouTube
"The Russian 19th century novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky deserves our attention for the austerity and pessimism of his vision – from which we can nevertheless gain enlightenment and hope."
dostoyevsky  existentialism  humility  philosophy  enlightenment  hope  suffering  humans 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The World Beyond Kant's Head - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"Crawford does some of both, but in many respects the chief argument of his book is based on a major causal assumption: that much of what’s wrong with our culture, and with our models of selfhood, arises from the success of certain of Kant’s ideas. I say “assumption” because I don’t think that Crawford ever actually argues the point, and I think he doesn’t argue the point because he doesn’t clearly distinguish between illumination and causation. That is, if I’ve read him rightly, he shows that a study of Kant makes sense of many contemporary phenomena and implicitly concludes that Kant’s ideas therefore are likely to have played a causal role in the rise of those phenomena.

I just don’t buy it, any more than I buy the structurally identical claim that modern individualism and atomization all derive from the late-medieval nominalists. I don’t buy those claims because I have never seen any evidence for them. I am not saying that those claims are wrong, I just want to know how it happens: how you get from extremely complex and arcane philosophical texts that only a handful of people in history have ever been able to read to world-shaping power. I don’t see how it’s even possible.

One of Auden’s most famous lines is: “Poetry makes nothing happen.” He was repeatedly insistent on this point. In several articles and interviews he commented that the social and political history of Europe would be precisely the same if Dante, Shakespeare, and Mozart had never lived. I suspect that this is true, and that it’s also true of philosophy. I think that we would have the techno-capitalist society we have if Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, Immanuel Kant, and G.F.W. Hegel had never lived. If you disagree with me, please show me the path which those philosophical ideas followed to become so world-shapingly dominant. I am not too old to learn."
philosophy  correlation  causation  history  kant  alanjacobs  2016  matthewcrawford  illumination  hegel  whauden  via:lukeneff  individualism  atomization  dunsscotus  williamofockham 
july 2016 by robertogreco
What Is an "Existential Crisis”?: An Animated Video Explains What the Expression Really Means | Open Culture
[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEzMwNBjkAU ]

"“Who am I?” many of us have wondered at some point in our lives, “What am I? Where am I?”… maybe even—while gazing in bewilderment at the pale blue dot and listening to the Talking Heads—“How did I get here?”

That feeling of unsettling and profound confusion, when it seems like the hard floor of certainty has turned into a black abyss of endless oblivion…. Thanks to modern philosophy, it has a handy name: an existential crisis. It’s a name, says Alain de Botton in his School of Life video above, that “touches on one of the major traditions of European philosophy,” a tradition “associated with ideas of five philosophers in particular: Kierkegaard, Camus, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre.”

What do these five have in common? The question is complicated, and we can’t really point to a “tradition.” As the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy notes, Existentialism is a “catch-all term” for a few continental philosophers from the 19th and 20th centuries, some of whom had little or no association with each other. Also, “most of the philosophers conventionally grouped under this heading either never used, or actively disavowed the term ‘existentialist.’” Camus, according to Richard Raskin, thought of Existentialism as a “form of philosophical suicide” and a “destructive mode of thought.” Even Sartre, who can be most closely identified with it, once said “Existentialism? I don’t know what it is.”

But labels aside, we can identify many common characteristics of the five thinkers de Botton names that apply to our paralyzing experiences of supreme doubt. The video identifies five such broad commonalities of the “existential crisis”:

1. “It’s a period when a lot that had previously seemed like common sense or normal reveals its contingent, chance, uncanny, and relative nature…. We are freer than we thought.”

2. We recognize we’d been deluding ourselves about what had to be…. We come to a disturbing awareness that our ultimate responsibility is to ourselves, not the social world.”

3. “We develop a heightened awareness of death. Time is short and running out. We need to re-examine our lives, but the clock is ticking.”

4. “We have many choices, but are, by the nature of the human condition, denied the information we would need to choose with ultimate wisdom or certainty. We are forced to decide, but can never be assured that we’ve done so adequately. We are steering blind.”

5. This means that anxiety is a “basic feature” of all human existence.

All of this, de Botton admits, can “seem perilous and dispiriting,” and yet can also ennoble us when we consider that the private agonies we think belong to us alone are “fundamental features of the human condition.” We can dispense with the trivializing idea, propagated by advertisers and self-help gurus, that “intelligent choice might be possible and untragic… that perfection is within reach.” Yet de Botton himself presents Existentialist thought as a kind of self-help program, one that helps us with regret, since we realize that everyone bears the burdens of choice, mortality, and contingency, not just us.

However, in most so-called Existentialist philosophers, we also discover another pressing problem. Once we become untethered from pleasing fictions of pre-existing realities, “worlds-behind-the-scene,” as Nietzsche put it, or “being-behind-the-appearance,” in Sartre’s words, we no longer see a benevolent hand arranging things neatly, nor have absolute order, meaning, or purpose to appeal to.

We must confront that fact that we, and no one else, bear responsibility for our choices, even though we make them blindly. It’s not a comforting thought, hence the “crisis.” But many of us resolve these moments of shock with varying degrees of wisdom and experience. As we know from another great thinker, Eleanor Roosevelt, who was not an Existentialist philosopher, “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being…. For the person who is unwilling to grow up… this is a frightening prospect.”"
existentialcrises  existentialism  philosophy  video  2016  kierkegaard  camus  nietzsche  heidegger  sartre  jean-paulsartre  albertcamus  humancondition  alaindebotton 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Imperial Designs | The Unforgiving Minute
[via: https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/667000828113260544 ]

"[image]

Here’s an example: the Chand Baori Stepwell in Rajasthan, built in the 8th and 9th centuries. (You can watch a video about Chand Baori, and another about stepwells, based on an article by journalist Victoria Lautman.) Stepwells were a critical part of water management, particularly in western India and other dry areas of Asia, the earliest known stepwell forms date from around 600AD. The Mughal empire encouraged stepwell construction, but the administrators British empire decided that stepwells should be replaced with pumped and piped water systems modelled on those developed in the UK – a ‘superior’ system. It was of course also a system that moved from a communal and social model of water management to a centralised model of water management – and the British loved centralised management, because it’s easier to control.

[image]

Here’s another model of water management – the Playpump, which received a lot of media attention and donor support after it was proposed in 2005. The basic idea was that kids playing on the big roundabout would pump water up from the well for the whole village. This doesn’t seem very imperial at first sight: it looks like these kids are having fun, and the village is getting water. Unfortunately it was a massive failure because it flat out didn’t work, although the Playpumps organisation is still around; if you want to know more about that failure, read this article in the Guardian and this lessons learned from the Case Foundation, and listen to this Frontline radio show on PBS. TL;DR: the Playpump didn’t work because it was designed by outsiders who didn’t understand the communities: a classic case of design imperialism. There are lots of examples just like this, where the failure is easy to see but the imperialism is more difficult to spot.

About 5 years ago there was a big hoo-hah about an article called “Is Humanitarian Design the New Imperialism?” by Bruce Nussbaum. Nussbaum accused people and organisations working on design that would alleviate poverty as yet another imperial effort. This depends on defining “empire” as a power relationship – an unequal power relationship, where the centre holds the power (and resources) and the periphery will benefit from those resources only when the centre decides to give it to them. At the time, there was a lot of discussion around this idea, but that discussion has died now. That’s not because it’s no longer an issue: it’s because a new imperial model, more subtle than Nussbaum’s idea, has successfully taken root, and few people in the design world even realise it."



"Q&A:

During the talk I mentioned that I was planning to show video of robot dogs, but I didn’t because they freak me out. They don’t really freak me out – I think they’re astonishing feats of technology – but what they say about our attitudes towards warfare worries me. They’re being built by Boston Dynamics, who started out under military contracts from DARPA, have recently been acquired by Google X, and who post a ton of promo videos. Particularly funny is this supercut video of robots falling over.

One question raised the issue of whether our education system enables people to recognise the trap that they might be in, and give them the tools to make their own way. The short answer is no. The industrial model of education is not equipped for the 21st century, although I remain hopeful that the internet will also disrupt education as it has other sectors. At the same time I am sceptical of the impact of the most-hyped projects (such as the Khan Academy and the wide range of MOOCs) – it seems to me that we need something that learns from a wider range of educational approaches.

We also discussed whether there is an underlying philosophy to the invisible empire of the internet. I believe that there is, although it isn’t necessarily made explicit. One early artefact of this philosophy is A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace; one early analysis of aspects of it is The Californian Ideology. Evgeny Morozov is interesting on this topic, but with a pinch of salt, since in a relatively short time he has gone from incisive commentator to intellectual troll. It’s interesting that a few Silicon Valley big beasts are trained in philosophy, although to be honest this training doesn’t seem to be reflected in their actual philosophy."

[See also: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/nov/24/africa-charity-water-pumps-roundabouts
via: https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/667031543416623105 ]
designimperialism  design  via:tealtan  humanitariandesign  2015  africa  paulcurrion  control  colonialism  technology  technosolutionism  evgenymorozov  siliconvalley  philosophy  politics  mooc  moocs  doublebind  education  bostondynamics  googlex  darpa  robots  yuvalnoahharari  californianideology  wikihouse  globalconstructionset  3dprinting  disobedientobjects  anarchism  anarchy  legibility  internet  online  web  nezaralsayyad  smarthphones  mobile  phones  benedictevans  migration  refugees  fiveeyes  playpumps  water  chandbaori  trevorpaglen 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Alterity - Wikipedia
"Alterity is a philosophical and anthropological term meaning "otherness", strictly being in the sense of the other of two (Latin alter). It is also increasingly being used in media to express something other than the sameness of the imitative.

In philosophy, the phenomenological tradition it is usually understood as the entity in contrast to which an identity is constructed, and it implies the ability to distinguish between self and not-self, and consequently to assume the existence of an alternative viewpoint. The concept was further developed by Emmanuel Lévinas in a series of essays, collected in Altérité et transcendence (Alterity and Transcendence) (1995).

In anthropology, alterity has been used by scholars such as Nicholas Dirks, Johannes Fabian, Michael Taussig and Pauline Turner Strong to refer to the construction of "cultural others". An insightful example of this is Gayatri Chakravorti Spivak's quote under Analysis below.

The term has gained further use in seemingly somewhat remote disciplines, e.g. historical musicology where it is employed by John Michael Cooper in a study of Goethe and Mendelssohn.[citation needed]

Alterity is a process that has taken place actively throughout time, as charted through generations of history. The effects of alterity can be tracked through a variety of forms of behavioral modes and interventions, both consensual and non consensual. Furthermore, behaviors that induce otherness are both conscious and unconscious."
via:steelemaley  alterity  otherness  anthropology  philosophy  phenomenology  self  emmanuellévinas  nicholasdirks  johannesfabian  michaeltaussig  paulineturnerstrong  johnmichaelcooper 
november 2015 by robertogreco
SF: Science Fiction, Speculative Fabulation, String Figures, So Far - Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology
"The British social anthropologist Marilyn Strathern, who wrote The Gender of the Gift based on her ethnographic work in highland Papua New Guinea (Mt. Hagen), taught me that “It matters what ideas we use to think other ideas (with)” (Reproducing the Future 10). Marilyn embodies for me the practice of feminist speculative fabulation in the scholarly mode. It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots, what thoughts think thoughts, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories. Marilyn wrote about accepting the risk of relentless contingency; she thinks about anthropology as the knowledge practice that studies relations with relations, that puts relations at risk with other relations, from unexpected other worlds. In 1933 Alfred North Whitehead, the American mathematician and process philosopher who infuses my sense of worlding, wrote The Adventures of Ideas. SF is precisely full of such adventures. Isabelle Stengers, a chemist, scholar of Whitehead, and a seriously quirky Belgian feminist philosopher, gives me “speculative thinking” in spades. Isabelle insists we cannot denounce the world in the name of an ideal world. In the spirit of feminist communitarian anarchism and the idiom of Whitehead’s philosophy, she maintains that decisions must take place somehow in the presence of those who will bear their consequences.[2] In this same virtual sibling set, Marleen Barr morphed Heinlein’s speculative fiction into feminist fabulation for me. In relay and return, SF morphs in my writing and research into speculative fabulation and string figures. Relays, cat’s cradle, passing patterns back and forth, giving and receiving, patterning, holding the unasked-for pattern in one’s hands, response-ability, Octavia Butler’s Patternmaster series. My debts mount. Again and again, SF has given me the ideas, the stories, and the shapes with which I think ideas, shapes, and stories in feminist theory and science studies. There is no way I can name all of my debts to SF’s critters and worlds, human and not, and so I will record only a few and hope for a credit extension for years yet to come. I will enter these debts in a short ledger of my teaching and publishing. I start with Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, a typescript of my curriculum vitae that was part of a file for consideration for promotion in the History of Science Department at Johns Hopkins in 1979-80, and a bottle of chalky white out. I had written an essay review of Woman on the Edge of Time for the activist publication, Women, a Journal of Liberation and duly recorded this little publication on the CV. “The past is the contested zone”—the past that is our thick, not-yet-fixed, present, wherewhen what is yet-to-come is now at stake—is the meme that drew me into Piercy’s story, and I was proud of the review. A senior colleague in History of Science, a supporter of my promotion, came to me with a too-friendly smile and that betraying bottle of white-out, asking me to blot out this publication from the scholarly record, “for my own good.”[3] He also wanted me to expunge “Signs of Dominance,” a long, research-dense essay about the semiotics and sociograms developed in mid-20th-century primate field studies of monkeys and apes.[4] To my shame to this day, I obeyed; to my relief to this day, no one was fooled. Piercy’s temporalities and my growing sense of the SF-structure of primate field work made me write two essays for the brave, new, hyper-footnoted, University of Chicago feminist theory publication, Signs, and to title the essays in recognition of Piercy’s priority and patterned relay to me.[5] I could not forget—or disavow—Piercy’s research for Woman on the Edge of Time, which led her to psychiatrist José Delgado’s Rockland State Hospital experiments with remote-controlled telemetric implants, and my finding in my own archival research Delgado’s National Institutes of Mental Health-funded work applied to gibbon studies in the ape colony on Hall’s Island. The colonial and imperial roots & routes of SF are relentlessly real and inescapably fabulated. Later, living (non-optionally, in really real SF histories) with and as cyborgs, Piercy and I played cat’s cradle again, this time with my “Cyborg Manifesto” and then her He, She, and It. Cyborgs were never just about the interdigitations of humans and information machines; cyborgs were from the get-go the materialization of imploded (not hybridized) human beings-information machines-multispecies organisms. Cyborgs were always simultaneously relentlessly real and inescapably fabulated. Like all good SF, they redid what counts as—what is—real. The obligatory multispecies story-telling script was written in 1960 United States space research, when Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline coined the word “cyborg” in an article about their implanted rats and the advantages of self-regulating human-machine systems in outer space."
speculativefiction  scifi  sciencefiction  donnaharaway  toread  speculativefabrication  isabellestrengers  alfrednorthwhitehead  knowledge  ideas  philosophy  anarchism  marilynstrathern  octaviabutler  manfredclynes  nathankline  cyborgs  joannaruss  samueldelany  evahayward  katieking  gregorybateson  historyofconsciousness  hiscon  herscam  jamestiptree  suzettehadenelgin  linguists  linguistics  johnvarley  fredjameson  suzymckeecharnass  ursulaleguin  worlding  cat'scradle  anthropology  ethnography  gwynethjones  heidegger  kant  multispecies  sheritepper  laurenoyaolamina  helenmerrick  margaretgrebowicz  dogs  animals  marleenbarr  marilynhacker  sarahlefanu  pamelasargent  viviansobchack  margaretatwood  vondamcintyre  ericrabkin  laurachernaik  sherrylvint  joshualebare  istvancsicsery-ronay  shulamithfirestone  judithmerril  franbartkowsky  2013 
october 2015 by robertogreco
What Art Unveils - The New York Times
"I think a lot about art. As a philosopher working on perception and consciousness, and as a teacher and writer, maybe more than most. It’s part of my work, but it is a pleasure, too. The task of getting a better sense of what art is — how it works, why it matters to us and what it can tell us about ourselves — is one of the greatest that we face, and it is also endlessly rewarding. But at times it also seems just endless, because art itself can be so hard to grasp. And so is the question of how to approach it. Is there a way of thinking about art that will get us closer to an understanding of its essential nature, and our own?

These days, as I’ve discussed here before, the trend is to try to answer these questions in the key of neuroscience. I recommend a different approach, but not because I don’t think it is crucial to explore the links between art and our biological nature. The problem is that neuroscience has yet to frame an adequate conception of our nature. You look in vain in the writings of neuroscientists for satisfying accounts of experience or consciousness. For this reason, I believe, we can’t use neuroscience to explain art and its place in our lives. Indeed, if I am right, the order of explanation may go in the other direction: Art can help us frame a better picture of our human nature.

This may be one of the sources of art’s abiding value. Art is a way of learning about ourselves. Works of art are tools, but they have been made strange, and that is the source of their power.

I begin with two commonplaces. First, artists make stuff. Pictures, sculptures, performances, songs; art has always been bound up with manufacture and craft, with tinkering and artifice. Second, and I think this is equally uncontroversial, the measure of art, the source of its value, is rarely how well it is made, or how effective it is in fulfilling this or that function. In contrast with mere technology, art doesn’t have to work to be good.

I don’t deny that artists sometimes make stuff that does work. For example, Leonardo’s portrait of Duke Ludovico’s teenage mistress, “The Lady With an Ermine,” works in the sense that it, well, it shows her. The same could be said of a photograph on a shopping website: it shows the jacket and lets you decide whether to order it. I only mean that the value of the artwork never boils down to this kind of application.

Why do artists make stuff if the familiar criteria of success or failure in the domain of manufacture are not dispositive when it comes to art? Why are artists so bent on making stuff? To what end?

My hypothesis is that artists make stuff not because the stuff they make is special in itself, but because making stuff is special for us. Making activities — technology, for short — constitute us as a species. Artists make stuff because in doing so they reveal something deep and important about our nature, indeed, I would go so far as to say, about our biological nature.

One of the reasons I’m skeptical of the neuroscientific approach is that it is too individualist, and too concerned alone with what goes on in the head, to comprehend the way social activities of making and doing contribute in this way to making us.

Human beings, I propose, are designers by nature. We are makers and consumers of technologies. Knives, clothing, dwellings, but also language, pictures, email, commercial air travel and social media. Tools and technologies organize us; they do so individually — think of the way chairs and doorknobs mold your posture and the way you move; and they do so collectively — think of the way the telephone or email have changed how we communicate. Technologies solve problems, but they also let us frame new problems. For example, there would be no higher mathematics without mathematical notations. Tools like the rake extend our bodies; tools like writing extend our minds.

Technologies organize us, but they do so only insofar as they are embedded in our lives. This is a crucial idea. Take a doorknob, for example. A simple bit of technology, yes, but one that presupposes a vast and remarkable social background. Doorknobs exist in the context of a whole form of life, a whole biology — the existence of doors, and buildings, and passages, the human body, the hand, and so on. A designer of doorknobs makes a simple artifact but he or she does so with an eye to its mesh with this larger cognitive and anthropological framework.

When you walk up to a door, you don’t stop to inspect the doorknob; you just go right through. Doorknobs don’t puzzle us. They do not puzzle us just to the degree that we are able to take everything that they presuppose — the whole background practice — for granted. If that cultural practice were strange to us, if we didn’t understand the human body or the fact that human beings live in buildings, if we were aliens from another planet, doorknobs would seem very strange and very puzzling indeed.

This brings us to art. Design, the work of technology, stops, and art begins, when we are unable to take the background of our familiar technologies and activities for granted, and when we can no longer take for granted what is, in fact, a precondition of the very natural-seeming intelligibility of such things as doorknobs and pictures, words and sounds. When you and are I talking, I don’t pay attention to the noises you are making; your language is a transparency through which I encounter you. Design, at least when it is optimal, is transparent in just this way; it disappears from view and gets absorbed in application. You study the digital image of the shirt on the website, you don’t contemplate its image.

Art, in contrast, makes things strange. You do contemplate the image, when you examine Leonardo’s depiction of the lady with the ermine. You are likely, for example, to notice her jarringly oversized and masculine hand and to wonder why Leonardo draws our attention to that feature of this otherwise beautiful young person. Art disrupts plain looking and it does so on purpose. By doing so it discloses just what plain looking conceals.

Art unveils us ourselves. Art is a making activity because we are by nature and culture organized by making activities. A work of art is a strange tool. It is an alien implement that affords us the opportunity to bring into view everything that was hidden in the background.

If I am right, art isn’t a phenomenon to be explained. Not by neuroscience, and not by philosophy. Art is itself a research practice, a way of investigating the world and ourselves. Art displays us to ourselves, and in a way makes us anew, by disrupting our habitual activities of doing and making."
culture  art  design  learning  perception  glvo  making  humans  2015  alvanoë  philosophy  purpose  via:Taryn  neuroscience  research  investigation  howwelearn  transparency  technology  tools  probelmsolving  social 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Against Method - Wikipedia
"Against Method: Outline of an Anarchist Theory of Knowledge is a 1975 book about the philosophy of science by Paul Feyerabend, who argues that science is an anarchic, not a nomic (lawly), enterprise.[1] In the context of this work, the term anarchy refers to epistemological anarchy."



"Feyerabend divides his argument into an abstract critique followed by a number of historical case studies.[2]

The abstract critique is a reductio ad absurdum of methodological monism (the belief that a single methodology can produce scientific progress).[3] Feyerabend goes on to identify four features of methodological monism: the principle of falsification,[4] a demand for increased empirical content,[5] the forbidding of ad hoc hypotheses[6] and the consistency condition.[7] He then demonstrates that these features imply that science could not progress, hence an absurdity for proponents of the scientific method.

The historical case studies also act as a reductio.[8] Feyerabend takes the premise that Galileo's advancing of a heliocentric cosmology was an example of scientific progress. He then demonstrates that Galileo did not adhere to the conditions of methodological monism. Feyerabend also argues that, if Galileo had adhered to the conditions of methodological monism, then he could not have advanced a heliocentric cosmology. This implies that scientific progress would have been impaired by methodological monism. Again, an absurdity for proponents of the scientific method.[9]

Feyerabend summarises his reductios with the phrase "anything goes". This is his sarcastic imitation of "the terrified reaction of a rationalist who takes a closer look at history".[10]"
philosophy  science  method  scientificmethod  paulfeyerabend  anarchism  monism  falsification  hypotheses  adhoc  consistency  rationalism  via:tealtan  galileso  againstmethod  knowledge  1975  toread  books 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Grammar, Identity, and the Dark Side of the Subjunctive: Phuc Tran at TEDxDirigo - YouTube
"Phuc Tran is in his second decade as a Classicist and Tattooer. He has taught Latin, Greek, German, and Sanskrit at independent schools in New York and Maine and was an instructor at Brooklyn College's Summer Latin Institute. In 2010, he served on a committee to revise the National Latin Praxis exam for ETS. Phuc currently teaches at Waynflete School in Portland."
phuctran  language  english  subjunctive  refugees  2012  identity  indicative  reality  presence  future  imperative  perspective  immigration  immigrantexperience  grammar  depression  regret  creativity  imagination  experience  optimism  philosophy  via:juliarubin  french  vietnamese  france 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Avery Morrow on What do you think is the key to a ha...
"One of the most famous letters in Chinese history was sent by the historian Sima Qian to his friend Ren An. In this letter, Sima Qian bemoans his castration at the hands of an arbitrary emperor after he tried to speak out in defense of a good man. He proclaims that he will devote his life to completing his history, and speaks of the conviction that keeps people writing in devastating tone:
When Xibo, the Earl of the West, was imprisoned at Youli, he expanded the I Ching. Confucius was in distress when he made the Spring and Autumn Annals. Qu Yuan was banished and he composed his poem “Encountering Sorrow.” After Zuo Qiu lost his sight, he wrote the Conversations from the States. When Sun Tzu had his feet amputated in punishment, he set forth the Art of War. Lü Buwei was banished to Shu but his Spring and Autumn of Mr. Lü has been handed down through the ages. While Han Fei Zi was held prisoner in Qin he wrote “The Difficulties of Disputation” and “The Sorrow of Standing Alone.” Most of the three hundred poems of the Odes were written when the sages poured out their anger and dissatisfaction. All these men had a rankling in their hearts, for they were not able to accomplish what they wished. Those like Zuo Qiu, who was blind, or Sun Tzu, who had no feet, could never hold office, so they retired to compose books in order to set forth their thoughts and indignation, handing down their writings so they could show posterity who they were.

I too have ventured not to be modest but have entrusted myself to my useless writings. I have gathered up and brought together the old traditions of the world that were scattered and lost. I have examined events of the past and investigated the principles behind their success and failure, their rise and decay, in 130 chapters. I wished to examine into all that concerns heaven and humankind, to penetrate the changes of the past and present, putting forth my views as one school of interpretation. […] When I have truly completed this work, I will deposit it in the Famous Mountain archives. If it may be handed down to those who will appreciate it and penetrate to the villages and great cities, then though I should suffer a thousand mutilations, what regret would I have?

(Translated in Burton Watson, Records of the Grand Historian: Qin Dynasty, appendix 2)

This must stand alongside the world’s greatest critiques of writing. Writing, says Sima Qian, is just an elaborate way to tell the world about your indignation. Writing is a therapeutic behavior which you must resort to because you have been wronged or defeated. These are the bitter words of a man whose romantic belief in standing up for goodness and justice was viscerally mutilated by reality.

Sima Qian confides to Ren An that “such matters as these may be discussed with a wise man, but it is difficult to explain them to ordinary people.” The life of the mind is defined by knowing other people write from a state of discontent, not only with local injustices, but with the human condition itself. Those who have never known such deep discontent make poor conversation partners. Conversely, those who have come to peace with the human condition have no need to defend their views in public. This is the meaning of the Tao Te Ching’s verse, “Those who know, do not speak. Those who speak, do not know.”

In this sense, a philosopher, academic, or any kind of writer is the worst person to ask about how to live a fulfilling life. Their obligation to themselves is not to resolve their own problems, but to plumb the depths of their own discontent, seeking after a truth in unhappiness. It is not likely that anything that can be articulated in an intellectually honest essay can bestow a fulfilling life on you.

But in a terribly significant way, Sima Qian leaves out the other side of writing. He is convinced that if he writes something great, then posterity will read it. It turned out that his conviction was entirely right. But why was it necessary that his writing be great? Why does he need to go to the extent of examining everything that happened in the past and analyzing it? Why didn’t he just write a book about how the emperor castrated him and how he suffered? He must have seen something more important than himself in the history of his land.

In this letter, Sima Qian lets his bitterness shine through. But in his magisterial history, that bitterness is intertwined with a capacity for selecting, critiquing, and recording historical facts that ranks him among the greatest of all human civilization. Perhaps we can’t merely be told how to live a happy, fulfilling life with simple instructions. But reading can tell us about the dreams of centuries of men and women, and about what they did to realize them. In their dreams and their struggles, perhaps, we can see hints of transcendence, and find our own fulfillment."
writing  happiness  intellectuals  philosophy  simaquian  renan  wisdom  life  living  via:anne  transcendence  bitterness  fulfillment  thinking  unhappiness  taoteching  knowing 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Peter Worley on Should children do philosophy?, Aeon...
"There is a story told about Socrates that just before he drank the poisonous hemlock he had been sentenced to drink by the citizens of Athens, following a charge of teaching false gods and corrupting the young men of Athens, he heard someone playing a tune on a flute. Socrates said to the player, ‘Can you teach me that tune?’ His friends said, ‘What use will learning that tune be, you are about to die?’ Socrates said, ‘No use, it’s just a beautiful tune.’ So, my first argument is non-instrumental. Anyone, including children, should engage in philosophy for the same reason that they do music, because it is good to do, in and of itself.

Just this morning I saw some 7-year-olds grappling with the question of whether or not it is possible to do nothing, this led to someone saying that you can do nothing only if you are dead; someone else said, ‘but when you are dead you are doing something: you’re being dead.’ Others disagreed: ‘But, when you’re dead you’re not being dead, you just are dead.’ This led to a discussion about the difference between the two ideas. Later, they were trying to establish whether statues do anything. ‘If a statue falls,’ said one child, ‘then it’s falling, which is doing something’, ‘but,’ objected another, ‘the statue is only falling because someone has pushed it, the statue isn’t doing anything, it is having something done to it.’ Finally, someone said that statues are made of rocks, but rocks don’t do anything. Then, one girl said, ‘Rocks do do something; they’re being a rock.’ Like Spinoza’s conatus or Schopenhauer’s will to life this 7-year-old was understanding being as a positive, active force against nothingness or non-existence.

I did very little in this session, my job was to provide a catalyst (I set the task to do nothing!) then I asked some simple questions at salient points such as ‘So did X do nothing?’ (After one of the children had made an attempt) or ‘So, is it possible to do nothing?’ or later, ‘If something moves does that mean that it is doing something?’ What I do is provide the conditions for a group of children (or adults) to see philosophical problems for themselves and then to afford them the opportunity to explore those problems and how they might solve them together. I help them to follow the dialectical demands and implications of their own ideas and explorations.

Apart from the fact that witnessing this is like hearing a beautiful tune, many readers may want more reasons why doing philosophy is something children should do. Just this month, some very positive research came out showing the benefits of doing philosophy with children, but this research focused on the non-philosophical benefits such as reading and maths scores. I would like to add to these findings by making an a priori, reasoned argument, from problems the children encounter in their everyday lives, for why children should do philosophy.

If children encounter puzzles and problems that have a philosophical basis then children need a systematic way of approaching and tackling them. Puzzles and problems that have a philosophical basis are those where a tension or conflict arises between the concepts we have and our experience of the world. For instance, a child may have a conceptual intuition that time is constant, but then experience time seeming to fluctuate (‘Time flies when you’re having fun!’) Another example might be: ‘I am always the same person, but I change physically and in terms of my personality, so I can’t be the same person, can I?’ These are real problems for children, but unless they are given the opportunity to stop, reflect on, and explore these puzzles and problems, they are unlikely to go any further with them. So, because children do, in fact, encounter philosophical puzzles and problems, I argue that they should be given an opportunity to explore them, but also be given a systematic method for doing so. Philosophy provides such a method. In short, I capture this with 4 Rs. Philosophy is…

- Responsive

- Reflective

- Reasoned

- Re-evaluative

So, when children encounter, as I argue they do, philosophical puzzles and problems they should be given the opportunity to respond to the problem and perhaps to acknowledge that there is one, to reflect on the nature of the problem or to reflect on the central concepts by asking and exploring questions such as, ‘What is time?’ or ‘What is change?’ Then they can try to order their thoughts and ideas in a process of rational thought using reasoned arguments, and finally they should be invited to evaluate and re-evaluate their answers in light of those and other reasons given by themselves or their peers. The important thing to understand here is that, when it is done well, philosophy - as much with children as with adults - is not simply a sharing exercise in which opinions are offered, it is an evaluative process based on the quality of reasons given. According to this picture of philosophy, one answers according to the demands of reason.

In addition to this, puzzles and problems of a non-philosophical nature (e.g. a maths or science one) share structural qualities with puzzles and problems of a philosophical nature (this is one possible reason the research yielded good results with maths), and so, by doing philosophy one is practising the sort of thinking that will also be needed in other subjects, when problem-solving for instance. But, because philosophy is dedicated to conceptual thinking, one does not need to know a body of knowledge to begin philosophising. All children need is a brain, ears and a mouth, something to think about (and perhaps a good facilitator!) in order to start practising good thinking - indispensible for all learning and all subjects.

And the reason this should be begun when children are young? For the same reason that children start doing maths or music when they are young, so that they can learn, as a disposition, to be proficient with maths, music and good thinking. And what could be more important to a learner than proficiency in good thinking?"
via:anne  education  schools  teaching  pedagogy  curriculum  philosophy  cv  2015  peterworley  thinking  reflection  classideas  reasoning  problemsolving  criticalthinking 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Spinoza in a T-Shirt – The New Inquiry
"This is the social and ethical function of design standardization: to assign and put bodies in their “proper” place. Standardized design creates violent relations between bodies and environments. The intensity of violence the standard body brings to bear on an individual’s body is measured in that body’s difference and distance from the standard. A chair that is too high, a beam too low, a corridor too narrow acts on the body forcefully and with a force that is unevenly distributed. Bodies that are farther from the standard body bear the weight of these forces more heavily than those that are closer to the arbitrary standard. But to resolve this design problem does not mean that we need a more-inclusive approach to design. The very idea of inclusion, of opening up and expanding the conceptual parameters of human bodies, depends for its logic and operation on the existence of parameters in the first place. In other words, a more inclusive approach to design remains fundamentally exclusive in its logic.

If Spinoza’s critical question points us toward an understanding of what standardized design does wrong, it also indicates how to get it right. The works of fashion designer Rei Kawakubo and of the artists-architects Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins are the result of materialist practices that reflect the Spinozist principle of not knowing what a body is. Their approach to design is based not so much on what the designers claim to know about the body, but instead on what they ignore. Their approaches refuse predetermined conceptualizations of what a body is and what a body can do. For instance, Kawakubo’s “bumpy” dresses (from the highly celebrated “Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body” Comme Des Garcons Spring/Summer 1997 collection) form a cloth+body assemblage that challenges preconceived ideas of the body and of beauty. At a larger scale, Arakawa and Gins’ Mitaka Lofts in Tokyo and Yoro Park in Gifu prefecture deny any predetermined category of the body in favor of a profound ignorance of what makes a body a body at all.

These designs can have profound sociopolitical effects. Momoyo Homma (the director of the architects’ Tokyo office) relates how her mother, who normally cannot walk without her cane, had no problems navigating the bumpy floor of the Mitaka Lofts. Homma’s mother’s experience does not mean that the Mitaka Lofts are a miraculous instrument that would resuscitate a septuagenarian’s ability to walk without a cane. It reveals that her body only needs a cane in environments designed for bodies that differ substantially from hers.

The cane, itself a designed object, is a clear marker of the differential (often antagonistic) relations that design produces between bodies and spaces/places, and between non-standard and standard bodies. As a prosthesis, the cane’s purpose is to “correct” the non-standard body so that its functions reflect as closely as possible a fidelity with the “normal” body. Arakawa and Gins’ architecture offers an environment where the non-standard body does not need a “corrective,” since the environment’s design is not structured around what they think a body is.

Spinoza’s question—what can a body do?—insists that we set aside preconceived and normative notions of what a body is. Arakawa and Gins’ architecture suggests a slight but significant revision: Rather than conceptualizing bodies from the position of not knowing what they are, we should begin from the position that we don’t know what bodies are not. The double-negative allows a crucial correction to the Spinozist account of the body.

Spinoza’s question delays conceptualizations of the body, but it still doesn’t do away with normative formulations of the body. Affirming an ignorance of something presupposes that what is ignored could be actually known. “We don’t know what a body is” implicitly suggests that a holistic knowledge of what a body is actually exists—we just don’t presume to know it (yet).

The position of “not presuming” is too close to the liberal stance of having tolerance for difference—a position of liberal multiculturalism we find suspicious. The problem with liberal tolerance is that it already assumes and takes up a position of power. The designer is in the privileged position of being tolerant of another, and of designating who is deserving of tolerance. Whether the presumption is to know or not know the body, it is either way an act of the designer’s agency since knowing/unknowing the body is realized exclusively in the design of the garment, room, chair, table, etc. The power of the designer remains intact either way.

Alternatively, to not know what a body isn’t does more than suspend or delay normalizing conceptualizations of the body. It refuses such total claims of body knowledge at all. Just as the double-negative construction becomes affirmative, not knowing what a body isn’t affirms all bodies by doing away with the ideal of the normative body altogether. To not know what a body isn’t means that the idea of the body is infinitely open, rather than just momentarily open. To not know what a body isn’t means that all bodies are equally valid modes and forms of embodiment. Nothing is “not a body” and so everything is a body. This is not a philosophical issue but a political problem. What is a body? What is a human body? These are philosophical treatises that do not address our concern with how built environments empower some bodies and disempower others according to a set of “universal” design presumptions and methods.

By shifting our focus from what a body is to what a body can do, we can begin to explore the political—sometimes violent—relations of bodies, objects, and environments that are produced and maintained through standard design practices and knowledge. How might a collaborative relation of body and environment create the potential for a more non-hierarchical architecture? How might it build one that frees all bodies from the abstract concept of a “normal” body?

As impressive and seductive as the designers named above are, they are not politically egalitarian even though their designs may be aesthetically radical. Kawakubo, Gins, and Arakawa’s built environments are among a highly rarified class of design, out of reach to all but a select few inhabitants/consumers. Although their design approaches are unconventional, they don’t disrupt the hierarchical relations that structure dominant paradigms of design. In fact, their work is greatly celebrated in establishment fashion and architecture design circles.

A design process and philosophy that doesn’t know what a body isn’t can be found in a decidedly more mundane built environment. The jersey knit cotton T-shirt—a product found across the entire price point spectrum—is accessible and inhabitable by a great number of people. Jersey knit cotton is one of the cheaper fabrics, pliable to a broad range of bodies. Jersey knit cotton T-shirts really don’t know what a body isn’t—to this T-shirt, all bodies are T-shirt-able, all bodies can inhabit the space of a T-shirt, though how they inhabit it will be largely determined by the individual body. How the t-shirt pulls or hangs loose (and by how much) will certainly vary across bodies and across time. Indeed, the T-shirt’s stretchy jersey knit cotton materializes precisely this principle of contingency.

Julie Wilkins’ designs are aimed at “extending the grammar of the T-shirt.” Stretching the T-shirt to new proportions, her Future Classics Dress collections (made entirely of jersey knit fabrics, though not necessarily knit from cotton) are even more adaptable and modifiable than the classic T-shirt, which is somewhat limited by its fundamental T shape. (“Somewhat limited,” because its T shape has not precluded the vast number and variety of bodies that do not conform to the T-shape from wearing T-shirts.) Wilkins’ design approach is unlike those that make up traditional tables, chairs, windows, and clothing that are designed and fabricated around standard body dimensions. Wilkins’ designs create built environments that are pliant, dynamic, modular, and mobile.

Wilkins’ Future Classics Dress designs are modifiable by and adaptable to an unspecified range of bodies; they are conditional architectures. As demonstrated on their website, one garment can be worn in many ways, on many bodies. How users inhabit the clothes depends on them as much as on the designer. Choosing how to wear a Future Classics garment can be an involved process. While the Future Classics Dress collections don’t give individuals total autonomy, they allow bodies more freedom than we’ve seen before."



"The idealized relationship of bodies and designed grounds is a predictive geometric one. It is widely accepted that a surface directly perpendicular to the body provides the best environment for bodies to function. As a result, the surfaces of designed grounds are overwhelmingly flat, and non-flat floors are marked as problems to be fixed. Yet even a cursory glance at any playground and its many and differently uneven grounds—“terrains” is a better word—trouble this taken-for-granted logic.

Children tend to have a particularly acute relation to their physical environment. Their small and unpracticed bodies almost never fit the overwhelmingly hard, flat surfaces of mainstream environments. In this way, all young children can be understood as having non-standard bodies. Their “unfitness” is measured in relation to normatively designed built environments. The image of any young child climbing a set of stairs illustrates the kind of unfitness we mean. By contrast, the playground’s dense rubbery foam floors, its flexible pathways (e.g, chain-linked bridges), and its integration of Parent and Virilio’s Oblique Function of various slopes and elevations, are surfaces that children’s bodies navigate capably, oftentimes with a level of ease that escapes adults… [more]
spinoza  design  arakawa  madelinegins  body  bodies  normal  normalization  standardization  variation  architecture  fashion  politics  inclusion  tolerance  inclusivity  adaptability  léopoldlambert  minh-hatpham  henrydreyfuss  reikawakubo  juliewilkins  paulvirilio  claudeparent  theobliquefunction  futureclassicsdress  modification  stretch  give  glvo  uniformproject  audiencesofone  philosophy  standards  canon  canes  ability  abilities  disability  variability  ablerism  ethics  textiles  personaluniforms  fabrics  clothing  clothes  inlcusivity  disabilities 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS
"GRACE LEE BOGGS: Well, I had no idea what I was gonna do after I got my degree in philosophy in 1940. But what I did know was at that time, if you were a Chinese-American, even department stores wouldn't hire you. They'd come right out and say, "We don't hire Orientals." And so the idea of my getting a job teaching in a university and so forth was really ridiculous. And I went to Chicago and I got a job in the philosophy library there for $10 a week, And so I found a little old Jewish woman right near the university who took pity on me and said I could stay in her basement rent-free. The only obstacle was that I had to face down a barricade of rats in order to get into her basement. And at that time, in the black communities, they were beginning to protest and struggle against rat-infested housing. So I joined one of the tenants' organizations and thereby came in touch with the black community for the first time in my life.

BILL MOYERS: One of her first heroes in that community was A. Philip Randolph, the charismatic labor leader who had won a long struggle to organize black railroad porters. In the 1930s. on the eve of World War II, Randolph was furious that blacks were being turned away from good paying jobs in the booming defense plants.

When he took his argument to F.D.R., the president was sympathetic but reluctant to act. Proclaiming that quote 'power is the active principle of only the organized masses,' Randolph called for a huge march on Washington to shame the president. It worked. F.D.R. backed down and signed an order banning discrimination in the defense industry. All over America blacks moved from the countryside into the cities to take up jobs — the first time in 400 years — says Grace Lee Boggs, that black men could bring home a regular paycheck.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: And when I saw what a movement could do, I said, "Boy, that's what I wanna do with my life."

GRACE LEE BOGGS: It was just amazing. I mean, how you have to take advantage of a crisis in the system and in the government and also press to meet the needs of the people who are struggling for dignity. I mean, that's very tricky.

BILL MOYERS: It does take moral force to make political decisions possible.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Yeah. and I think that too much of our emphasis on struggle has simply been in terms of confrontation and not enough recognition of how much spiritual and moral force is involved in the people who are struggling.

BILL MOYERS: Well, that's true. But power never gives up anything voluntarily. People have to ask for it. They have to demand it. They have-to--

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Well, you know as Douglas said, "Power yields nothing without a struggle." But how one struggles I think is now a very challenging question.

BILL MOYERS: She would learn a lot more about struggle from the man she married in 1952 — Jimmy Boggs, a radical activist, organizer, and writer. They couldn't have been outwardly more different — he was a black man, an auto worker and she was a Chinese-American, college educated philosopher — but they were kindred spirits, and their marriage lasted four decades until his death.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I think that I owe a great deal of my rootedness to Jimmy because he learned to write and become a writer because in his illiterate community nobody could read and write. He picked cotton, and then went to work in Detroit. He saw himself as having been part of one epoch, the agriculture epoch, and now the industrial epoch, and now the post-industrial epoch. I think that's a very important part of what we need in this country, is that sense that we have lived through so many stages, and that we are entering into a new stage where we could create something completely different. Jimmy had that feeling. "



"BILL MOYERS: And you think that this question of work was at the heart of what happened-- or it was part of what happened in Detroit that summer?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I don't think it's that they were conscious of it, but I thought-- what I saw happen was that young people who recognized that working in the factory was what had allowed their parents to buy a house, to raise a family, to get married, to send their kids to school, that was eroding. They felt that-- no one cares anymore.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: And what we tried to do is explain that a rebellion is righteous, because it's the protest by a people against injustice, because of unrighteous situation, but it's not enough. You have to go beyond rebellion. And it was amazing, a turning point in my life, because until that time, I had not made a distinction between a rebellion and revolution. And it forced us to begin thinking, what does a revolution mean? How does it relate to evolution?"



"BILL MOYERS: The conundrum for me is this; The war in Vietnam continued another seven years after Martin Luther King's great speech at Riverside here in New York City on April 4th, 1967. His moral argument did not take hold with the powers-that-be.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I don't expect moral arguments to take hold with the powers-that-be. They are in their positions of power. They are part of the system. They are part of the problem.

BILL MOYERS: Then do moral arguments have any force if they--

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Of course they do.

BILL MOYERS: If they can be so heedlessly ignored?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I think because we depend too much on the government to do it. I think we're not looking sufficiently at what is happening at the grassroots in the country. We have not emphasized sufficiently the cultural revolution that we have to make among ourselves in order to force the government to do differently. Things do not start with governments--

BILL MOYERS: But wars do.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: There's big changes--

BILL MOYERS: Wars do. Wars do.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Wars do. But positive changes leaps forward in the evolution of human kind, do not start with governments. I think that's what the Civil Rights Movement taught us.

BILL MOYERS: But Martin Luther King was ignored then on the war. In fact, the last few years of his life, as he was moving beyond the protest in the South, and the end of official segregation, he was largely ignored if not ridiculed for his position on economic equality. Upon doing something about poverty. And, in fact, many civil rights leaders, as you remember, Grace, condemned him for mixing foreign policy with civil rights. They said; That's not what we should be about.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: But see, what I hear in what you're saying is a separation of the anti-war speech of the peace trajectory, from the other things that Martin said. He was talking about a radical revolution of values. And that radical revolution of values has not been pursued in the last forty years. The consumerism, and materialism, has gotten worse. The militarism has continued, while people are going around, you know just using their credit cards. All that's been taking place. And so, would he have continued to challenge those? I think he would. But on the whole, our society has not been challenging those, except in small pockets.

BILL MOYERS: He said that the three triplets of society in America were; Racism, consumerism or materialism and militarism. And you're saying those haven't changed.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I'm saying that not only have those not changed, but people have isolated the struggles against each of these from the other. They have not seen that they're part of one whole of a radical revolution of values that we all must undergo. "



"BILL MOYERS: Yes, but where is the sign of the movement today?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I believe that we are at the point now, in the United States, where a movement is beginning to emerge. I think that the calamity, the quagmire of the Iraq war, the outsourcing of jobs, the drop-out of young people from the education system, the monstrous growth of the prison-industrial complex, the planetary emergency, which we are engulfed at the present moment, is demanding that instead of just complaining about these things, instead of just protesting about these things, we begin to look for, and hope for, another way of living. And I think that's where the movement -- I see a movement beginning to emerge, 'cause I see hope beginning to trump despair.

BILL MOYERS: Where do you see the signs of it?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I see the signs in the various small groups that are emerging all over the place to try and regain our humanity in very practical ways. For example in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Will Allen, who is a former basketball player has purchased two and a half acres of land, with five greenhouses on it, and he is beginning to grow food, healthy food for his community. And communities are growing up around that idea. I mean, that's a huge change in the way that we think of the city. I mean, the things we have to restore are so elemental. Not just food, and not just healthy food, but a different way of relating to time and history and to the earth.

BILL MOYERS: And a garden does that for you?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Yes. A garden does all sorts of things. It helps young people to relate to the Earth in a different way. It helps them to relate to their elders in a different way. It helps them to think of time in a different way.

BILL MOYERS: How so?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Well, if we just press a button, and you think that's the key to reality, you're in a hell of a mess of a human being."



"BILL MOYERS: You know, a lot of young people out there would agree with your analysis. With your diagnosis. And then they will say; What can I do that's practical? How do I make the difference that Grace Lee Boggs is taking about. What would you be doing?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I would say do something local. Do something real, however, small. And don't diss the political things, but understand their limitations.

BILL MOYERS: Don't 'diss' them?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Disrespect them.

BILL MOYERS: Disrespect them?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Understand their … [more]
via:jackcheng  2007  graceleeboggs  activism  gardens  gardening  civilrightsmovement  us  prisonindustrialcomplex  education  climatechange  protest  change  revolution  democracy  struggle  rebellion  racism  socialism  occupation  riots  righteousness  injustice  justice  martinlutherkingjr  jimmyboggs  aphiliprandolph  detroit  evolution  changemaking  consumerism  materialism  militarism  vietnamwar  morality  power  grassroots  war  economics  poverty  government  systemsthinking  values  christianity  philosophy  karlmarx  marxism  humanevolution  society  labor  local  politics  discussion  leadership  mlk 
june 2015 by robertogreco
John Dewey My Pedagogic Creed
" I believe that the only true education comes through the stimulation of the child's powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself. Through these demands he is stimulated to act as a member of a unity, to emerge from his original narrowness of action and feeling and to conceive of himself from the standpoint of the welfare of the group to which he belongs. Through the responses which others make to his own activities he comes to know what these mean in social terms. The value which they have is reflected back into them. For instance, through the response which is made to the child's instinctive babblings the child comes to know what those babblings mean; they are transformed into articulate language and thus the child is introduced into the consolidated wealth of ideas and emotions which are now summed up in language."
johndewey  via:willrichardson  education  philosophy  pedagogy  schools  socialprogress  society 
june 2015 by robertogreco
A Practice of Ethics — Medium
"A few months ago, I spent a Saturday afternoon chewing on all this with my friend Boris Anthony. Boris was taking a month in Japan to digest and reflect, coming off a few years of strategic design and experience architecture at HERE, Nokia’s mapping and navigation services division, where he worked several “powers of ten” beyond what most of us might identify as design: preparing the patterns and sewing the seams between systems of systems, each teeming with the digital breadcrumb trails of billions of human beings. This responsibility had made Boris acutely aware of the lack of ethical rigor in the practice of design. Never one to leave a good conversation to rest, AQ invited him to host a discussion of ethics in design for a special edition of our talk series Ride The Lightning on April 16th.

When Boris joined Nokia, he found himself enveloped by Finnish design philosophy and was struck by the strong sense of societal responsibility evident in the execution of everyday products. He understood that this approach had its roots deep in humanism and the socio-economic transitions Finland experienced in the wake of industrialization. There was an urgent need and desire to modernize society, to provide affordable, hygienic and delightful instruments of higher living standards. Designers were a central part of this project and strived to meet these ideals, whether they were working on houses, dinner plates or children’s clothing.

Boris is worried that the critical thought necessary for this level of follow-through is too often lost in the pursuit of such things as “seamlessness” and “scalability”, in the name of user experience.

Good ethical practice, inseparable from good design, begins with investigation, with questions. What follows are a few questions we should ask ourselves to clarify the stakes as we design, pulled from the conversation with Boris and our guests. These questions are not easy to answer: in fact, some of them could take a lifetime to unravel. But the more effort we put into understanding the answers, the better prepared we are to fulfill our commitment to ensure our impact on people’s lives is a positive one.

1. Who are the parties?



2. What is being exchanged?



3. Who else might this impact?



4. How is the exchange being communicated?



5. How might this change with scale?



"We often start a project with the best intentions, only for them to be gradually warped by decisions so incremental we barely notice how far we’ve strayed from the starting line. As Mike Monteiro put it, “bad design makes it into the world not through malicious intent, but through no intent at all.”

I believe most designers are motivated by a desire to make people’s lives better. But it’s not enough to remember this motivation only at critical junctures: when switching jobs, reading an effusive review of something we designed, or seeing our client on the morning news. Design is a daily practice, and if we are to transform this motivation into a commitment, we need to consider the motivations and ethical implications of even our smallest decisions."
ethics  design  economics  philosophy  chrispalmieri  borisanthony  mikemonteiro  morality  socialgood  scale  communication  intentions  motivation  intent 
june 2015 by robertogreco
A New ‘Wrinkle in Time’ - WSJ
[Document viewer: http://graphics.wsj.com/documents/doc-cloud-embedder/?sidebar=1#1881486-a-wrinkle-in-time-excerpt

PDF of the document: https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1881486/a-wrinkle-in-time-excerpt.pdf ]

"Madeleine L’Engle’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ has sold 14 million copies since its publication in 1962. Now, a never-before-seen passage cut from an early draft is shedding surprising light on the author’s political philosophy"

"Madeleine L’Engle, the author of “A Wrinkle in Time,” resisted labels. Her books weren’t for children, she said. They were for people. Devoted to religious study, she bristled when called a Christian writer. And though some of her books had political themes, she wasn’t known to write overtly about politics. That is, until her granddaughter, Charlotte Jones Voiklis, came across an unknown three-page passage that was cut before publication.

The passage, which Ms. Voiklis shared with The Wall Street Journal so it could be published for the first time, sheds new light on one of the most beloved and best-selling young-adult books in American literature. Published in 1962, “A Wrinkle in Time” has sold 14 million copies and inspired a TV-movie adaptation, a graphic novel, and an opera. Meg Murry, the novel’s strong-willed misfit heroine, has been a role model for generations of children, especially girls. Now, Jennifer Lee, the co-writer and co-director of the Oscar-winning animated film, “Frozen,” is writing a film adaptation for Disney.

A witches’ brew of science fiction and fantasy, Christian theology and a hint of politics, “A Wrinkle in Time” has long been considered influenced by the Cold War. It explores the dangers of conformity, and presents evil as a world whose inhabitants’ thoughts and actions are controlled by a sinister, disembodied brain.

Many readers, then and now, have understood the book’s dark planet Camazotz—a regimented place in which mothers in unison call their children in for dinner—to represent the Soviet Union. But the passage discovered by L’Engle’s granddaughter presents a more nuanced worldview.

In it, Meg has just made a narrow escape from Camazotz. As Meg’s father massages her limbs, which are frozen from a jarring trip through space and time, she asks: “But Father, how did the Black Thing—how did it capture Camazotz?” Her father proceeds to lay out the political philosophy behind the book in much starker terms than are apparent in the final version.

He says that yes, totalitarianism can lead to this kind of evil. (The author calls out examples by name, including Hitler, Mussolini and Khrushchev.) But it can also happen in a democracy that places too much value on security, Mr. Murry says. “Security is a most seductive thing,” he tells his daughter. “I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the greatest evil there is.”

Ms. Voiklis said she wanted readers to know the book wasn’t a simple allegory of communism. Instead, it’s about the risk of any country—including a democracy—placing too much value on security. The tension between safety and personal freedom is an idea that resonates in today’s politics.

“It’s normal to be afraid,” said Ms. Voiklis, who manages her late grandmother’s estate full-time in New York. “But you can’t let the fear control your decisions. Otherwise, you risk becoming like Camazotz.”

Ms. Voiklis found the excerpt a few years ago, as she was doing research for the release of the book’s 50th-anniversary edition. It was part of the earliest surviving typewritten manuscript, which for years was stored in L’Engle’s home and later moved to storage.

“A Wrinkle in Time” is a cultural touchstone. The Newbery Medal-winner was the first of five books in L’Engle’s so-called Time Quintet. On “Lost,” the television series whose cult following dissected its frequent literary references, the bookworm Sawyer reads a copy of “A Wrinkle in Time.”

The novel inspired author Rebecca Stead to write her own Newbery Medal-winning book, “When You Reach Me,” whose protagonist, Miranda, reads “A Wrinkle in Time.” L’Engle’s works have also sparked the interest of scholars in the U.S. and abroad. In 2012, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published an oral history titled “Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices,” by literary historian and biographer Leonard S. Marcus.

A three-hour live-action television adaptation, originally conceived as a miniseries, was broadcast on ABC in 2004 and released on DVD. Distributed by Disney, the production didn’t impress L’Engle. “I expected it to be bad, and it is,” she told Newsweek.

L’Engle’s publisher, Macmillan, which in March released a paperback version of the graphic novel, said it has no plans to include the deleted passage in new editions.

Ms. Voiklis has shared the passage with Catherine Hand, a producer on the film adaptation in development by Walt Disney Pictures. It isn’t clear whether Ms. Lee will direct the film, and casting hasn’t been announced. Ms. Hand said it was too early to comment on the project.

“As an 11-year-old, I read ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and spent many a daydream and sleepless night imagining what it would be like to break free from the limitations of time,” Ms. Lee wrote last fall in a short piece for WSJ. Magazine, which invited her to write on the subject of the future.

Readers love the novel’s band of oddball characters: math-whiz Meg, who is miserable at school; her precocious, telepathic brother, Charles Wallace; Meg’s budding love-interest, Calvin; and a wacky trio of shape-shifting women —witches? angels?—who guide them on their dangerous journey.

“A wonderful aspect of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ is its celebration of the different,” author Katherine Paterson wrote in the introduction to the 50th-anniversary edition. “In fact, hell, as it is embodied on Camazotz, is being exactly like everyone else.”

Scholars invited by the Journal to review the new passage say it offers a window into L’Engle’s thinking. The excerpt is the most direct discussion of politics in her writing, the scholars said, offering a richer explanation of the author’s political views.

They agreed with Ms. Voiklis that cutting it was the right decision, one which strengthened the narrative. The section was too didactic, and would have dated the book, some said. Suzanne Bray, a L’Engle scholar who teaches at Université Catholique de Lille in France, said the section likely was cut precisely because it was “too political, or too obviously political”—something the author generally avoided in her writing.

In the passage, Meg pushes back against her father’s argument about the dangers of fixating on security:

“Well—but I want to be secure, Father. I hate feeling insecure.”

“But you don’t love security enough so that you guide your life by it, Meg. You weren’t thinking of security when you came to rescue me with Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which.”

Naomi Wood, an associate professor at Kansas State University who has studied L’Engle, said she was intrigued by the conversation between Meg and her father. “It does confirm that L’Engle had the democratic, capitalist U.S. in mind as well as the autocratic, communist U.S.S.R.,” she said.

L’Engle was born in New York City in 1918. When she was 12 years old, her parents dropped her off without warning at a boarding school in Switzerland. It was a traumatic and isolating experience. She attended Smith College and was working as a novelist and theater understudy in New York when she fell in love with a fellow actor, Hugh Franklin.

After their first child, Ms. Voiklis’s mother, was born, they abandoned their theater careers and moved to rural Connecticut, where they ran a general store. L’Engle was restless there. Grappling with existential questions, she turned, by chance, to the writings of Albert Einstein and other physicists.

The names Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which popped into her head as she and her family drove through Arizona’s Painted Desert on a camping trip in the spring of 1959.

At the heart of the book is Meg, a temper-prone teen struggling to harness her intellectual gifts. She, Charles Wallace and Calvin travel through time and space to rescue Mr. Murry, a scientist who has gone missing on a secret assignment for the U.S. government.

Publishers didn’t know what to make of it and one after another rejected the manuscript.

“Today I am crawling around in the depths of gloom,” the author confided to her journal on Sept. 17, 1960, after a rejection from a publisher who suggested it be cut in half. “I’m willing to rewrite, to rewrite extensively, to cut as much as necessary; but I am not willing to mutilate, to destroy the essence of the book.”

L’Engle finally found a collaborator in John Farrar of Farrar, Straus and Co. (known today as Farrar, Straus and Giroux). But even he had misgivings. He took her to lunch with Hal Vursell, who would edit the book.

“They warned me, ‘Now, dear, we don’t want you to be disappointed, but this book is not going to sell. It’s much too difficult for children,’” L’Engle recalled in a foreword to the 25th-anniversary edition.

“The problem wasn’t that it was too difficult for children,” she wrote. “It was too difficult for adults.”

There is no known correspondence between L’Engle and her editor discussing the changes they made to “A Wrinkle in Time,” and the author’s journals don’t offer any clues, Ms. Voiklis said. So it isn’t clear whether Mr. Vursell proposed cutting the passage or the author decided to on her own. The various drafts aren’t dated or numbered, though Ms. Voiklis has assembled them in roughly chronological order.

Even without the new passage, the danger of conformity remained a strong theme in “A Wrinkle in Time”—and not just in the scenes on the dark planet Camazotz. Meg chafes… [more]
madeleinel'engle  awrinkleintime  security  totalitarianism  democracy  charlottejonesvoiklis  philosophy  politics  2015  sovietunion  jenniferlee  camazotz  rebeccastead  catherinehand  suzannebray  naomiwood  johnfarrar  farrarstrauss  benfritz  1960  hitler  mussolini  khrushchev  fidelcastro  maotsetung  franco 
april 2015 by robertogreco
79 Theses on Technology. For Disputation. | The Infernal Machine
"Alan Jacobs has written seventy-nine theses on technology for disputation. A disputation is an old technology, a formal technique of debate and argument that took shape in medieval universities in Paris, Bologna, and Oxford in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In its most general form, a disputation consisted of a thesis, a counter-thesis, and a string of arguments, usually buttressed by citations of Aristotle, Augustine, or the Bible.

But disputations were not just formal arguments. They were public performances that trained university students in how to seek and argue for the truth. They made demands on students and masters alike. Truth was hard won; it was to be found in multiple, sometimes conflicting traditions; it required one to give and recognize arguments; and, perhaps above all, it demanded an epistemic humility, an acknowledgment that truth was something sought, not something produced.

It is, then, in this spirit that Jacobs offers, tongue firmly in cheek, his seventy-nine theses on technology and what it means to inhabit a world formed by it. They are pithy, witty, ponderous, and full of life. And over the following weeks, we at the Infernal Machine will take Jacobs’ theses at his provocative best and dispute them. We’ll take three or four at a time and offer our own counter-theses in a spirit of generosity.

So here they are:

1. Everything begins with attention.

2. It is vital to ask, “What must I pay attention to?”

3. It is vital to ask, “What may I pay attention to?”

4. It is vital to ask, “What must I refuse attention to?”

5. To “pay” attention is not a metaphor: Attending to something is an economic exercise, an exchange with uncertain returns.

6. Attention is not an infinitely renewable resource; but it is partially renewable, if well-invested and properly cared for.

7. We should evaluate our investments of attention at least as carefully and critically as our investments of money.

8. Sir Francis Bacon provides a narrow and stringent model for what counts as attentiveness: “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

9. An essential question is, “What form of attention does this phenomenon require? That of reading or seeing? That of writing also? Or silence?”

10. Attentiveness must never be confused with the desire to mark or announce attentiveness. (“Can I learn to suffer/Without saying something ironic or funny/On suffering?”—Prospero, in Auden’s The Sea and the Mirror)

11. “Mindfulness” seems to many a valid response to the perils of incessant connectivity because it confines its recommendation to the cultivation of a mental stance without objects.

12. That is, mindfulness reduces mental health to a single, simple technique that delivers its user from the obligation to ask any awkward questions about what his or her mind is and is not attending to.

13. The only mindfulness worth cultivating will be teleological through and through.

14. Such mindfulness, and all other healthy forms of attention—healthy for oneself and for others—can only happen with the creation of and care for an attentional commons.

15. This will not be easy to do in a culture for which surveillance has become the normative form of care.

16. Simone Weil wrote that ‘Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity’; if so, then surveillance is the opposite of attention.

17. The primary battles on social media today are fought by two mutually surveilling armies: code fetishists and antinomians.

18. The intensity of those battles is increased by a failure by any of the parties to consider the importance of intimacy gradients.

19. “And weeping arises from sorrow, but sorrow also arises from weeping.”—Bertolt Brecht, writing about Twitter

20. We cannot understand the internet without perceiving its true status: The Internet is a failed state.

21. We cannot respond properly to that failed-state condition without realizing and avoiding the perils of seeing like a state.

22. If instead of thinking of the internet in statist terms we apply the logic of subsidiarity, we might be able to imagine the digital equivalent of a Mondragon cooperative.

23. The internet groans in travail as it awaits its José María Arizmendiarrieta."

[continues on]

[A collection of follow-ups and responses is accummulating here:
http://iasc-culture.org/THR/channels/Infernal_Machine/tag/79-theses-on-technology/

For example: “79 Theses on Technology: On Attention”
http://iasc-culture.org/THR/channels/Infernal_Machine/2015/03/79-theses-on-technology-on-attention/

And another round-up of responses:
http://text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com/2015/04/more-on-theses.html ]
alanjacobs  anthropology  culture  digital  history  technology  attention  dunning-krugereffect  anosognosia  pleasure  ethics  writing  howwewrite  jaronlanier  alextabattok  stupidity  logic  loki  cslewis  algorithms  akrasia  physical  patheticfallacy  hacking  hackers  kevinkelly  georgebernardshaw  agency  philosophy  tommccarthy  commenting  frankkermode  text  texts  community  communication  resistance  mindfulness  internet  online  web  josémaríaarizmendiarrieta  simonwiel  society  whauden  silence  attentiveness  textualist  chadwellmon  surveillance  2015 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Stengers’shibbolet, Bruno Latour [.pdf]
"1997 (foreword) Isabelle Stengers, Power and Invention, University of Minnesota
Press, Minneapolis"

"-Would you say that Isabelle Stengers is the greatest French philosopher of science?

-Yes, except she is from Belgium a country that exists only in part and where, contrary to France, the link between science and the state is nil.

-Would you say that she is the philosophical right-hand of the Nobel Prize winner of chemistry Ilya Prigogine?

-Yes, since she wrote several books with him, and yet she has spent the rest of her life trying to escape from the mass of lunatics attracted to this “New Alliance” between science and culture they both wrote together.

-Is she an historian of science?

-Hard to say. Although she wrote extensively on Galileo, on XIXth century thermodynamics, on chemistry1, she remains a philosopher interested in what her physicists and chemists colleagues should understand of their science. Her main object of attention is modern science, and this is what historians and philosophers should study together, no?

-You are not going to say that she is an internalist philosopher of science, are you?

-Worse than that, Isabelle Stengers is an “hyperinternalist” forcing you always to go further towards a small number of theoretical decisions made by her scientific colleagues. In her eyes, most scientists are often not internalist enough.

-But at least don’t tell us that she is a whiggish historian of science looking, like Gaston Bachelard or Georges Canguilhem, for the ways by which hard science finally escapes from history?

-She is, I am afraid, much worse. She is “anti-anti-whiggish” trying to figure out why the anti-whiggish stance is not the good way to account for what it is to “win” in science, at least not if one aims at convincing the chemists and biologists and physicists she is working with.

-But she is a woman philosopher and at least she must develops some kind of feminist philosophy of science?

-There is hardly anyone more critical of the feminist literature although she uses it extensively and knows it quite well.

-Then, she must be one of these abstract minds trying to reconstruct rationally the foundations of science and being busy erasing all signs of her sex, gender, nationality and standpoint?

-Not at all, there is no one more externalist than her and reading more extensively in the litterature on the social history of science.

-What? Does she have any patience for those ridiculous attempts at connecting science and society?

-Worse than that, she is addicted to it and knows more “science studies” than anyone else in the field.

-Do you mean to say that she likes it because it flatters her radical leanings in politics?

-Worse, she wrote on drug legalization, she is a militant in a small left Belgium party and even went as far as working with charlatans practicing hypnosis and other kinds of unorthodox cures... I told you, Isabelle Stengers is always worse! She wrote as much on hypnosis as on physics and she happily compares chemistry laboratory and ethnopsychiatry, going so far as to rehabilitate the word “charlatan”2.

-Then she must be one of these ignorant radicals doing politics because they are unable to grasp the niceties of science?

-Not quite since she does radical politics through the careful definition of what Laplace, Lagrange, Carnot have done with their equations.

-I am thoroughly lost... Then she must be quite a woman?!

-Yes, and quite a mind!

-But, tell me, how come you have been asked to write a foreword for someone who seems obviously much better endowed in philosophical subtleties, political will and scientific knowledge than yourself?

-This is quite strange, I concur. I guess it is because of the tradition in science studies and in anthropology of the modern world to study “up” instead of “down”. Trying to swallow hard sciences had very good effect on the softer ones. I guess it is the same with Stengers. You grind your teeth on her argument, and you feel much better afterward!..."

[continues into the intro]

"One simple way to define this collection of articles presented in English, is to say that they have been written by a philosopher interested in the very classical question of distinguishing good science from bad. Her new solution to this old problem will be, however, difficult to grasp both for science studies and for philosophers and that requires some clarification. Isabelle Stengers does not share the anti-normative stance of most recent historians and sociologists of science and has no qualms in looking for a shibbolet that will help sort out science from non-science. In this sense, but in this sense only, her work is marginally more acceptable to Anglo-American epistemologists than those of “science studies” who shun away from any normative position. Philosophers will be able to recognize at least that here is someone who is not complacent vis-a-vis the production of bad science and who shares their will for a good cleansing job. The difference, because fortunately there is one, lies in the fact that her own touchstone means getting rid of most epistemologists and quite a lot of hard sciences! So the normative goal is similar but the principles of choice are radically different. "



"Stengers’ request to be cosmopolitically correct cut both ways, and cuts hard. In the obscure fights of the Science Wars, one can safely predicts, she will be seen as a traitor to all the camps, not because she is “in the middle” -no one is less of a middle-woman than her, no one is less an adept of the Golden Medium!- but because she imposes on all protagonists a criterion that they will do their utmost to escape. Although this book appears in a series called “Theories out of bound”, no theory is more binding than Stengers’ new demarcation criterion. Having often tried to escape its binding strength only to find myself forced to use it again, it is a great pleasure (and I say it with some glee) to imagine that English-speaking readers are now to be enmeshed into this most daring enterprise we, in the French-reading world, had to take into account for so long. It is my hope that they will learn more than I did (this is unlikely) in those twenty years when I tried to profit from her marvelous “habits of thoughts”, and also my hope that they will be forced even more than I was (this is more unlikely) to modify their definition of hard science and of radical politics by using Stengers’ shibboleth and pushing it everywhere -against herself if needs be!"
isabellestrengers  brunolatour  1997  whigpunk  whigishness  whigs  science  philosophy  philosophyofscience  history  culture  thirdculture  ilyaprigogine  physics  chemistry  feminism  socialhistory  politics  ethnopsychiatry  charlatans  radicalism 
march 2015 by robertogreco
FIELD | A Journal of Socially-Engaged Art Criticism
"FIELD: A Journal of Socially-Engaged Art Criticism

We are living through a singular cultural moment in which the conventional relationship between art and the social world, and between artist and viewer, is being questioned and renegotiated. FIELD responds to the remarkable proliferation of new artistic practices devoted to forms of political, social and cultural transformation. Frequently collaborative in nature, this work is being produced by artists and art collectives throughout North, South and Central America, Europe, Africa and Asia. While otherwise quite diverse, it is driven by a common desire to establish new relationships between artistic practice and other fields of knowledge production, from urbanism to environmentalism, from experimental education to participatory design. In many cases it has been inspired by, or affiliated with, new movements for social and economic justice around the globe. Throughout this field of practice we see a persistent engagement with sites of resistance and activism, and a desire to move beyond existing definitions of both art and the political. The title of this journal reflects two main concerns. First, it indicates our interest in a body of artistic production that engages the broadest possible range of social forces, actors, discursive systems and physical conditions operating at a given site. And second, it signals a concern with the questions that these projects raise about the “proper” field of art itself, as it engages with other disciplines and other modes of cultural production.

How do these practices redefine our understanding of aesthetic experience? And how do they challenge preconceived notions of the “work” of art? For many in the mainstream art world this opening out is evidence of a dangerous promiscuity, which threatens to subsume the unique identity of art. As a result this work has been largely ignored by the most visible journals and publications in the field. At the same time, an often-problematic concept of “social engagement” has become increasingly fashionable among many museums and foundations in Europe and the United States. There is clearly a need for a more intelligent and nuanced analysis of this new tendency. However, it has become increasingly clear that the normative theoretical conventions and research methodologies governing contemporary art criticism are ill-equipped to address the questions raised by this work. FIELD is based on the belief that informed analysis of this practice requires the cultivation of new forms of interdisciplinary knowledge, and a willingness to challenge the received wisdom of contemporary art criticism and theory. We seek to open a dialogue among and between artists, activists, historians, curators, and critics, as well as researchers in fields such as philosophy, performance studies, urbanism, ethnography, sociology, political science, and education. To that end the journal’s editorial board will include a diverse range of scholars, artists, historians, curators, activists and researchers. It is our belief that it is only at the intersections of these disciplines that can we develop a deeper understanding of the cultural transformations unfolding around us.

–Grant Kester, founder and editor, FIELD


FIELD Editorial Board

Tania Bruguera is an artist and the founder of Immigrant Movement International. Her most recent project is The Museum of Arte Útil.
Teddy Cruz is Professor of Public Culture and Urbanism in the Visual Arts department at the University of California San Diego, and Director of the UCSD Center for Urban Ecologies.
Tom Finkelpearl is the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for New York City and the editor of What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation (Duke University Press, 2013).
Fonna Forman is Associate Professor of Political Science, founding co-director of the UCSD Center on Global Justice and author of Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy: Cosmopolitanism and Moral Theory (Cambridge University Press, 2009).
Dee Hibbert-Jones is Associate Professor of Art and Founder and Co-Director of the Social Practice Research Center at UC Santa Cruz.
Shannon Jackson is the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in the Arts and Humanities at UC Berkeley and author of Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics (Routledge 2011).
Michael Kelly is professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, author of A Hunger for Aesthetics: Enacting the Demands of Art (Columbia University Press, 2012) and editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Aesthetics.
Grant Kester, Field editor and founder, is professor of art history at UCSD and author of The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context (Duke University Press, 2011).
Rick Lowe is an artist, founder of Project Row Houses in Houston, and member of the National Council on the Arts.
George Marcus is the Director of the Center for Ethnography and Chancellor’s Professor and chair of the department of anthropology at UC Irvine, and author of Ethnography Through Thick and Thin (Princeton University Press, 1998).
Paul O’Neill is the Director of the Graduate Program, Center for Curatorial Studies, Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, New York.
Raúl Cárdenas Osuna is an artist, theorist, and the founder of Torolab collective and the Transborder Farmlab in Tijuana, Mexico.
Francesca Polletta is Professor of Sociology at UC Irvine and author of It Was Like a Fever: Storytelling in Protest and Politics (University of Chicago Press, 2006).
Greg Sholette is an activist, artist and professor in the Social Practice Queens program at Queens College and the author of Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture (Pluto Press, 2011).
Nato Thompson is Chief Curator, Creative Time, New York City and editor of Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011 (MIT Press, 2012).

FIELD Editorial Collective

Paloma Checa-Gismero
Alex Kershaw
Noni Brynjolson
Stephanie Sherman
Julia Fernandez
Michael Ano

Thanks

FIELD would like to acknowledge the generous support of the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA), the UCSD Division of Arts and Humanities, and the UCSD Visual Arts department."
ucsd  art  criticism  artcriticism  grantkester  taniabruguera  teddycruz  tomfinkelpearl  fonnaforman  deehibbert-jones  shannonjackson  michaelkelly  ricklowe  georgemarcus  paulo'neill  raúlcárdenasosuna  francescapolletta  gregsholette  natothompson  palomacheca-gismero  alexkershaw  nonibrynjolson  stephaniesherman  juliafernandez  michaelano  ucira  socialpracticeart  knowledgeproduction  urbanism  environmentalism  2015  education  alterative  experimental  participatorydesign  design  participatory  glvo  via:javierarbona  politics  arts  culturalproduction  aesthetics  socialengagement  museums  interdisciplinary  ethnography  sociology  philosophy 
march 2015 by robertogreco
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