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

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

Jos de Mul. Destiny Domesticated. The Rebirth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Technology. State University of New York (SUNY) Press, 2014.  Destiny Domesticated investigates…

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Wittgenstein 2.0. Philosophical reading and writing after the mediatic turn

Wittgenstein 2.0. Philosophical reading and writing after the mediatic turn

Jos de Mul. Wittgenstein 2.0: Philosophical reading and writing after the mediatic turn. In: A. Pichler & H. Hrachovec (eds.) Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Information. Proceedings…

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The sovereign debt crisis or Sophie’s choice. On European tragedies, guilt and responsibility

The sovereign debt crisis or Sophie’s choice. On European tragedies, guilt and responsibility

Liesbeth Noordegraaf-Eelens and Jos de Mul, The sovereign debt crisis or Sophie’s choice. On European tragedies, guilt and responsibility. Heinrich Böll Stiftung. European Union. December…

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Horizons of Hermeneutics

Horizons of Hermeneutics

Jos de Mul. Horizons of Hermeneutics: Intercultural Hermeneutics in a Globalizing World.  Frontiers of Philosophy in China. Vol. 6, No. 4 (2011), 628-655. DOI: 10.1007/s11466-011-0159-x (DOI) 10.1007/s11466-011-0159-x…

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《主权债务危机还是苏菲的抉择:论欧洲的悲剧、罪恶与责任》

《主权债务危机还是苏菲的抉择:论欧洲的悲剧、罪恶与责任》

约斯·德·穆尔 (Jos de Mul),里斯贝思·努尔德格拉芙 (Liesbeth Noordegraaf-Eelens):《主权债务危机还是苏菲的抉择:论欧洲的悲剧、罪恶与责任》(The sovereign debt crisis or Sophie’s choice. On European tragedies, guilt and responsibility),《社会科学战线》2012年第4期(Social Science Front no.4 2012),《新华文摘》2012年第13期全文转载(Xinhua Digest ,no13 2012).

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The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Recombination

The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Recombination

Jos de Mul. The work of art in the age of digital recombination. In J. Raessens, M. Schäfer, M. v. d. Boomen, Lehmann and S. A.-S.…

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The game of life. Narrative and ludic identity formation in computer games

The game of life. Narrative and ludic identity formation in computer games

Jos de Mul. The game of life. Narrative and ludic identity formation in computer games. In: J. Goldstein and J. Raessens,Handbook of Computer Games Studies. Cambridge MA…

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Possible printings.  On 3D printing, database ontology and open (meta)design

Possible printings. On 3D printing, database ontology and open (meta)design

Jos de Mul. Possible printings. On 3D printing, database ontology and open (meta)design. In: B. van den Berg, S. van der Hof & E. Kosta…

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Possible printings.  On 3D printing, database ontology and open (meta)design

Possible printings. On 3D printing, database ontology and open (meta)design

Jos de Mul. Possible printings. On 3D printing, database ontology and open (meta)design. In: B. van den Berg, S. van der Hof & E. Kosta…

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Books: description and reviews

命运的驯化——悲剧重生于技术精神 内容简介 (Chinese translation of Destiny Domesticated\)

命运的驯化——悲剧重生于技术精神 内容简介 (Chinese translation of Destiny Domesticated\)

Jos de Mul. 命运的驯化——悲剧重生于技术精神 内容简介…

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Cyberspace Odyssee

Cyberspace Odyssee

Jos de Mul. Cyberspace Odyssee. Kampen:…

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Toeval. Inaugurale rede

Toeval. Inaugurale rede

Jos de Mul. Toeval. Inaugurale rede. Rotterdam:…

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Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2011 JoomlaWorks Ltd.
Today's specials
Jos de Mul. Noble versus Dawkins. DNA is not the program of the concert of life. Vrij Nederland #13, 2 april, 2016, 77-81.

Forty years ago Richard Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene launched Neo-Darwinism to the general public. It is still as controversial as it was then. Philosopher Jos de Mul examines the case of Dawkins' biggest critic: Denis Noble.

Text: Jos de Mul

Illustrations: Siegfried Woldhek

IT IS FORTY YEARS since the publication of Richard Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene, published in Dutch as De zelfzuchtige genen. Over evolutie, agressie en eigenbelang. This text of 'orthodox neo-Darwinism’ (Dawkins' own words) sold 1 million copies in more than 25 languages. Probably since Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859) no other biology book has had such a huge influence both on general public understanding of what it is to be human, and on scientific research, not only in the life sciences, but also in the social sciences and humanities. It is a particularly radical book which with its brilliantly worded message - that organisms are not much more than temporary vehicles for their immortal genes – expresses a reductionist, dramatically deterministic and ultimately nihilistic image of humanity.

Monday, 18 April 2016 08:56

The modular body

The Modular Body is an online science fiction story about the creation of OSCAR, a living organism built from human cells. The protagonist is Cornelis Vlasman, a versatile biologist for whom the path well-travelled is the most uninteresting one by definition. Together with a few like-minded people he therefore starts an independent laboratory in which he experiments with organic materials, on his own initiative, with his own resources and his own team.

After many years of hard work, Vlasman’s team succeeds in creating new life from cells taken from his own body. Under his supervision the world’s first living organism is built: OSCAR.

OSCAR is a prototype (the size of a human hand) consisting of clickable organ modules grown from human cells.

What makes OSCAR special is the thought process preceding the organism, which comes down to this: (human) life can be regarded as a closed system but when it is approached as a modular system this may lead to innovative applications and solutions.

In a closed system the parts are designed in such a way that they can only function in one specific configuration, which makes repairs and adaptations very complex. An example of such a closed system is the first Apple Macintosh from 1988.

In a modular system, independent modules – similar to building blocks – make up a transformable and therefore flexible configuration. In 2013, Dave Hakkens produced a Modular Phone that consists of separate parts that can be individually replaced and improved.

With the organism OSCAR Vlasman demonstrates that it is possible to create modular life. Stem cells can be reprogrammed, grown and printed as any type of human tissue. The line separating humans from machines is gradually becoming thinner.

The OSCAR prototype opens up possibilities for the human body, for example when it comes to replacing or improving worn out organs in a possibly ‘clickable’ system. Think of Lego as a metaphor.

In biotechnology many experiments are conducted nowadays with printed organs, regenerated tissue and synthetic blood. Organovo, one of the world’s largest biotech companies, expects to be able to print a functional liver by 2014. Taking the entire human body as a possibly modular system is not (or not yet) possible.

Vlasman develops the OSCAR organism – made up from ‘blocks’ – in his lab. This independent and somewhat obscure laboratory is run by a group of people with various expertise: IT specialists, biologists and designers, working with handmade and sometimes second-hand equipment. They operate outside of official channels, thereby avoiding moratoria, scientific protocols or objections of ethical committees, which perhaps enables them to arrive at this seminal breakthrough.

The primitive, vulnerable organism that finally results from Vlasman’s endeavours is kept alive with blood taken from Vlasman and is continually vaccinated against infections, as it has no immune system. The story refers to various similar narratives in world literature and film history, notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Published in Visual arts
Jos de Mul, Michel Houellebecq’s tragic humanism. Lecture in the series Personhood, Law & Literature III organized by the Human Philosophy Project (Warsaw University & Oxford University). Institute of Philosophy, University of Warsaw. Room 4, roundfloor. April 7, 2016, 5-8 PM.

Various authors, including Friedrich Nietzsche and George Steiner, have argued that the tragic worldview, as we find it expressed in Greek tragedy, has become an entirely incomprehensible phenomenon for (post)modern man. The claim defended in this article radically opposes this view. It is argued that tragedy can still teach us something today, and maybe even more so now than in the many intervening centuries that separate us from her days of glory in the fifth century bce. The tragic reveals itself once more in (post)modern society, and nowhere more clearly than in technology, the domain in which we believed the tragic had been domesticated or even eliminated. Referring to the tragic humanism in Michel Houellebecq’s novels The Elementary Particles and The Possibility of an Island it is argued that it is precisely in (post)modern (bio)technologies that we experience the rebirth of the tragic.

Published in Lectures

Department of Philosophy of Culture of the Institute of Philosophy, University of Warsaw together with The Humane Philosophy Project
invite for lectures and seminars by

Professor Jos de Mul

(Erasmus University Rotterdam)


who will be the guest of our Institute in the first week of April.

The plan of his visit is as follows:
Tuesday (5th of April) 
1:15 – 3pm (Institute of Philosophy, room 4, ground floor)
open guest lecture Europe, the tragic continent
6:30 – 8pm (Institute of Philosophy, room 108, I floor)
guest lecture on the seminar Imagination and Identity (conducted by dr P. Bursztyka):
The lecture will be entitled: Playful Identities. From narrative to ludic identity formation

Thursday (7th of April)
5 – 8pm (Institute of Philosophy, room 108, I floor)
Seminar: The tragic humanism of Michel Houellebecq.
This seminar is a part of the seminar series: Personhood, Law & Literature. Humane Philosophy and the Idea of the Tragicorganized by The Humane Philosophy Project.
Contact: dr Przemysław Bursztyka (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Jos de Mul is a Professor of Philosophical Anthropology at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. Among his research interests are metaphysics, philosophy of culture, philosophy of science and epistemology. His publications include: Romantic Desire in (POst)Modern Art and Philosophy (State University of New York Press, 1999) The Tragedy of Finitude. Dilthey’s Hermeneutics of Life, (New Haven: Yale University Press 2004);Cyberspace Odyssey: Towards a Virtual Ontology and Anthropology (Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2010);Destiny Domesticated. The Rebirth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Technology (State University of New York (State University of New York Press,  2014).

Published in News
Bruno Accarino, Jos de Mul und Hans-Peter Krüger (Hrsg.). Internationales Jahrbuch für Philosophische Anthropologie. Band 5 / International Yearbook for Philosophical Anthropology. Volume 5. O. Mitcherlich-Schönherrr & M. Schloßberger, (Hrsg.). Die Unergründlichkeit der menschlichen Natur. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015, 294 p.

Die Unergründlichkeit der menschlichen Natur ist ein Gemeinplatz der Philosophie: Irgendetwas an der Natur des Menschen entzieht sich beharrlich jedem philosophischen Zugriff: homo absconditus. Das Motiv findet sich in vielen philosophischen Traditionen, aber erst die recht gestellte Frage nach dem Wesen des Menschen ermöglicht ein volles Verständnis der Rede vom homo absconditus. Der Band versammelt Beiträge aus unterschiedlichen Traditionen und Schulen und bringt so die verschiedenen Zugriffe auf die Unergründlichkeit der menschlichen Natur ins Gespräch.

 

Published in Books
Bruno Accarino, Jos de Mul and Hans-Peter Krüger (Hrsg.). Internationales Jahrbuch für Philosophische Anthropologie. Band 4 / International Yearbook for Philosophical Anthropology. Volume 4. O. Mitcherlich-Schönherrr & M. Schloßberger, (Hrsg.). Das Glück des Glücks. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013/2014, 364 p.

Das Jahrbuch für Philosophische Anthropologie reflektiert interdisziplinäre Grenz­übergänge zwischen den empirischen Disziplinen und ihren jeweiligen Anthropologien. Der diesjährige Band, »Das Glück des Glücks« fragt nach dem Verhältnis der subjektiven und der objektiven Dimensionen des Glücks. Dieses Verhältnis wird für die Themen »Glück haben«, »Glücklich sein«, »Das Glück suchen« und »Das Glück verfehlen« ausgelotet.

Published in Books
Jos de Mul. Database Identity: between construction and control. Invited lecture at the 1st Thinkers’ Summit of Translingual Communication on Life: Data, Symbol and Wisdom. Beijing: Department of Journalism and Communication. Beijing University, Jamuary 10-11, 2016.
Published in Lectures
Jos de Mul. Encyclopedias, hive minds and global brains. A cognitive evolutionary account of Wikipedia. Conference 'Reading Wikipedia', Trippenhuis Building KNAW, Kloveniersburgwal 29, Amsterdam, 23 november 2015.


International Academic Conference 'Reading Wikipedia'

10:00 - 17:00

One day academic conference in the KNAW on the occasion of the Erasmus Prize 2015 for the Wikipedia Community. Researchers, authors, activists and policy makers address topical issues around Wikipedia.

 

The Uniqueness of Wikipedia as a Platform
Keynote speech by José van Dijck, president KNAW (Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences).

Wikipedia and the Quest for Universal Knowledge
On the historical, cultural and philosophical aspects of Wikipedia. With Charles van den Heuvel, Jos de Mul, Sabine Niederer and Erinç Salor. Moderated by Frank van Vree.

Wikipedia as a Memory Institution. The Limits of the Open Model
On the role of knowledge institutions, freedom of information, public media and copyright. With Victoria Anderica, Phoebe Ayers, Christophe Depreter, Dimitar Dimitrov, Andres Guadamuz, Lucie Guibault, Bregtje van der Haak, Julia Reda and Heijo Ruijsenaars. Moderated by Paul Keller.

The Research Affordances of Wikipedia
On how Wikipedia itself can be a new source for academic research. With Fabian Flöck, Mark Graham, Brent Hecht, Ellen Rutten and Tommaso Venturini. Moderated by Richard Rogers.

Jointly organised by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, University of Amsterdam, European Cultural Foundation and Kennisland.
Entrance free of charge. Registration via KNAW.

Published in Lectures
Jos de Mul. The biotechnological sublime. Lecture at the Vrij Nederland Everything is algorithm session at the Brainwash Festival. Amsterdam, Agnietenkapel, 5PM, October 24, 2015.

Every once in a while we experience something extraordinary, something that lifts you above everyday reality . Such ‘awesome’ experiences might happen when we come across a magnificent landscape, hear a piece of music that really moves us, or when we fall deeply in love. Traditionally these kinds of extraordinary experiences are called “sublime”. In the following I will present some reflections on one particular kind of sublimity: the technological.

I will develop my  argument in three parts. First I will point out the meaning and history of the concept of the sublime. Next, I will argue that in de twentieth century, the sublime has transformed from a natural to a technological category. In the third and last part I will defend the thesis that in the age of sublime algorithms, the  sublime becomes a natural category again, which leaves us with some uncanny questions.

Published in Lectures
Jos de Mul. L’identité de base de données. Identité personnelle et culturelle à l’ère de la mise en données du monde. In Severo Marta & Romele Alberto (eds.) Traces numériques et territoires. Paris: Presses des Mines/ParisTech, 2015, 87-108.

Introduction [1]

Le 27 février 2004, j’ai pris part au débat plutôt passionné qui agitait les Pays-Bas sur le multiculturalisme en publiant un essai dans le NRC Handelsblad, un des grands quotidiens néerlandais [2]. Cet article commençait par la brève description d’une jeune Arabe qui, quelques mois auparavant, passait près de moi glissant sur des rollers dans la station de métro Kralingse Zoom à Rotterdam. Elle semblait être étudiante et se rendre, tout comme moi, à l’Université Érasme. Vêtue d’un sarouel bouffant et d’un t-shirt arborant un smiley, et portant un petit sac à dos, sa tête était couverte d’un foulard d’où dépassait le cordon de l’oreillette de son téléphone portable. Lorsqu’elle fut assez proche de moi, je pus capter quelques bribes de la conversation qu’elle menait, dans cet étrange mélange d’arabe et de néerlandais mâtiné d’un fort accent de Rotterdam, avec une amie, pour autant que je puisse le deviner au ton de la discussion. Pareille image d’une jeune musulmane patinant sur des rollers était assez inattendue en 2004. Pourtant, à en croire un des articles parus récemment sur le site Web de la communauté turque aux Pays-Bas, la pratique du roller connaît un succès grandissant chez les jeunes filles musulmanes néerlandaises [3]. De plus, cette pratique tendrait à gagner en popularité dans des cercles musulmans plus orthodoxes. En avril 2012, les amateurs de patinage artistique en Italie ont eu la faveur de voir Zahra Lari être la première patineuse venue du Golfe à évoluer en niqab.

La raison pour laquelle je commençais mon essai de 2004 par cette image pittoresque d’une jeune musulmane en rollers tenait à ce qu’elle était la proclamation vivante d’une identité personnelle et culturelle dans une société postmoderne. Elle se situait manifestement au-delà de l’opposition qui avait paralysé le débat néerlandais sur le multiculturalisme pendant de nombreuses années, à savoir : l’opposition entre le fait de conserver sa propre identité et celui de s’adapter à la culture néerlandaise. Dans le présent chapitre, je souhaite examiner plus avant l’identité postmoderne à l’aune de deux perspectives tendant à s’entremêler de plus en plus fortement : la globalisation et la mise en données (datafication). Je vais défendre la thèse que notre jeune musulmane de Rotterdam à rollers avec son téléphone portable incarne à la perfection ce type d’identité qui est élaborée par cette mise en données globale, caractéristique de la société postmoderne.

Ce chapitre se décompose en quatre parties. Premièrement, je vais traiter les notions d’identité personnelle et d’identité culturelle, en mettant en relief le rôle crucial des récits narratifs et des traditions. Avec ce contexte en vue, je procéderai à une critique de l’opposition stérile entre multiculturalisme et monoculturalisme, pour défendre au lieu de cela une position interculturaliste. Puis, je distinguerai entre les différents modes par lesquels les traditions sont constitutives respectivement des identités prémodernes, modernes et postmodernes. Dans la dernière partie, je porterai mon attention sur le rôle que joue la mise en données dans la construction d’une identité postmoderne. Je défendrai la thèse que les bases de données, telles que nous les trouvons installées dans les médias sociaux grand public comme Facebook, transforment de plus en plus l’identité narrative des personnes et cultures des âges prémodernes et modernes en ce que l’on pourrait appeler une identité de base de données (database identity). Dans les identités de bases de données, nous trouvons d’un côté certains aspects d’identités narratives radicalisées et, à l’inverse, d’autres aspects qui semblent être transformés en une forme culturelle purement et simplement différente. En lien avec le débat récent sur les big data, et en prenant Facebook comme exemple central, mes réflexions porteront sur certains des avantages et inconvénients de la mise en données et de la corrélationalisation de notre identité.

Published in Book chapters
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Brief CV Jos de Mul

(Prof.dr.) Jos de Mul is full professor Philosophy of Man and Culture at the Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and scientific director of the Research Institute Philosophy of Information and Communication Technology (φICT). He has also taught at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and Fudan University (Shanghai). From 2007-2010 he was president of the International Association for Aesthetics. His book publications include: Romantic Desire in (Post)Modern Art and Philosophy (State University of New York Press, 1999), The Tragedy of Finitude. Dilthey's Hermeneutics of Life (Yale University Press, 2004), Cyberspace Odyssey (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010), and Destiny Domesticated  (State University of New York Press, 2014) He is the winner of the Praemium Erasmianum Research Prize and the Socrates Prize. His work has been translated in more than a dozen languages.