Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.

Marxism according to Groucho     "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog…

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Horizons of Hermeneutics

Horizons of Hermeneutics

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

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Plessner's Philosophical Anthropology. Perspectives and Prospects

Plessner's Philosophical Anthropology. Perspectives and Prospects

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

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Romantic Desire in (Post)Modern Art and Philosophy

Romantic Desire in (Post)Modern Art and Philosophy

Jos de Mul. Romantic Desire in (Post)Modern Art and Philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999, 316 p.…

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Cyberspace Odyssey. Towards a Virtual Ontology and Anthropology

Cyberspace Odyssey. Towards a Virtual Ontology and Anthropology

Jos de Mul. Cyberspace Odyssey. Towards a Virtual Ontology and Anthropology. Castle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010, 334 p. Translation of Cyberspace…

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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…

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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…

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The Tragedy of Finitude. Dilthey's Hermeneutics of Life

The Tragedy of Finitude. Dilthey's Hermeneutics of Life

Jos de Mul. The Tragedy of Finitude. Dilthey's Hermeneutics of Life. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010 (second edition - eBook), 424…

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

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

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

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序言 约斯·德·穆尔 In: Zha Changping. World Relational Aesthetics. A History of Ideas in Pioneering Contemporary Chinese Art

序言 约斯·德·穆尔 In: Zha Changping. World Relational Aesthetics. A History of Ideas in Pioneering Contemporary Chinese Art

序言 约斯·德·穆尔. In: Zha Changping. World Relational Aesthetics. A History of Ideas in Pioneering Contemporary Chinese Art. Volume One. Shanghai:…

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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.…

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The game of life

The game of life

Jos de Mul. The Game of Life: Narrative and Ludic Identity Formation in Computer Games.  In: Lori Way (ed.), Representations of…

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Noble versus Dawkins. DNA Is not the program of the concert of life.

Noble versus Dawkins. DNA Is not the program of the concert of life.

Jos de Mul. Noble versus Dawkins. DNA Is not the program of the concert of life. Translation of Dutch review, published…

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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 (Chinese translation of Destiny Domesticated. The Rebirth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Technology). Guilin:…

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Jos de Mul. The Emergence of Practical Self-Understanding. Human Agency and Downward Causation in Plessner’s Philosophical Anthropology. In: Human Studies, December 2018 (DOI: 10.1007/s10746-018-09483-2)

Abstract Helmuth Plessner’s Levels of Organic Life and the Human [Die Stufen des Organischen und der Mensch, 1928] is one of the founding texts of twentieth century philosophical anthropology (understood as philosophical reflection on the fundamental characteristics of the human lifeform). It is argued that Plessner’s work demonstrates the fundamental indispensability of the qualitative humanities vis-à-vis the naturalscientific study of man. Plessner’s non-reductionist, emergentist naturalism allots complementary roles to the causal and functional investigations of the life sciences and the phenomenological and hermeneutic interpretation of the phenomenon of life in its successive levels and stages. Within this context, human agency can be understood as a higher-order property of organic life, which act by the selective activation of lower-level psychophysical powers. Plessner’s three ‘anthropological laws’ are used to situate the notion of practical self-understanding in between two extremes: deterministic views that deny human freedom and responsibility and views that ascribe an unrealistic amount of autonomy to human beings.

Keywords Helmuth Plessner · Philosophical anthropology · Non-reductionist naturalism · Emergentism · Downward causation · Human agency · Practical selfunderstanding

Jos de Mul. Polyzentrizität und Poly(ex)zentrizität: neue Stufen der Positionalität? Zu Telerobotern, Craniopagus-Zwillingen und globalen Gehirnen. In: A. Henkel & G. Lindemann (Hrsg.) Mensch und Welt im Zeichen der Digitalisierung. Baden Baden: Nomos, 2019, 187-207.

In diesem Kapitel untersuche Ich die Möglichkeit einer nächsten Stufe der Positionalität jenseits der Stufe der exzentrischen Positionalität, wie sie Plessner in Die Stufen des Organischen und der Mensch eingeführt hat. Ich stelle zwei mögliche Kandidaten für eine nächste Positionalitätsstufe vor. Die erste Möglichkeit betrifft telerobotic experiences (telerobotische Erfahrungen), über die Howard Rheingold in seinem Buch Virtual Reality von 1995 berichtete und auf die ich in meinem Freiburger Vortrag von 2000 zurückgegriffen hatte. Entsprechende telerobotische Experimente wurden in jüngerer Zeit von Wissenschaftlern wie dem japanischen Roboterforscher Hiroshi Ishiguro in seinen Experimenten mit geminoiden Robotern noch systematischer und detaillierter fortgeführt – mit androiden Robotern, die existierenden Personen gleichen, im Falle von Ishiguro ihm selbst. In diesem Kontext werde ich diese künstlichen Formen der Polyzentrizität zudem mit deren natürlichem Gegenstück vergleichen: der sogenannten Schwarmintelligenz (hive mind) sozialer Insekten. Als zweiten Kandidaten einer möglichen nächsten Positionalitätsstufe
werde ich die sogenannten Craniopagus-Zwillinge diskutieren. Es handelt sich dabei um Zwillinge, die an Kopf und Gehirn verbunden sind. Weil sie so Teile des Thalamus teilen (einen Bereich des Gehirns, der für das Bewusstsein eine wichtige Rolle spielt), sind sie in der Lage, wechselseitig ihre Gedanken zu lesen. Obwohl Craniopagus-Zwillinge ein sehr seltenes Naturphänomen sind, könnte die Form von Positionalität, die sich in ihnen ausdrückt, als Vorreiter jener künstlicher Formen poly(ex)zentrischer Positionalität angesehen werden, die die Form künstlicher Thalamus-Brücken (artifical thalamic bridges) annehmen. Diese könnten ein zentrales Element in der Konstruktion sogenannter globaler Gehirne sein und eine menschliche Schwarmintelligenz begleiten.

Published in Book chapters
Jos de Mul.  Leben erfaßt hier Leben: Dilthey as a philosopher of (the) life (sciences). In: Eric Nelson (ed.). Interpreting Dilthey. Cambridge University Press., 41-60. Publication date: March 2019).

Eric Nelson (ed.). Interpreting Dilthey

In this wide-ranging and authoritative volume, leading scholars engage with the philosophy and writings of Wilhelm Dilthey, a key figure in nineteenth-century thought. Their chapters cover his innovative philosophical strategies and explore how they can be understood in relation to their historical situation, as well as presenting incisive interpretations of Dilthey's arguments, including their development, their content, and their influence on later thought. A key focus is on how Dilthey's work remains relevant to current debates around art and literature, the biographical and autobiographical self, knowledge, language, science, culture, history, society, and psychology and the embodied mind. The volume will be important for researchers in hermeneutics, aesthetics, practical philosophy, and the history of German philosophy, providing a valuable introduction to Dilthey's work as well as detailed critical analysis of its ongoing significance.

Published in Book chapters
Klaartje Jaspers. Will artificial intelligence create a shared supermind? Interview with philosophical anthropologist Jos de Mul. Newsroom Erasmus University. June 11, 2018.

Will robots outsmart humans? Erasmus philosophical anthropologist Jos de Mul thinks such beliefs show a gross overestimation of the capacities of robots. Self-replicating robots could take over, he thinks, but they would be inferior to their human counterpart. Instead of robots taking over, De Mul believes humans might develop like bees: sharing their individual psyche to form a shared supermind.

‘Plato was scared of the ability to read and write. He thought script would be a dead memory without the ability to think creatively. In the same way people now are scared of computers. But script and computers are just means, extensions of ourselves, allowing us to do certain things better.’ No, Jos de Mul is not scared of robots and algorithms, but he is urging us to think carefully about how we use them.

Zillions of neurons united

The fear that robots could become autonomous is justified, but they will not be superior in their intellect for a long time to come, De Mul believes. ‘Perhaps they can beat us at chess but they have had trouble learning how to walk up stairs or recognise faces. That’s not so strange, if you realise the human brain has billions of neurons, and so far we haven’t even managed to simulate the complete network of a species with very few neurons, like the Caenorhabditis elegans – a roundworm.’

Imagine what would happen if we could put all our neurons together. We’re already heading towards such a ‘swarm mind’, De Mul emphasises. ‘It’s already happening when you buy a book online and the computer suggests titles that other buyers of that book have bought. Amazon recently got a patent on an algorithm that can predict what book is going to be sold where, so they can send it before you realise you want it. “Anticipatory shipping”, they call it.’

 Floortje Scheepers,  Jos de Mul,  Frits Boer and  Witte Hoogendijk. Psychosis as an evolutionary adaptive mechanism to changing environments. Frontiers of Psychiatry, Volume  9,  June 2018.

Background: From an evolutionary perspective it is remarkable that psychotic disorders, mostly occurring during fertile age and decreasing fecundity, maintain in the human population.

Aim: To argue the hypothesis that psychotic symptoms may not be viewed as an illness but as an adaptation phenomenon, which can become out of control due to different underlying brain vulnerabilities and external stressors, leading to social exclusion.

Methods: A literature study and analysis.

Results: Until now, biomedical research has not unravelld the definitive etiology of psychotic disorders. Findings are inconsistent and show non-specific brain anomalies and genetic variation with small effect sizes. However, compelling evidence was found for a relation between psychosis and stressful environmental factors, particularly those influencing social interaction. Psychotic symptoms may be explained as a natural defense mechanism or protective response to stressful environments. This is in line with the fact that psychotic symptoms most often develop during adolescence. In this phase of life, leaving the familiar, and safe home environment and building new social networks is one of the main tasks. This could cause symptoms of “hyperconsciousness” and calls on the capacity for social adaptation.

Conclusions: Psychotic symptoms may be considered as an evolutionary maintained phenomenon.Research investigating psychotic disorders may benefit from a focus on underlying general brain vulnerabilities or prevention of social exclusion, instead of psychotic symptoms.

Keywords: psychosis, evolution, adaptation, social exclusion, defense mechanism

Jos de Mul. Encyclopedias, hive minds and global brains.A cognitive evolutionary account of Wikipedia. In: Alberto Romele and Enrico Terrone (eds.) Towards a Philosophy of Digital Media. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, 103-119.

This book uses the conceptual tools of philosophy to shed light on digital media and on the way in which they bear upon our existence. At the turn of the century, the rise of digital media significantly changed our world. The digitizing of traditional media has extraordinarily increased the circulation of texts, sound, and images. Digital media have also widened our horizons and altered our relationship with others and with ourselves.

Information production and communication are still undoubtedly significant aspects of digital media and life. Recently, however, recording, registration and keeping track have taken the upper hand in both online practices and the imaginaries related to them. The essays in this book therefore focus primarily on the idea that digital media involve a significant overlapping between communication and recording. 

 

Published in Book chapters
城市花园,回归还是走向自然 作者:约斯德·穆尔鹿特丹伊拉斯姆斯大学 译者: 寒啸,武汉大学,城市设计学院,设计学硕士 女士们先生们 [The Earth Garden: Going Back or Going Forward to Nature? In: Chen, W. (ed.) Beautiful China and Environmental Aesthetics, Wuhan: Wuhan University Press], 2018, 346-350.

 首先,我要感谢主办方,特别是陈望衡教授能邀请我在“环境美学和美丽的中国”会议上发言。这些都是非常重要和具有挑战性的学科,美丽的环境,特别是中国的环境,正面临着严重的威胁。在工业化的西方世界和像中国这样快速发展的国家现代化造成了非常严重的环境问题。因为在过去十年间中国工业化的惊人速度增长,中国的环境问题在世界上属于最糟糕的了。如果我们做个比较,例如世界上主要空气污染的工业区——东亚、欧洲以及北美,将变得非常清楚的是环境问题属于当今中国面临的最大问题,武汉亦是如此。据中华医学协会前任会长钟南山表示,空气污染甚至可能在不久的将来成为中国最大的健康威胁。

在我今天的演讲中,我想提出一些艺术、哲学以及与美学相关学科的看法,这些看法可能会有助于解决这些严重的环境问题。当然,我充分意识到这样一个事实就是艺术家和哲学家不去减少工厂排放和汽车尾气的绘画和写作。然而,两者都可以通过灌输思想和激动人心的想象力去改变人们的态度和行为,并且最终都可能领导一个更加健康、更加美丽的世界。在我的演讲中,我希望通过结合一些源自东方和西方艺术和哲学中卓有成效的思想来为这一任务尽一份微薄之力。

让我对自己的演讲做一个简短的概述。第一部分包括一个在对比的方式上的简短冥想,景观已经在东方和西方的绘画传统中被代表和理想化了。我将尝试用一些引人注目的例子去表明在过去两个世纪里山水画的发展反映了人与自然关系的改变,导致无论是在东方还是西方怀旧的渴望回归自然的表达,亦或是在现代,技术的世界中消失的自然的一种阴郁的表达。I

在我演讲的第二部分,联系“和谐” 这一关键的东方美学概念,以及在西方哲学中自然与技术的关系的一些思考,我会请求不同的后怀旧的自然和自然美的概念,自然和技术不再被视为对立的类别,而是因为在一个共同进化的过程中相互交织的两极。因为这个原因,我们不应该努力去“回归自然”, 而是要去“面对自然”并且在人与非人类自然与技术之间建立新的和谐关系。

在第三部分和最后一个部分,我会给一些例子来说明这种后怀旧的自然观怎样在包括中国以及世界其他地区引导我们走向一个更健康和美丽的环境的。

Published in Book chapters
Bruno Accarino, Jos de Mul und Hans-Peter Krüger (Hrsg.). Internationales Jahrbuch für Philosophische Anthropologie. Band 7 / International Yearbook for Philosophical Anthropology. Volume 7. Thomas Ebke und Alexy Zhavoronkov (Hrsg.). Nietzsche und die Anthropologie. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017, 356 p.

Im Zentrum dieses Buches stehen die Fragen nach der systematischen Gestalt von  Friedrich Nietzsches Anthropologie und nach Nietzsches  Effekten  auf die philosophische Anthropologie. Im gegensatz zu der langen tonangebenden antrianthropologischen  Tradition der Nietzsche-Deutung soll der Band Impulse zu einer Lektüre von Nietzsche als einen anthropologisch sensiblen Denker setzen.

Published in Books
Jos de Mul. Encyclopedias, hive minds and global brains A cognitive evolutionary account of Wikipedia. 立命館言語文化研究29巻3号. Ritsumeikan Studies in Language and Culture. Volume 29, no.3 (2018), 143-153.

 

Abstract

Wikipedia, the crowd-sourced, hypermedial encyclopedia, available in more  than  290 languages and  consisting  of  no  less  than  40 million  lemmas,  is  often  hailed  as  a  successful  example  of  the ʻwisdom of  the  crowdsʼ.  However,  critics not only  point  at  the  lack  of  accuracy  and  reliability, uneven coverage of topics, and the poor quality of writing, but also at the under-representation of women and non-white ethnicities. Moreover, some critics regard Wikipedia as an example of the development of  a  hive  mind,  as  we  find  it  in  social insects, whose  ʻmindʼ rather than being a property of individuals is a ʻsocial phenomenonʼ, as it has to be located in the colony rather than in the individual bees. In this article an attempt is made to throw some light on this controversy by analyzing Wikipedia  from  the  perspective  of  the  cognitive  evolution  of  mankind.  Connecting  to Origins  of  the  Modern  Mind (1991) of neuropsychologist Merlin Donald, in which three stages in the cognitive evolution -  characterized by a  mimetic, an linguistic, and an external symbolic cognition  respectively  -  are  distinguished,  it  is  argued  that  the  development  of  the  internet,  and crowd-sourced  projects  like  Wikipedia  in  particular,  can be understood as a fourth, computer- mediated form of cognition. If we survey the cognitive evolution of hominids and the role played in this evolution by cultural and technical artefacts like writing, printing press, computers, and internet, we witness a process of increasing integration of individual minds. With outsourcing and virtualization  of  the  products  and  processes  of  thinking  to  external  memories,  and  the  fast development of implanted computer interfaces, we appear to be at the edge of the materialization of the  hive  mind  in a  ʻglobal brainʼ.  The article ends  with  some  speculative  predictions about the future of human cognition.

Keywords: encyclopedias, Wikipedia, wisdom of the crowds, cognitive evolution, hive mind, global brain

Thursday, 01 February 2018 12:57

Athens, or the Fate of Europe

Jos de Mul. Athens, or the Fate of Europe. Journal of Philosophical Research. Special supplement: Selected Papers from the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy. 2015: 221–227.

 

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

 

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

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

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