Paniek in de Polder. Polytiek in tijden van populisme

Paniek in de Polder. Polytiek in tijden van populisme

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

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

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

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

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)…

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)…

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.…


Search this website:

Jos de Mul. From open design to metadesign. Keynote lecture at the international conference 3D printing: destiny, doom or dream? eLaw@Leiden, Leiden University, 14 and 15 November, 2013.

In recent years 3D printing has become a hot topic in the media, in industry and in academia. Some claim that 3D printing will enable us to print, rather than buy, all of the products we normally obtain from stores – from clothing and automobile parts to different foods and jewelry. Moreover, with 3D printing we may in the future be able to print organs and tissues, and hence alleviate or solve the suffering of those in need of transplants. With solutions to pressing problems ranging from organ shortages to reducing our environmental footprint through less waste, less transport costs, to more innovation, creativity and personalization some argue that 3D printing is a heavenly destiny indeed.

At the same time, however, there are also critical voices to be heard. First and foremost, while 3D printing has been on the market for some decades now, the public at large has yet to get to know it in practice, let alone to adopt it for their personal production purposes. Techniques and technologies for 3D printing have developed drastically over time, but the mass deployment of this technology is only just picking up momentum. Moreover, research and development with respect to the applications mentioned above – printing your own food or a new organ – are still in their infancy and will probably take decades to come to maturity. These points have led critics to suggest that the big dreams behind 3D printing may turn out to be the hallucinations of a hyped-up new prospect, forever receding over the horizon. 

Finally, 3D printing raises serious social, ethical, regulatory and legal questions. If individuals can print anything they want, how are we going to solve issues of, for example, gun control or intellectual property infringement? What will be the effects of home-printed goods and foods on our economy, on the transport sector, on the worldwide hunt for scarce resources? Does this new technology need regulation, and if so, how will we regulate it, and with which purposes? What is the effect of a level playing field for producing goods on innovation and creativity?

These and many other question will be addressed during the two-day international, multidisciplinary conference ‘3D printing: destiny, doom or dream?, which will take place on 14 and 15 November 2013 at Leiden University’s Law School in the Netherlands. This conference is organised by eLaw, the Centre for Law in the Information Society, and is part of its biannual conference series.



Published in Lectures
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 three approaches Western civilization has tried to tame fate: the heroic affirmation of fate in the tragic culture of the Greeks, the humble acceptance of divine providence in Christianity, and the abolition of fate in modern technological society. Against this background, Jos de Mul argues that the uncontrollability of technology introduces its own tragic dimension to our culture. Considering a range of literary texts and contemporary events, and drawing on twenty-five centuries of tragedy interpretation from philosophers such as Aristotle, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Heidegger, literary critics George Steiner and Terry Eagleton, and others, de Mul articulates a contemporary perspective on the tragic, shedding new light on philosophical topics such as free will, determinism, and the contingency of life.

Hard cover - 358 pages 
$90.00 hc 
ISBN 978-1-4384-4971-5

Electronic - 358 pages
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-4973-9

Paperback - 358 pages
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-4972-2
Release Date: January 2015

SUNY Press
state university of new york press
1-877-204-6073 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. •


“The most important merit of the book is to propose a convincing definition of man and his relation to technology. With regard to the first aspect, de Mul occupies a middle position between the modern philosophies of the subject and the postmodern philosophies which have deconstructed it. As opposed to the Cartesian transparent and self-evident cogito, he argues that there are forces inside and outside man which make us often act against our own expectations. Unlike the contemporary heirs of the masters of suspicion Marx, Nietzsche and Freud, he does not believe that the subject is a mere illusion. The tragic definition of the subject is halfway between these two exaggerations. The tragic man is at the same time powerful and powerless, autonomous and limited, strong and fragile, and there is a surprising continuity between the ancient Greek man and the contemporary human being. Maybe the truth is that we have always been tragic – we have never been modern – but for a long period we have acted as if it was the case. As regards our relation to technology, too, de Mul’s position is halfway between two extremes. In contrast to a certain – especially continental – philosophy of technology of the twentieth century, represented by authors like Heidegger, Ellul, and Marcuse, he does not think that technology is intrinsically destructive forman. Yet it does not mean that technology is simply neutral, according to him. The tragic man deals with technology without unjustified fear, but he is aware of its power.

Thanks to this clear perspective, the text can have a relevant role in the contemporary philosophical debate on technology. Although it was originally published in Dutch in 2006, its ideas are current more than ever.”

Alberto Romele


Published in Books

 约斯·德·穆尔 著,吕和应译:《有限性的悲剧:狄尔泰的生命释义学》,上海:上海三联书店出版社2013年版

作者: 约斯·德·穆尔 [荷] Jos de Mul 
出版社: 上海三联书店
副标题: 狄尔泰的生命释义学
原作名: The Tragedy of Finitude. Dilthey's Hermeneutics of Life
译者: 吕和应 
出版年: 2013-5
页数: 440
定价: 58.00元
装帧: 平装
丛书: 上海三联人文经典书库
ISBN: 9787542638014

One of the founders of modern hermeneutics, German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911) confronted the question of how modern, postmetaphysical human beings can cope with the ambivalence, contingency, and finitude that fundamentally characterize their lives. This book offers a reevaluation and fresh analysis of Dilthey’s hermeneutics of life against the background of the development of philosophy during the past two centuries.

Jos de Mul relates Dilthey’s work to other philosophers who influenced or were influenced by him, including Kant, Schleiermacher, Hegel, Comte, Mill, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer, and Derrida. Weaving together systematic analysis and historical investigation, de Mul begins the book with an account of the horizon on which Dilthey developed his unfinished masterwork, Critique of Historical Reason. The author then elaborates a systematic reconstruction of Dilthey’s ontology of life, relates the ontology to the work of other twentieth-century philosophers, and positions Dilthey’s thought within current philosophical debate.

Jos de Mul is full professor in philosophical anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Winner of the Praemium Erasmianum Research Prize.

"A thorough, insightful account of Dilthey's philosophy, this book offers many valuable new contributions. De Mul argues effectively for Dilthey's relevance today" 
Rudolf Makkreel, Emory University, Atlanta

 "De Mul is an ambitious commentator. He reconstructs both biography and cultural context, and he interprets virtually all of Dilthey's more substantial writings while seeking to engage with his critics. In addition to extensive discussions of Dilthey's own writings, there are long sections on Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Husserl, Gadamer, and Derrida. In a book that may stand as one of the best and most thorough in the recent critical literature on Dilthey, de Mul successfully tackles all of these challenges"

Espen Hammer, The Review of Metaphysics 60:4 (2007)  Read entire review

In an era of heightened existential vulnerability and awareness of finitude there is a correspondingly heightened need for new contexts of human understanding. Here we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to de Mul for providing us with a superb explication of the thought of Wilhelm Dilthey, whose precocious insights into the finitude and historical contingency of human understanding promise to contribute immeasurably to the widening of its horizons. 

Robert D. Stolorow, Human Studies. A Journal for Philosophy and the Social Sciences (2012) Read entire review Most Helpful Customer Reviews

This work by de Mul is the definitive synthesis on Dilthey available in English. It not only develops the thought of Dilthey chronologically, it also sets his thought in an overall structure that he terms the Critique. This structure solves one of the major problems of Dilthey studies - how to organize his disparate thoughts when no definitive work of his exists. Until this book, most other treatments, while helpful and informative, have not managed to rise to the precision and clarity of this work.

One of most helpful aspects to this book is the author's ability to locate and identify the tensions in Dilthey and provide the structure that is needed to understand them. By describing how ambivalence, contingency, and finitude serve as structuring ideas to Dilthey's thought, the author saves a reader from finding Dilthey contradictory and incomprehensible.

One final aspect of praise for this work is the clarity of thought and writing. A helpful and detailed Table of Contents allows any reader to quickly discover the argument and structure of the book. In addition, most esoteric and technical terms and ideas (including many 19th Century German philosophical concepts) are explained quickly and understandably in a way that allows one unfamiliar with these ideas to follow. These explanations, however, do not sidetrack the argument from its purpose and therefore do not prove distracting to one more familiar with the history and ideas referenced.

In conclusion, after having read many works on Dilthey, I find this to be the clearest, most informative, and best written of them all. Not only will it introduce one to a great philosopher, it will also provide a synthesis of his thought that is invaluable.


Published in Books
Jos de Mul and Renée van de Vall (eds.). Gimme Shelter. Global Discourses in Aesthetics. International Yearbook of Aesthetics. Vol. 15. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2013.

Gimme Shelter. Global discourses in aesthetics contains a series of reflections on the impact of globalization on the arts and the aesthetic reflection on the arts. The authors – fifteen distinguished  aestheticians from all over the world -   discuss a variety of aesthetic questions brought forth by the aforementioned process of globalization. How do artistic practices and aesthetic experiences change in response to these developments? How should we articulate these changes on the theoretical level? When reflections on the significance of art and aesthetic experiences can no longer pretend to be universal, is it still possible to lay claim to  a wider validity than merely that of one’s own particular culture? What type of vocabulary allows for mutual – dialogical or even polylogical – exchanges and understandings when different traditions meet, without obliterating local differences? Is there a possibility for a creative re-description of globalization? And is there a meaning of ‘the global’ that cannot be reduced to universalism and unification? Can we seek shelter in a legitimate way?

Free download of the entire book (Open Access edition)


Published in Books
Jos de Mul, Forever online? Een socratische monoloog over de sociale media. Biddinghuizen: Lowlands, 17 augustus 2013.

Steeds meer mensen brengen steeds meer tijd door op de sociale media. Doen we daar wel goed aan? Met een verwijzing naar Plato's bespreking van de sociale media uit zijn tijd (het toen in opmars zijnde schrift) zal Jos de Mul ingaan op het nut en het nadeel van de sociale media voor ons leven.


Published in Lectures
Jos de Mul, RayFish Footwear, or the age of the biotechnological sublime. 19th International Congress of Aesthetics. Krakow: Jagiellonian University, July 23, 2013.

The notion of the sublime, which since the nineteenth century is one of the dominant aesthetic categories, is strongly connected with (the artistic representation of) overwhelming nature. In my talk I will argue that in the course of the 20th century the sublime increasingly becomes entangled with the experience of technology. However, in the age of biotechnologies, such as genetic modification and synthetic biology, the sublime regains a natural dimension. Illustrated by RayFish Footware and some other striking examples of recent 'bio-art' it will be argued that in the age of biotechnology the difference between nature, technology and art will gradually vanish, and new dimensions of the sublime will become manifest.



Published in Lectures
Jos de Mul. Playful Identities: From Narrative to Ludic Self-Construction. Lecture and chair of the Playful Identities Panel at the international conference Paul Ricoeur and the Future of the Humanities.University of Groningen.

Jos de Mul: Playful Identities: From Narrative to Ludic Self-Construction

The aim of the interdisciplinary (conceptual-philosophical, media-theoretical, and qualitative empirical) Playful Identities (NWO) program (2005-2011) was to investigate if, and if so, to what extent and in what way, digital information and communication technologies are transforming the (construction of) personal and cultural identity. To that end we’ve developed a theory of ludic identity that critically elaborates on Ricoeur's theory of narrative identity. In this theory play and games are not only appropriate metaphors for human identity, but they are also conceived of as means by which people reflexively construct their identity.  In his presentation, Jos de Mul will sketch the outlines of this theory of ludic identity, against the background of which the other panelists, who all participated in the research program, will present some of the research projects in more detail.

Published in Lectures
Jos de Mul. The biotechnological sublime. From nature to technology and back. Princeton Institute for Advanced Study. The Institute Letter. Spring 2013, 17.

Many things are awesome, but none more awesome than man.


Every once in a while we experience something extraordinary. Such ‘awesome’ experiences might happen in our research, when we unexpectedly discover something really amazing, or 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 sublime.

Jos de Mul. Destiny Domesticated, or Five Not-So-Easy Ways to Tame Fate, in Frank van der Stok (ed.). Daan Paans: Letters of Utopia. Breda: The Eriskay Connection, 2013, 145-157.

Fate. Sooner or later it knocks at everyone’s door. In many different ways. It can enter our lives gradually in the guise of an incurable disease or spring on us suddenly in the guise of an unexpected oncoming car in our lane. It can befall us from the outside like a devastating tsunami, or loom up from within like an all-consuming jealousy. Fate can happen unintentionally, or be done to us – or another person – on purpose. It comes in the horrible guise of war and the intoxicating appeal of an addiction. It is painful when it happens to us, and often even more painful when it befalls someone we love. Without wanting it our frail happiness is continuously interrupted by fatal events. And even when we are lucky enough to avoid grand catastrophes in our lives, in the end we inevitably lose our loved ones and we, ourselves die. While fate inescapably befalls us we find it hard to bear that thought. It is a burden that we cannot carry, but that we also cannot shed.

Published in Book chapters
Jos de Mul. Gast inSchepper & Co aan Tafel. Gezocht: bezielde leiders voor gezagscrisis, uitgezonden op 11 maart 2013.


Het vertrouwen in gezag heeft op verschillende plekken in onze samenleving flinke deuken opgelopen. Bankiers graaien, bestuurders frauderen, wetenschappers verdraaien feiten en ook de kerk mist autoriteit.Hoe kan een leider dat gezag en vertrouwen op een geloofwaardige manier herstellen?Jacobine Geel ontvangt godsdienstpsycholoog Joke van Saane. Zij schreef een boek over geloofwaardig leiderschap. Volgens filosoof Jos de Mul laten leiders te veel hun oren hangen naar de publieke opinie. En Marcel Wintels, die als interim-bestuurder orde op zaken stelde bij onderwijsinstelling Amarantis, vertelt over het belang van betrokkenheid en bezieling.Schepper &Co aan tafel is een NCRV programma over actuele ontwikkelingen rondom levensbeschouwing en spiritualiteit. Een programma over mensen en de manier waarop zij in het leven staan.De tv-uitzending is elke maandag om 17:09 op Nederland 2 te zien.


Klik op de afbeelding om het programma te bekijken.
Published in Interviews / tv
Page 7 of 11