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…

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)…

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…

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.…


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Jos de Mul. The Earth Garden: Going Back or Going Forward to Nature? Frontiers of Philosophy in China. Vol.12 (2017) 2: 237-248.

Abstract Against the background of a short meditation on the contrasting ways in which landscape has been represented and idealized in Eastern and Western painting traditions, the article will try to show, using some striking examples, that the development of landscape painting in the last two centuries reflects the changing relationship of humanity and nature, leading in both the East and in the West to either the expression of a nostalgic longing for nature to be back as it once was, or to a gloomy expression of the vanishing of nature amidst the modern, technological world. Connecting to both the concept of “harmony,” which is a key concept in Eastern aesthetics, and to some recent reflections in Western philosophy on the relationship of nature and technology, a post-nostalgic conception of nature and natural beauty is defended, in which nature and technology are no longer seen as opposing categories, but rather as poles that are intertwined in an ever-lasting process of co-evolution. It is argued that we should not so much strive to go “back to nature,” but rather to go “forward to nature” and establish a new harmony between human and non-human nature and technology. The article ends with some reflections on the role artists and aestheticians may play in this transformation.

Keywords environmental pollution, environmental aesthetics, philosophy of nature, comparative aesthetics, philosophy of technology

Jos de Mul. Turkish Delight. In: Ayşen Savaş & Sevin Osmay (eds.), Jale Erzen Testimonial. Middle East  Technical University (METU) Press, 2017, 146-152.

Of all the times I met with Jale Erzen over the last couple of decades, our meeting in May 2002 was perhaps the most memorable. Jale had invited me to take part in the 6th International Symposium of SANART about Art and Social Engagement, held at the Middle East Technical University (METU). The Symposium took place shortly after 9/11, a time when many heated discussions were held in Turkey, just as in other countries, about the political Islam, the role of religion in society, and the separation of church and state, and in Ankara the tension was running high between the Kemalists and the politicians inspired by the Islam.  

Following the conference, I went on a short trip with Jale and about ten other philosophers, from five different continents, to the east of Turkey, which was planned by Jale. We flew to Diyarbakir and then travelled on by bus and later by jeep through the northern part of the virtual state of Kurdistan. It was a memorable trip because of several reasons. In the first place because of the awe-inspiring endless bleak mountains around us, in which the only humans living there seem to be goatherds herding their flocks in search of the last remnants of vegetation. It was difficult to imagine a bigger contrast with the polders in Zeeland where I grew up.  The impression the vast and rugged landscape made on me was intensified by the realisation that we were surrounded by thousands of years of history. This vast region situated 'between the rivers', the Euphrates and the Tigris, used to be called Mesopotamia in ancient times and was full of fig-, olive-, walnut- and pomegranate trees, vines and oleander bushes. According to tradition here was once the Biblical Garden of Eden.

Published in Book chapters
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: Sanlian, 2017, xiv-xvi, xvii-xx.




Published in Book chapters
Jos de Mul. Preface. In: Zha Changping. World Relational Aesthetics. A History of Ideas in Pioneering Contemporary Chinese Art. Volume One. Shanghai: Sanlian, 2017, xiv-xvi, xvii-xx.

In 2006, as part of a lecture tour through China, which brought me to cities as different as Urumqi and Shanghai, I also participated in a conference of the International Association of Aesthetics in Chengdu. It was on this occasion that I met Zha Changping for the first time. I was introduced to him by a common friend of us, the Shanghai-based historian Chen Xin. During my stay in Chengdu, Changping and I had several conversations, and I especially remember one hot evening in June, whenwe, together with museum sculptor Zhu Cheng and my wife Gerry, were sitting on a terrace near the Fu river, discussing the state of contemporary art, religion and politics in China and Europe, meanwhile enjoying the delicious Sichuan food and cool beers and watching the joyful play of the little children on the terrace. It was a wonderful evening, to which my memories often return.

Since that first meeting more than ten years have passed, in which Changping and I kept in touch. I followed his publications (unfortunately only being able to read the English ones, as I am not able to read Chinese) and was impressed by his productivity andthe broad scope of his publications, ranging from art criticism and art history – such as the very informative Up-On Chengdu, Somatic Aesthetics and Scene Connection (2013) - to studies in the logic of history, Japanese history, New Testament studies, and a series of translations. What moreover impressed me was his profound familiarity with Western art theories and the creative way he applied them within a Chinese context. Changping proved to be all-round humanities scholar with an inspiring intercultural approach.

Published in Book chapters
Sunday, 15 October 2017 17:12

Human nature after Neo-Darwinism

Jos de Mul. Human nature after Neo-Darwinism. in: Eidos .A Journal for Philosophy of Culture.Special issue: Is the Category of Human Nature Still Relevant? Vol 1 (2017), 1: 5-17. 



In the course of the 20th century the so-called Modern Synthesis of Neo-Darwinism has become the dominant paradigm in modern biology. First, it is explained how and why Darwin’s broad definition of evolution, in which the environment plays an important role, was narrowed down by Neo-Darwinism to a radical gene-centric view.  Next, the paradigm shift taking place today in ‘postgenomic’ evolutionary biology and genetics is discussed. It is argued that this shift opens the way to a more humane conception of evolution, more in line with Darwin’s view. Finally, I will discuss some of the implications of this paradigm shift for human self-reflection, taking The Music of Life. Biology Beyond Genes of systems biologist Denis Noble as a starting point.


Neo-Darwinism, Dennis Noble, gene-centrism, postgenomics, agency, human self-reflection

Jos de Mul. From Yijing to Hypermedia: Some Notes on Computer-mediated Literary Theory and Criticism. In: Peng Feng (ed.), Aesthetics and Contemporary Art. International Yearbook of Aesthetics. Volume 16. Beijing University: 2016, 114-125.

The development and global dissemination of computers - from the mainframe computers in the middle of the 20th century up to the smart phones that enable us to be online everywhere at any time - has an enormous impact on virtually every domain in human life, including art and literature. In the past decades, we have witnessed the emergence of different kinds of new media, that – among many other things – also have given birth to new art forms and genres, such as computer animations, hypertext, and interactive netart. All these new (that is: computer-mediated) media can be called “hypermedia”, because they share two fundamental characteristics: they are media that are both multimedial and non-linear.

In this contribution I will discuss the impact of hypermedia on literary theory and criticism. More particularly, the question I will focus on in my lecture is: how to write about hypermedia? In what ways do hypermedia affect literary theory and literary criticism. However, when writing about hypermedia, literature can only be a point of departure of our examination. After all, hypermedia are media that absorb and thereby re-mediate the other “old media”, literature included.[1] And this, as I will argue, also applies to literary theory and literary criticism, which at least partly is going to be transformed into hypermedial criticism.

Published in Book chapters
Geert Maarse. Panic in the Polder. Interview with Jos de Mul. Erasmus Today, March 28, 2017.

Panic in the Polder or how the Netherlands can survive populism. Days before the Dutch elections professor Jos de Mul spoke on Erasmus Studio, presenting his book ‘Paniek in de polder’ (Panic in the Polder) in which he analyses the so called fight between ‘the people’ and ‘the elites’. He also explains the popularity of Donald Trump and Geert Wilders among populist voters. The question is: who are these populists? And is our democracy in crisis?

Published in Online publications
约斯·德·穆尔:《从开放设计到元设计——3D打印数据库本体的冲击》,《社会科学战线》2014年第10期。[Jos de Mul, From open design to metadesign. Social Science Front, no.10, 2014, 248-254]

国外社会科学从开放设计到元设计(metadesign)  ——3D打印数据库本体的冲击


(伊拉斯谟大学哲学系,荷兰鹿特丹 3062PA)



3D打印作为一项备受关注的技术,其令人咋舌的功能在医疗、工业、生活领域内引起的巨大变革已经使我们不得不持续对其关注和思考。3D 技术在法律、监管、社会、政治以及经济模型创新等方面都已经有了不同理论维度的探讨。在这篇文章里,我将不同于以往的讨论,从另外一个角度——设计,特别是开放设计(open design)的角度来讨论3D打印的问题。

在Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing[1]这本书中,Lipson和Kurman认为“3D技术是我们设计和制作东西的方式的一场革命”,因为它把一个物体的软件设计和它的实物显示(physical manifestation)之间的关系变得异常紧密。[2]尽管我认为在信息与通讯技术(ICT)世界里,当说起革命一词,我们应该多少有所怀疑,但是,很明显,3D技术在很多领域都有前途,而且,因其开放的特点(至少在一些方面是)而对传统设计实践提出了挑战。

接下来,我将讨论数据库本体(database ontology)的蕴意,这种数据库本体表征着我们当今设计界。我将要强调,为了发展开放设计的积极一面而不落陷阱,设计者不应该轻易放弃作为设计者的活动,而且更应该重新设计这些活动。未来的设计者不得不成为一个数据设计者,一个元设计者,他们不是设计一种客体对象,而是设计一个空间,在这个空间里,没有技巧的使用者可以通过使用者友好界面(user-friendly)设计自己的东西。

3D打印可以看作设计界的一个发展,它使设计行为的重新定义成为必要。2010年阿姆斯特丹重新定义设计大会[3]的宣传词中对开放设计的状况描述道:“设计工业正在经历着根本性的改变。开放设计、可下载的设计和分散的设计使得设计工业民主化,也意味着任何人都可以成为设计者和制造者。”这则消息的潜在意思似乎是说,开放设计,本质上是好的,我们应该发展它。(为了简略,我用open design 这个词来总括之前提到的那些设计界的发展,包括了可下载的、分散的设计以及重组模块使设计变得个性化,并用3D在家里或街角的专业商店打印出来)。尽管我对开放设计(或者任你管它叫什么)总体上持积极的态度,但是我认为还是应该注意这进程中的困难和陷阱,以避免我们会犯那种将孩子和洗澡水一起泼出去的错误。


正像“开放运动”(open movement)的其他成员一样,开放设计在很大程度上与个人电脑和互联网紧密相关(我们将会看到,开放运动包括多个运动,比如开放软件资源、开放科学、开放科技等。特别是开放生物学运动,是开放运动中一个很有意思的例子)。由于这个原因,为了能够对开放设计的机遇和陷阱都看得更清楚,我们应该研究一下数字领域(digital domain)的基本特点。因此,在论文第二部分,我会简要描述数据库本体,它是计算机的基础(ABCD of computing),也是数字领域的基础。



Jos de Mul. Database Identity. Invited lecture at the Herrenhausen conference Society through the Lens of the Digital. Hannover, May 31-June 2, 2017.

New information and communication technologies are changing the very nature of human identity. In my talk, I will argue that they facilitate a change from narrative to a database identity. Narrative identity is what has traditionally defined people. A narrative identity can be complex, multilayered and dynamic, but it is strung out over a spatio-temporal continuum and has a certain logic and coherence through time. It forms a tissue of stories that makes a person, defining who she is. This narrative identity is being giving way, increasingly, to a database identity. With a database identity a person’s experience, qualities and characteristics all become entries in a database. These can be called up, assembled and re-assembled in never-ending set of combinations. Database identity is a post-modernization of identity. It is a playful pastiche of qualities and characteristics, decoupled from their context of origin and from their role in a person’s history.

Published in Lectures
Wednesday, 08 March 2017 14:34

What is Data?

Jos de Mul. Théo van Doesburg 2.0. What is Data? In: Mieke Gerritzen et al. From Dada to Data. Breda: Museum of the Image (MOTI), 2016, 23.

théo van doesburg 2.0: What is Data? (Publisher: “No Style” The Hague, 2023).


You will probably be surprised to be hearing something about Data from someone who is innocent of Dataism, from a non- Dataist

Data: the terror of the stock market gurus, of the privacy seeker, the designer, the cultural entrepreneur, the Gutmensch — of everybody?

A subject such as this is perhaps least suitable for a serious lecture, which is not at all what I have in mind.

I will be satisfied if, as an obligation to friends, I can illuminate the Dataistic attitude to life. This seems to me especially important in a country that has been hermetically sealed against any new expression of life since the 60s.

It would indeed be pretentious if I was under the impression that I could make the mystery of Data intellectually intelligible.

Published in Book chapters
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