Breng mij die horizon! Filosofische reisverhalen

Breng mij die horizon! Filosofische reisverhalen

Jos de Mul. Breng me die horizon! Filosofische reisverhalen. Amsterdam: Boom, 2019.  Breng mij die horizon! laat zien wat er gebeurt…

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De domesticatie van het noodlot. De wedergeboorte van de tragedie uit de geest van de technologie

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Jos de Mul. De domesticatie van het noodlot. De wedergeboorte van de tragedie uit de geest van de technologie. Rotterdam: Lemniscaat,…

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

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

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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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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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Het romantische verlangen in (post)moderne kunst en filosofie

Het romantische verlangen in (post)moderne kunst en filosofie

Jos de Mul. Het romantische verlangen in (post)moderne kunst en filosofie. Uitgeverij Klement, 2007 (4de druk), 284 p. 1de druk, 1990; 2de druk, 1991; 3de…

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后)现代艺术与哲学中的浪漫之欲。Chinese translation of Romantic Desire in (Post)Modern Art and Philosophy

后)现代艺术与哲学中的浪漫之欲。Chinese translation of Romantic Desire in (Post)Modern Art and Philosophy

Jos de Mul. 后)现代艺术与哲学中的浪漫之欲。Chinese translation of Romantic Desire in (Post)Modern Art and Philosophy. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2010, 306p. ISBN 978-7-307-08019-5RMB…

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Cyberspace Odyssee

Cyberspace Odyssee

Jos de Mul. Cyberspace Odyssee. Kampen: Klement, 6de druk: 2010, 352 p. 1de druk, 2002; 2de druk, 2003; 3de druk,2004;…

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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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Siberuzayda macera dolu bir yolculuk. Sanal bir ontoloji ve antropolojiye doğru

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Jos de Mul. Siberuzayda macera dolu bir yolculuk. Sanal bir ontoloji ve antropolojiye doğru. Istanbul: Kitap Yayinevi, 2008, 400 p. Turkish…

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

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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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Paniek in de Polder. Polytiek in tijden van populisme

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

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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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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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PedoBot® is niet boos, maar wel verdrietig (en soms opgewonden)

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Jos de Mul. PedoBot® is niet boos, maar wel verdrietig (en soms opgewonden). Over intelligente robots, emoties en sociale interactie.…

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Kunstmatig van nature. Onderweg naar Homo sapiens 3.0

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Jos de Mul, Kunstmatig van nature. Onderweg naar Homo sapiens 3.0.  Rotterdam: Lemiscaat: 2016. ISBN 978 90 477 0925 1…

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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…

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The Tragedy of Finitude. Dilthey's Hermeneutics of Life

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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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Wittgenstein 2.0. Philosophical reading and writing after the mediatic turn

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

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Plessner's Philosophical Anthropology. Perspectives and Prospects

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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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2016-08-20 (Vrij Nederland) In Japan heeft Erica een ziel

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Jos de Mul. In Japan heeft Erica een ziel. Vrij Nederland, 20 augustus 2016, 41-45. Kansai Science City doet op…

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

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

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

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

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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 Work of Art in the Age of Digital Recombination

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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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zaterdag, 22 november 2014 21:35

‘Aan deze zijde van de utopie’

Jos de Mul, ‘Aan deze zijde van de utopie’. De wijsgerige antropologie van Helmuth Plessner, Inleiding in: Carola Dietze, Helmuth Plessner, leven en werk. Rotterdam: Lemniscaat, 2014.

De Duitse filosoof en socioloog Helmuth Plessner (1892-1985) is een van de boeiendste intellectuelen uit de twintigste eeuw. Hij leverde een essentiële bijdrage aan de wijsgerige antropologie en de sociologie. Tijdens de Weimarrepubliek keerde Plessner zich tegen de radicale ideologieën van links en rechts. Nadat hij in 1933 als ‘half-jood’ van de universiteit van Keulen werd verwijderd, emigreerde hij naar Nederland en doceerde er aan de universiteit van Groningen, totdat hij in 1943 door de Duitse bezettingsmacht opnieuw werd ontslagen.De laatste oorlogsjaren moest hij onderduiken.

Na de oorlog kreeg Plessner eerst zijn Groningse leerstoel terug en daarna, in 1951, werd hij benoemd als hoogleraar in het Duitse Göttingen.Hij werd vooral bekend door zijn in ballingschap geschreven boek Die verspätete Nation, een historische analyse van de vraag waarom Duitsland vatbaar was voor het nationaal-socialisme. Zijn gedachtegang zou na de oorlog veel invloed krijgen. In de context van het groeiende populisme en het debat over de toekomst van de Europese Unie hebben Plessners analyses nog niets aan betekenis verloren.

Voor de Nederlandse vertaling van het Carola Dietze's lezenswaardige biografie, die tevens een boeiend beeld geeft van het academische leven in Duitsland en Nederland rondom de Tweede Wereldoorlog, schreef ik onderstaande inleiding op Plessners filosofie.

Gepubliceerd in: Book chapters
Sander Heijne, Jonathan Witteman. Alle creatievere taken blijven het domein van de mens. (Interview met Brian Berkouwer, Han Huisman, Klaas Mulder en Jos de Mul). Volkskrant, 10 oktober 2014.

Creativiteit

Niemand weet hoe een werknemer na de robotrevolutie zijn geld gaat verdienen. Het is de vraag in hoeverre nieuwe technologieën banen scheppen dan wel vernietigen.

De voormalige receptioniste van printerleverancier Ricoh is tegenwoordig verantwoordelijk voor de zachte, menselijke cultuur binnen de organisatie. Ze is formeel aangesteld om de samenhang tussen de in- en uitvliegende changemanagers en techneuten te bewaren. Bezoekers en potentiële klanten van de firma worden door haar ontvangen met verse cappuccino en een brede glimlach. Voor het geval u het begrip changemanager nog niet kent: bij Ricoh is Alex Hoosemans er een van. Hij helpt organisaties en hun medewerkers in de transitie naar een andere manier van werken.  Changemanagers adviseren bedrijven hoe ze kunnen overschakelen naar digitaal en geautomatiseerd werken.

Het zijn zomaar twee voorbeelden van beroepen en functies die zijn ontstaan als gevolg van de opmars van automatisering. 'De robotisering van banen die we nu kennen creëert ruimte om werknemers vrij te maken om onvermoede behoeftes van werkgevers en klanten te vervullen', zegt personeelsbaas Brian Berkouwer van Ricoh. Toen het bedrijf de eenvoudige administratieve taken die voorheen werden uitgevoerd door de receptioniste automatiseerde, besloot de directie de receptionist niet te ontslaan maar een taak te geven die geen robot kan invullen: het creëren van de juiste sfeer binnen het bedrijf.

En zo zullen veel meer beroepen geleidelijk veranderen, voorspelt Berkouwer. Als robots onze huizen schoonmaken, zullen we onze schoonmakers blijven betalen om voor een paar tientjes per week andere andere klussen van ons over te nemen. Machines kunnen repeterende taken uitvoeren, maar mensen zijn creatief. Berkouwer kan het weten, onder druk van de oprukkende automatisering transformeert Ricoh van een leverancier van printers nu tot een aanbieder van virtuele kantoorruimte en digitaal documentbeheer.

Minister Lodewijk Asscher van Sociale Zaken markeerde het aanbreken van het robottijdperk onlangs met zijn voorspelling dat er in de toekomst door toedoen van robots wellicht niet meer voor iedere Nederlander betaald werk zal zijn. Asscher vroeg de Sociaal-Economische Raad donderdag met een advies te komen over de gevolgen van technologische vooruitgang voor de arbeidsmarkt.

Gepubliceerd in: Interviews / written press
woensdag, 10 september 2014 19:55

2014-10-02 (Den Haag) Robo sapiens

Jos de Mul, Robo sapiens. U-meet Robotica 2014 (Universiteit Leiden/TU Delft/Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam). De Haag, 2 oktober 2014.

Robots zullen ons in de toekomst steeds meer werk uit handen nemen. Handig, maar hoe zit het met de ethische, technische, sociale en juridische kant van robotica? Tijdens paneldiscussies en workshops belichten experts van Universiteit Leiden, Technische Universiteit Delft en Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam dit fenomeen van alle kanten. Wat is de impact van drones? Moeten er robots in de zorg komen? Gaan robots al ons werk overnemen? En nog veel meer. Denk mee, op 2 oktober! #Umeet

Presentatie Chris van ‘t Hof - Sprekers  Dr. Bibi van den Berg  -  Dr. Joost Broekens  -  Prof. dr. Jos de Mul

Locatie  Den Haag, Anna van Buerenplein 30  Datum & tij 2 oktober, 17.00 - 21.00uur  Toegang Gratis

Gepubliceerd in: Lectures
Dr. Harry van den Bouwhuijsen, In de schaduw van God. Waarom binnen het christendom natuurwetenschap wel en menswetenschap niet van de grond kon komen [In the Shadow of God. Why Natural Science Could and Science of Man Could Not Develop in Christian Culture]. Co-referent: Dr. F.A. Muller . Promotiedatum: 18-03-2010. Publicatie: In de schaduw van God. Waarom binnen het christendom natuurwetenschap wel en menswetenschap niet van de grond kon komen. Kampen: Klement, 2010.

Waarom kon binnen de cultuur waarin een succesrijke natuurwetenschap werd ontwikkeld, een geslaagde menswetenschap nimmer van de grond komen? In dit boek wordt de stelling verdedigd dat het de dynamiek van de christelijke cultuur is die het ontstaan van de natuurwetenschap heeft mogelijk gemaakt, terwijl zij het ontstaan van de menswetenschap heeft belemmerd. Het probleem van de menswetenschap is dat veel van haar centrale concepten worden beheerst door religieuze noties, die in de loop van de tijd hun herkenbaar religieuze gedaante hebben verloren in precies die mate waarin ze als 'feiten' over 'de' mens een plaats innamen in de achtergrondkennis van een cultuur. Deze cultuur vindt het - om redenen die eveneens een religieuze oorsprong hebben - evident dat haar vanzelfsprekendheden universele geldigheid bezitten. Het is met die aanspraak op universele geldigheid dat christelijke vanzelfsprekendheden met betrekking tot de mens niet slechts onderdeel zijn gaan uitmaken van de westerse folk psychology; zij zijn eveneens tot de basisvooronderstellingen gaan behoren van wat wij 'menswetenschap' noemen. Daardoor drukken veel van de eigenschappen die in de menswetenschappen als 'algemeen menselijk' worden gepresenteerd, slechts de folk psychology uit van een specifieke cultuur. Een wetenschap van de mens kan niet succesvol zijn zolang zij een 'feiten­armoedige' mono-culturele onderneming blijft, omdat een dergelijke onderneming een onvoldoende empirische basis levert voor het formuleren van toetsbare theorieën over de mens. Een wetenschap van de mens dient te beschikken over een verzameling beschrijvingen van het Zelf en de Ander uit verschillende cultuurtypen. Pas wanneer aan deze voorwaarde is voldaan, kunnen vruchtbare theorieën worden ontwikkeld over de mens, het wezen dat zo veel verschillende beschrijvingen toelaat.

Summary

In this doctoral thesis a hypothesis is developed, explaining why due to the dynamic of a specific type of culture (i.e. the monotheistic type of culture) a successful natural science could come into being, where­as due to the same dynamic a successful science of man could not. The thesis consists of two parts. In the theoretical Part I, ‘Shadows of a dead God’, the hypothesis is developed. In the empirical Part II, ‘Masked Ball’, the hypothesis is tested.

I. Summary of the theoretical Part I

The core propositions to be defended are:

This raises the question of what turns a cause into a cultural cause? In order to answer this question a criterion is presented, allowing us to decide whether a set of behaviour of living beings constitute a type of culture: Starting point is Tomasello’s (1999) hypothesis that culture is the ontogenetic niche making human development possible. Phy- logenetically this niche has developed in connection with the evolu­tionary selection of a capacity for social learning (i.e. learning from and through congeners). In this capacity Tomasello distinguishes two components:

This ability to ‘identify’ with congeners and ‘shared intentionality’ fa­cilitates processes of sociogenesis and of cultural learning, in which groups of congeners cooperate in bringing about, preserving and modi­fying tools, systems of symbolic communication and representation, and social forms of organisation and institutions.

Tomasello distinguishes three time-dimensions in human cognitive development:

i        phylogenetic (evolutionary) time;

ii       historical time;

iii      ontogenetic time.

The ability to learn from and through congeners selected in phyloge­netic time, requires for its realisation an ontogenetic niche which — contingent on historical circumstances — is developed in historical time, generating a specific dynamic and coherence. This process will constitute the ‘cognitive habitat’ in which the cognitive ontogenesis of the human organism takes place, and determines in which way the human organism learns to learn from congeners.

Following Balagangadhara (1994), we take the coming into being of specific cultures (or culture types) to be the way in which ontogene­tic niches are constituted, on the basis of their specific dynamic and coherence. The core variable is the way in which the human organ­ism learns to learn form its congeners.

It is our hypothesis that a culture type comes into being when a specific configuration of learning arises; that is to say that when from the repertoire of learning abilities innate in homo sapiens,one specific way of learning is particularly favoured, as a result of which this way of learning eventually will come to dominate the other ones. In a con­figuration of learning the phylogenetic repertoire of learning abilities has been configured in historical time in such a way that there is one dominant learning ability, to which the other learning abilities have sub-dominant relations. Our slogan: culture types are specific configura­tions of learning. A configuration of learning constitutes a specific cog­nitive habitat, which enables and constrains the production and repro­duction of culture-specific knowledge.

Central elements in this doctoral thesis are the explication of the cognitive habitat of a specific culture type (the monotheistic one), and the investigation of the forms of enablement and constraints it opens up for generating culture specific knowledge.

Apart from the question how many configurations of learning can be distinguished, our culture criterion raises the question how such a configuration comes into being in historical time. That depends on the configuration in question. Historical research must flesh out the theoretical bones here. For one particular type of culture, the mono­theistic one, this configuration and the process in which it came into being, can be described fairly accurately at the moment. This is what we will do in Part II, focusing on one instantiation of the monotheis­tic culture type: western Christianity.

The monotheistic type of culture came into being in a cumulative process in which a configuration of learning was effected, dominated by exegetic learning (‘exegesis’ is used here in a broad sense: interpreta­tion, reading, explanation). All other forms of learning (for example practical learning, mimesis, learning linked to social intelligence) have a sub-dominant and derived position in this configuration.

In Part I we argue that the monotheistic type of culture as a confi­guration of learning has come into being in a process which we call ‘the dynamic of monotheism’. In this argument we explain:

i        what this ‘dynamic of monotheism’ consist of (Chapter 1);

ii       in what way this dynamic generates a configuration of learning (Chapter 1);

iii      in what way this dynamic and this configuration of learning are with­in the Christian cognitive space connected to the view of man as God’s image-bearer (Chapter 2).

The dynamic of monotheism

By the term ‘monotheism’ we refer to the monotheism-of-the-Book, of which Judaism, Christianity, Islam and — as most recent member of the family Mormonism — are different instantiations.

We are after the dynamic of monotheism as such. That is to say: we take monotheism for our unit of analysis, conceiving it as a ‘sys­tem’ with dynamic features. By that we do notmean that monothe­ism is a rigorous logical system, comparable to Euclidian geometry and arithmetic. In our view monotheism gets its systematic character from two components, which are tightly intertwined:

  1. a set of interconnected (but not logically following) topoi;
    1. a specific configuration of learning and meta-learning processes (to which we refer as ‘exegetic configuration of learning’).

On the one hand these components render monotheism its dynamic; on the other hand they impose specific constraints on it.

By conceiving a set of interconnected, but not logically following topoias a constituting component of monotheism, we want to em­phasize that monotheism is an opensystem, necessarily having an inter­nal dynamic.After all, precisely because these topoido not cohere logi­cally, they ask for a ‘theo-logic’, providing its own connections and reconciling what seems contradictory. This necessity of a theo-logic gives monotheism a fundamentally open character.

Besides this internal dynamic, monotheism because of its claim to uni­versalityalso generates an expansive dynamic, consisting of two move­ments:

  • proselytizing: by making converts, monotheism spreads in specific interpretations (Chapter 3);
  • secularisation: monotheism maintains itself and spreads in a transfor­med shape, which is no longer recognizably monotheistic, namely as structure of a worldview (Chapter 4-8).

Relation between the dynamic of monotheism and the exe­getic configuration of learning

The internal dynamic of monotheism generates a continuing flow of beliefs. These beliefs are the major criteria on the basis of which the numerous Jewish, Christian en Islamic denominations define their iden­tity.

The monotheistic emphasis on beliefs ensues directly from the re­lation between God and man. God, the Creator of the universe, has

Man as image-bearer of God

In Christianity the idea of man as image-bearer of God has a promi­nent position. The core of this idea is not that man resembles God physically or mentally (God is outside the scope of those categories), but that like God man can distinguish between good and evil. Accor­ding to Christianity, the crucial difference between man and animal lies in this human ability to acquire moral knowledge, and to make moral choices on the basis of it. The moral ability is the basis of the specific human dignity, to which every human being — as bearer of this ability — is entitled. Humans can derive certain rights from this dignity. In this respect — having a moral ability, bearing human dig­nity, and having certain rights based on that — all humans are equal in the eyes of God. As moral agents, humans can personally be held ac­countable for their deeds.

In the Christian cognitive habitat man is prototypically bearer of be­liefs, beliefs being the primary criterion for distinguishing individuals from each other, as opposed to non-monotheistic cultures in which the individual and his/her beliefs are not considered very important. Decisive is here whether someone is behaving properly, according to tradition. In these non-monotheistic cultures the individual person as a moral agent is not emphatically distinguished from his/her social position, as is the case in Christianity. In non-monotheistic cultures ‘the individual person’ is not an ethical or normative category, and does not play a major part in the moral judgment of humans.

The portrayal of man in which the individual person is conceived as bearer of beliefs, raises the question where these beliefs are located. They are located ‘in’ the human mind. In this model the human mind is a reservoir of beliefs, which ‘I’ must be able to overlook from one fixed position, in order to make a well-considered choice. This fixed position is considered to be a functional unity; it remains ‘itself5 in different circumstances, and that is why it is accountable for the choices it has made. This moral anchor-point, being the seat of the human moral responsibility, is considered to be the indivisible core of the intimate, individual self. Ideally this ‘self expresses itself in the ac­tions of the individual.

The cultural causes of the failure of the science of man

Christianity teaches that man is created in God’s image, and that this applies to every single man. In Part II it is demonstrated how in the process of secularisation, which developed in the Christian world from the seventeenth century onwards, the implications of the idea of man as God’s image-bearer were turned into ‘natural’ features of man.

For those whose ontogenesis did not take place in the Christian habitat, these ‘natural’ features are not in the least self-evident. Rather they are explananda when one tries to understand ‘the West’. One might possibly reproduce what in the Christian idiom is meant by ‘morally autonomous agent’, ‘individual beliefs as source of actions’, ‘stable inner core that can be distinguished from actions’, etc. but in the resulting ‘man’ one does not recognise the bearer of experiences as these are constituted in his own, non-monotheistic cognitive habi­tat.

The science of man as it has developed until now, can not lay a claim to the predicate ‘science’ if and in so far her research-object cannot escape from the scope of the Christian topos of man as God’s image-bearer. A successful science of man should at least have at its disposal the neces­sary data. That is to say: it should have many descriptions from different cognitive habitates (so not only in monotheistic terms!), enabling us to formulate productive hypotheses about the being that can be described in so many different ways. As long as these data are not available, what we call ‘science of man’ is little more than local folk psychology with unfounded universal pretensions.

II. Summary of the empirical Part ii

The chapters 3 — 8 meander through twenty ages of history, follow­ing a more or less chronological order, but no complete history is presented here. The emphasis is on the way the West has described the differences between itself and the Other from the Age of Discov­eries onwards.

Analysis of the western tradition of describing these differences leads to the following conclusions:

  1. Initially the western descriptions of self and Other came about within an explicitly monotheistic (in casu
  2. In the course of time this framework has lost its explicitly religious shape, but it has constrained descriptions in a secularized form ever since.
  3. This Christian framework — be it in its explicit religious or in its secularized form — does not allow facing fundamental differences between cultures. It effaces them, creating ‘differences’ instead that make the Other into variationstopos Christian versus
  4. This ‘mechanism’ by which the Other is transformed into a varia­tion of Self remains constant over time: intra-western differences be­come the matrix for describing differences between the West and ‘the Rest’.
  5. Schleiermacher historicises Kant’s transcendental analysis of Reason.
  6. He broadens Kant’s analysis of Reason by adding Gejuhlsempfinden

In Chapter 3 this mechanism is studied in terms of configurations of learning. The Other, his alterity first and foremost consisting of his participating in certain traditional practices, is fitted into the terms of the exegetical configuration of learning by coining him a dissenter or unbeliever.That is to say: characteristic practices by which groups of people, in their own eyes, fundamentally distinguish themselves from other groups — practices requiring no other justification than ‘that they are tradition’ — are now conceived as expressions of certain beliefs underlying these practices. Brought within the actual secular power of Christianity, the Other is forced to justify his traditional practices in terms of ‘underlying’ beliefs,against a systematically elaborated Christian theology. This mechanism is described on the basis of the ‘debates’ that took place in the sixteenth century between Christian theologians and representatives of American-Indian communities.

In Chapter 4 we examine the reformulation of the opposition be­tween Christian and pagan into that between ‘he-who-knows’ and ‘he-who is-ignorant’. Initially ‘being ignorant’ had the strong conno­tation of ‘being ignorant of Christianity, so uncivilised’. The gradual changing of this connotation is related to the way in which, in the course of the sixteenth century, intra-Christian differences were being used to define differences between groups of people, on the basis of how these groups defined the ‘natural’ idea of the divine. Jews, Mus­lims and the adherents of the numerous Christian denominations were thus placed in one Christian framework.

Subsequently we examine whether this framework leaves any room for understanding non-western peoples. A brief case-study will show us that the constraints which were operative in the sixteenth-century demonological descriptions, remained operative in this new frame­work. The question how successful people had been in articulating the ‘natural’ idea of the divine, was now reformulated as the question how successful people had been in obtaining knowledge of the divine message by reading the Book of Nature. This assigned the science of nature the status of a ‘soteriological bridge’ (Michael Heyd), and made reading God’s message obligatory for a Christian. ‘Being igno­rant’ now meant: not being able to understand that Nature is to be read like a Book, written by a personal God. (Please note that ‘being informed’ and ‘being ignorant’ were not conceived as mutual exclu­sive categories (like Christian and pagan), but as extremes on a con­tinuum: one can be more or less informed or ignorant).

After having examined in greater detail why natural science is the product of a specific exegetical configuration of learning (that is: of a specific culture type), we investigate why the participants of this cul­ture could conceive of themselves as ‘being informed’, even when science emancipated itself from religion in the eighteenth and nine­teenth centuries, and became an activity of its own with a specific dynamic. Christian presuppositions were now conceived as facts about man and world, facts that are part and parcel of the tacit knowledge of those whose ontogenesis took place in the (secularised) Christian cognitive habitat.

The success of this movement of the external dynamic of mono­theism can, among other things, be read from narratives describing secularisation as a process in which religious answers to problems are being replaced by scientific ones. One fails to recognise here that the internal dynamic of monotheism has so constituted the Christian cognitive habitat that it not just enabled the formulation of certain answers, but that it enabled people to raise certain questions and problems in a meaningful way in the first place. (These questions and problems were now conceived as ‘self-evident’, or as arising from ‘natural hu­man curiosity’.)

In the chapters 3 and 4 the internal and external dynamic of the mo­notheistic culture type are explored. Subsequently we have focused on the dynamic of the Christian instantiation of this culture type, de­monstrating the connection between this dynamic and the origin of natural science in Chapter 4.

In the chapters 5-8 we focus on the sciences of man. We argue that the same dynamic which enabled the origin of the natural sciences, has hampered the origin of sciences of man,because from the eighteenth century onwards, Christian presuppositions were tacitly assumed to be facts about man. This has caused a blind spot, excluding consi-derable parts of the empirical world from the domain of the sciences of man.

In the chapters 5-8 we situate the origin of the sciences of man in the context of the second movement of the external dynamic of (the Christian instantiation of) monotheism, secularisation. We explore in greater detail the thesis, put forward in Chapter 2, that from their ori­gin onwards in the middle of the eighteenth century, the sciences of man have always existed in duplicate, related to the conflicting topoi of man as God’s image-bearer on the one side and man as God’s creature on the other. These conflicting views can be summarised in the slogan: man is part of nature, yet apart from it. Man as God’s creature is part of nature;he must be explained from the powers to which he is subjected. Man as God’s image-bearer sits apart from nature;he must be understood from the decisions he has taken as a moral autono­mous, individual agent. We examine the role which both conflicting topoi have played in the secularisation of Christian culture, and how two opposing types of sciences of man came into being, both unable to break through the constraints of Christian presuppositions.

As an introduction to the chapters 6-8, Chapter 5 offers an outline of the Enlightened and ‘Counter-Enlightened’ traditions in the sciences of man, as they have taken shape within the dynamic of Christianity and the dynamic of the exegetic configuration of learning linked to it.

In Chapter 6 the outlines of the Enlightenment as a secularisation movement are examined in greater detail, in order to get a clearer picture of the way in which the Other was transformed into an early manifestation of ‘man’ as the sciences of man would come to describe him. Here we look in some detail into John Locke’s psychology, which in the eighteenth century played a central role in the devel­opment of the sciences of man. The question arises which theological and ethical problems stemmed from Locke’s rejection of innate ideas in the human mind, and we explore in which way innate ideas, which Locke (in the words of Carl Becker) “had so politely dismissed by way of the hall door” were “surreptitiously brought back again through the kitchen window” by some of his eighteenth-century fol­lowers.

In this chapter it is argued that the sciences of ‘man’ were in fact describing secularised versions of man as image-bearer of God, or of man as creature of God, pace the Enlightened philosophes who nur­tured the illusion of having freed themselves from religious influ­ences. The Christian cognitive habitat did lose its recognisably Chris­tian features to exactly the same extent as in which these features were manifesting themselves again in a secularised shape, and origi­nally religious certainties had taken their place in the tacit knowledge of that habitat.

Chapter 6 is concluded with the elaboration of an example that has a certain topicality: the view that from the nature of man his having ‘inalienable rights’ can be deduced. This idea originated in the Chris­tian cognitive habitat and can only be founded within that habitat. The idea that man has inalienable natural rights, presupposes certain Christian assumptions about man being part of the tacit knowledge underlying this idea. The assertion that a just society can only be founded on the principle of ‘unalienable rights’, encounters strong opposition from people in non-monotheistic culture types. This is a fact which in our age of globalisation, in which the West can no longer enforce its definitions of man and world as the right ones, and countries like China and India are getting an ever firmer grip on the international agenda, will increasingly turn out to be a handicap for our attempts to come to workable understandings with ‘them’.

In Chapter 7 the outlines of the Counter-Enlightenment as a secu­larisation movement is examined in greater detail in order to get a clearer picture of the way in which in the Counter-Enlightenment the Enlightened image of ‘man’ was amended. Here too it becomes clear that ‘man’ as the Counter-Enlightened intellectuals conceived him, has features which on further inspection turn out to be secular­ised versions of characteristics that are ascribed to him within the scope of Christian topoi. Like in the Enlightenment, Christian topoi lost their clearly recognisable Christian features to exactly the same degree as these features manifested themselves again in a secularised shape, and in which their Christian originals had taken their place in the tacit knowledge of ‘everyone-who-knows’. And like in the Enlighten­ment, the exegetical configuration of learning appeared as the natural precondition for thinking about and studying ‘man’.

In this chapter we also examine which consequences followed from the fact that Kant had relegated God from the domain of the theoretical Reason, a domain of which he had also shown its limits. The natural sciences as Reason’s main representatives were assigned the phenomenal world as their subject of research; God was relegated a place as ‘idea of the practical Reason’. This separation of scientific and ethical knowledge had far-reaching consequences for the Chris­tian cognitive habitat, in which ethical knowledge is the prototype of all specifically human knowledge and giving-meaning. If God disap­pears as the giver of meaning ‘behind’ the phenomenal world, this world thereby loses all meaning, because in monotheism God is the only one who, ultimately, can give meaning to the world. (The world expresses his Will; in that lies its meaning.) Monotheism (and so Christianity) is characterised by a grim dichotomy (Richard Bern­stein): God gives meaning to the world, or nothing can give it mean­ing, tertium non datur. So it is not surprising that at the moment the understanding began to take root — eighty years before the appearance of Nietzsche’s ‘madman’ — that after Kant God had to give up his role as the sole giver of meaning, the concept of ‘nihilism’ turned up, and began to find expression in art and philosophy. Nihilism implies opt­ing for the second disjunct. An alternative for nihilism is a re-occupa­tion of the first disjunct by a Giver-of-meaning, be it through a re­turn to God, or by creating a secular substitute (History, the People, Art, etc.). Most Counter-Enlightened intellectuals have tried to do the latter. In that sense the Counter-Enlightenment can be characterised as “a continuation of religion by other means” (Safranski).

We focus attention on the way in which God returns in a secular shape in the first, Divine, disjunct. As an example we choose the re­turn of the transcendent Creator-God in the shape of an immanent power ‘in’ History.

Subsequently a connection is made between the image of God as a Poet and the Counter-Enlightened emphasis on the importance of the unique. The unique as God’s artistic creation can be conceived as single event, but also as an era (‘the unique character of the Renais­sance’) or as a culture (‘the unique culture of the Trobriands’). We argue that the Counter-Enlightened emphasis on the right of the unique to be recognised as such, and its equivalence to other unique entities, takes its credibility from the scope of Christian topoi. Also the ques­tion is raised which demands follow from the image of God as a Poet, and of unique phenomena as his literary creations, for the way these creations should be read. This question is explored in Chapter 8.

In Chapter 8, after having given a brief survey of the history of her­meneutics, we discuss Schleiermacher’s ‘Copernican turn in thinking about understanding’ (De Mul), in which the foundation is laid for modern hermeneutics. Schleiermacher’s ‘Copernican turn’ consists of two aspects:as an ‘instrument’ for acquiring knowledge.

Dilthey, on his turn, uses Schleiermacher’s hermeneutics of language- expressions as vantage point for formulating a general theory for un­derstanding the historical-social world, thereby turning that world into a text and the interpreter into a reader, analogous to the way in which in the seventeenth century the natural world had been turned into a Book to be ‘read’ by man. Subsequently we examine the core ques­tion why making Nature into a text could lead to a successful science, whereas making the historical-social world into a text could not.

In this context we analyse the influence of Christian topoi — and their eventually turning into ‘natural’ characteristics of man — on the core concepts and assumptions of the science of man. These ‘natural’ characteristics of man were supposed to be universal. When it comes to knowledge of the Other, this claim to universality expressed itself, among other things, in the view that his society is basically a variation on a universal theme. All societies, according to this assumption, are built from the same building-blocks (religion, ethics, law, politics, art, etc.), which answer ‘universal human needs’, and which can be de­lineated in a similar way. Knowledge of other societies thus becomes a matter of translation: we understand God to be like this, they under­stand God to be like that; our science is like this, their science is like that, etc. In many cases, however, these ‘translations’ produce phenom­ena, which do not exist in the societies they are supposed to describe. By that the Other is labelled as the carrier of characteristics he does not possess, and his society is made into an exotic variation of ‘the’ society, as Christian culture sees it.

But not only have Christian topoi hampered understanding the Other, they also have stood in the way of understanding ourselves. Our ‘self too was portrayed in accordance with the Christian view of ‘man’ and we too were ascribed features we do not possess (as, for instance, the neuro-sciences are making increasingly clear).

Subsequently we examine the implications of Nietzsche’s message ‘God is dead’ for the science of man. If we interpret the statement ‘God is dead’ as ‘the ceasing of the constraints of the Christian cogni­tive habitat’, can we now conclude from that that Nietzsche’s mes­sage has cleared the way for a science of man? In order to answer that question we first examine which elements of Christian thought about man Nietzsche’s criticism was aiming at in particular. After that, we explore whether Nietzsche’s criticising-with-the-hammer has suc­ceeded in leading the way to a science of man after God’s demise, that is to say: a science of man outside the constraints of the Christian cognitive habitat.

The Nietzsche-example emphasises what probably had become clear after reading the data presented in Part II: that within the Chris­tian cognitive habitat it is (almost?) impossible to escape from its con­

In this context we analyse the influence of Christian topoi — and their eventually turning into ‘natural’ characteristics of man — on the core concepts and assumptions of the science of man. These ‘natural’ characteristics of man were supposed to be universal. When it comes to knowledge of the Other, this claim to universality expressed itself, among other things, in the view that his society is basically a variation on a universal theme. All societies, according to this assumption, are built from the same building-blocks (religion, ethics, law, politics, art, etc.), which answer ‘universal human needs’, and which can be de­lineated in a similar way. Knowledge of other societies thus becomes a matter of translation: we understand God to be like this, they under­stand God to be like that; our science is like this, their science is like that, etc. In many cases, however, these ‘translations’ produce phenom­ena, which do not exist in the societies they are supposed to describe. By that the Other is labelled as the carrier of characteristics he does not possess, and his society is made into an exotic variation of ‘the’ society, as Christian culture sees it.

But not only have Christian topoi hampered understanding the Other, they also have stood in the way of understanding ourselves. Our ‘self too was portrayed in accordance with the Christian view of ‘man’ and we too were ascribed features we do not possess (as, for instance, the neuro-sciences are making increasingly clear).

Subsequently we examine the implications of Nietzsche’s message ‘God is dead’ for the science of man. If we interpret the statement ‘God is dead’ as ‘the ceasing of the constraints of the Christian cogni­tive habitat’, can we now conclude from that that Nietzsche’s mes­sage has cleared the way for a science of man? In order to answer that question we first examine which elements of Christian thought about man Nietzsche’s criticism was aiming at in particular. After that, we explore whether Nietzsche’s criticising-with-the-hammer has suc­ceeded in leading the way to a science of man after God’s demise, that is to say: a science of man outside the constraints of the Christian cognitive habitat.

The Nietzsche-example emphasises what probably had become clear after reading the data presented in Part II: that within the Chris­tian cognitive habitat it is (almost?) impossible to escape from its con­straints completely. Pulverising Christian topoi produces pieces of the same topoi.As long as the science of man tries to free itself from the constraints of Christianity’s external dynamic within the Christian cognitive habitat, it will remain a ‘Münchhausen-effort’. A science of man cannot take off as long as it remains a ‘fact-barren’ mono-cul­tural project, because such a project lacks the necessary empirical basis for formulating productive theories about man. For a science of man it is a conditio sine qua non to have at its disposal a set of descriptions of Self and Other from different culture types (each putting their specific constraints on those descriptions).

Only when this condition is met, the question for the research­object of the science of man — What is man that he allows for so many descriptions? — can sensibly be raised, and productive hypotheses about man can be formulated.

The topoi of man as image-bearer of God and as God’s creature, having hampered the origin of the science of man, can now take their place in the reservoir of views from different cultures, which a pro­ductive science of man should have at its disposal. Maybe eventually there will turn out to be one portrayal of man, from which all actions of all people from all times can be explained, maybe not. Maybe, or maybe not, there will eventually be different portrayals of man from different cultures, that remain constant in time for that culture. Or maybe we can only find different portrayals of man for different cul­tures and different times. In the latter case the science of man could offer an overarching theory, linking types of portrayals of man to dif­ferent cultures. But that will happen only when the fact that people in different cultures have a different view of man is considered part of the set of explananda of the science of man. The topoi of man as im- age-bearer of God and man as God’s creature also belong to this set.

Gepubliceerd in: Completed PhD projects
Jos de Mul. Is Nederland voorgoed veranderd na de ramp? Interview met Mark de Bruijn. EenVandaag, Nederland 1. 2 augustus 2014.

EenVandaagTwee weken na de vliegtuigramp met vlucht MH17 probeert EenVandaag de balans op te maken. Welke sporen laat zo’n gebeurtenis achter in onze samenleving, wat doet het met ons collectieve bewustzijn?

Met name de beelden tijdens de dag van nationale rouw toonden dat veel Nederlanders zoeken naar een manier om uiting te geven aan hun gevoelens van onmacht en verdriet. Een filosoof en een psycholoog leggen uit hoe we worstelen met het noodlot, met het blijkbaar onterechte ingebakken idee van veiligheid.

We moeten nu collectief leren omgaan met het idee dat we niet overal grip op hebben, stellen Jos de Mul van de Erasmus Universiteit en Jean-Pierre van de Ven, die de afgelopen dagen met veel bezorgde mensen sprak over rouwverwerking. Hij doet dat namens de Stichting Korrelatie.

 Klik op de afbeelding om het interview te bekijken.

Gepubliceerd in: Interviews / tv
Henk van Middelaar interviewt Jos de Mul over evolutie en technologie. NTR Academie, 16 mei 2014, 22.00-23.00 uur. 

De mens ontwerpt de omgeving waarin hij leeft en heeft daardoor sterk de hand in zijn eigen evolutieproces. Maar is hij zich daar wel van bewust? Redt de moderne mens zichzelf nog wel zonder de door hem ontwikkelde cultuur en techniek? En hoe ziet de toekomstige mens eruit, hand in hand levend met steeds verfijndere techniek? Henk van Middelaar in gesprek met Jos de Mul, hoogleraar Filosofie van mens en cultuur aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

Beluister uitzending

Gepubliceerd in: Interviews / radio
Jos de Mul, It takes three to tango. Over de tragische dimensie van Europa, in: Ronald Tinnevelt (red.), Europa. Op zoek naar een nieuw elan. Nijmegen: Valkhof Pers, 2014, 177-192.

 

“Het veroverde Griekenland veroverde haar onbeschaafde veroveraar en bracht de kunsten in het landelijke Latium.”

Horatio
 

Waar is Europa? Wanneer is Europa? Wat is Europa?

Wie vraagt naar de Europese cultuur wordt al snel geconfronteerd met enkele basale, maar lastig te beantwoorden vragen. Dat wordt al duidelijk als we de simpele vraag stellen waar Europa nu precies ligt. Dat hangt samen met het onderscheid tussen staat en natie. Spreken we over de EU, een bundeling van onafhankelijke en soevereine lidstaten, dan is er een precies, zij het nogal veranderlijk antwoord te geven. Bestond de EEG bij oprichting in 1958 uit 6 lidstaten, dat aantal is steeds verder gegroeid en sinds de toetreding van Roemenië en Bulgarije in 2007 bestaat wat nu de EU heet uit niet minder dan 27 lidstaten. En het is onwaarschijnlijk dat het daar bij zal blijven.

Het gaat me hier echter niet om de grenzen van de EU, maar naar die van de Europese cultuur. Die vragen hangen natuurlijk wel samen. In de discussie over de mogelijke toetreding van Turkije tot de EU gaat het immers ook, en niet in de laatste plaats, om de vraag of Turkije wel of niet tot de Europese cultuur behoort. Op die vraag is gezien het heterogene, open en daardoor veranderlijke karakter van de Europese cultuur geen enkelvoudig antwoord mogelijk. In de discussies over het Turkse lidmaatschap wordt vaak de nadruk gelegd op de verschillende religieuze tradities. Dat is inderdaad een belangrijk verschil. Maar daarbij mag niet vergeten worden dat het christendom en de islam allebei wortels in het jodendom bezitten, en dat de geschiedenis van Turkije nauw verbonden is met die van de huidige lidstaten van de EU. Als het om Europa gaat wordt – de Grieken voorop – graag verwezen naar de Griekse Oudheid als de bakermat van de Europese cultuur. Daarbij wordt vaak vergeten dat die Griekse cultuur voor een belangrijk deel tot ontwikkeling kwam aan de Ionische kunst van wat nu Turkije heet. Thales woonde in Milete en Herakleitos zag alles stromen (panta rhei) in Efese. En ook door het Rijk van Alexander de Grote, het Byzantijnse en het Otto- maanse Rijk (dat zich op haar hoogtepunt tot aan Wenen uitstrekte), is Turkije deel van de Europese geschiedenis.

De vraag wanneer Europa is, is al even lastig te beantwoorden. Is Europa een herinnering? Een realiteit uit het verleden, uit de tijd dat er nog Europese Rijken bestonden, zoals het Romeinse Rijk en de keizerrijken van Karel de Grote en Napoleon? Of ligt Europa juist in de toekomst, in het moment dat de economische, juridische, poli- tieke en culturele integratie van de EU is voltooid? Of is Europa misschien veeleer een utopie, een mythische gestalte, zoals de bevallige Europa uit de Griekse mythologie, de mooie prinses uit de stad Sidon (in het huidige Libanon), die door Zeus naar Kreta wordt ontvoerd om er de liefde mee te bedrijven, waaruit vervolgens de oudste cultuur van Europa, de Minoïsche, ontspringt? De oorsprong ligt immers altijd elders.

De vragen naar het waar en wanneer van Europa voeren onvermijdelijk naar een derde vraag: wat is nu eigenlijk het Europa waarnaar we op zoek zijn? In feite is dit de meest fundamentele vraag, aangezien we onze zoektocht naar de grenzen van Europa in ruimte en tijd pas kunnen aanvangen als we op zijn minst enige notie hebben van waar we nu eigenlijk naar op zoek zijn, of dat nu een verleden of toekomstige realiteit is, of een mythische gestalte.

Gepubliceerd in: Book chapters
Werner Trio interviewt Jos de Mul en Pim Haselager over Kunstmatig van Nature. Onderweg naar Homo sapiens 3.0. Trio. Radio Klara. Zaterdag 19 april, 12.00-13.00

Vanuit Amsterdam: God helemaal ingehaald, en onderweg naar Homo Sapiens 3.0. Of door robots uitgeroeid? Als de mens zijn evolutionaire voortgang wil doorzetten, zal hij niet kunnen stilstaan bij wat hij nu is: de Homo Sapiens Sapiens 2.3. Kunstmatig is hij van nature: zonder de door hem ontworpen cultuur en techniek is zijn vliegensvlug toenemende complexiteit onhoudbaar. Filosoof Jos de Mul, die gisteravond samen met andere goden van de filosofie als Peter Sloterdijk, Martha Nussbaum en Benjamin Barber optrad op de G8 van de Filosofie, onthult drie toekomstscenario's voor de mens: extrahumanisme, transhumanisme, en posthumanisme. Om hem met de voeten op de grond te houden, zit Pim Haselager mee aan tafel. Hij is specialist Artificiële Intelligentie, volop ondergedompeld in het robotontwerp aan het Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour. Radboud University Nijmegen. Robots moeten zo worden geprogrammeerd, dat ze ook aanzichzelf kunnen twijfelen!

Beluister het radio-interview

Gepubliceerd in: Interviews / radio
vrijdag, 25 april 2014 07:26

2014-04-28 (Rotterdam) Genen kunnen leren

Jos de Mul, Genen kunnen leren. Lezing en gesprek met moleculair bioloog Frank Grosveld. Studium Generale Erasmus Universiteit. Rotterdam, 28 april 2014.

Kunnen tijdens het leven verworven eigenschappen, zoals angst voor bepaalde diersoorten of situaties, overgegeven worden van generatie op generatie? Een gesprek tussen moleculair bioloog Frank Grosveld en filosoof Jos de Mul naar aanleiding van de publicatie van Kunstmatig van nature. Onderweg naar Homo sapiens 3.0 van laatstgenoemde.

Aanmelden voor de week van de filosofie

In Kunstmatig van nature. Onderweg naar Homo sapiens 3.0, het door Jos de Mul geschreven essay van de Maand van de Filosofie 2014, is een belangrijke rol weggelegd voor  recente ontwikkelingen in moleculaire genetica, systeembiologie en biotechnologie. Ontwikkelingen die nopen tot een herziening van het centrale dogma van het neodarwinisme, namelijk dat uitsluitend in het DNA vastgelegde eigenschappen kunnen worden overgeërfd.

Gepubliceerd in: Lectures
Jos de Mul, De techniek van het menszijn. Video-interview met Hermien Lankhorst. i-Filosofie #6, april 2014.

iFilosofieTechniek staat niet tegenover of naast de mens, maar is ook onder- deel van de mens. “Dat maakt dat, volgens Plessner, de mens van nature kunstmatig is”. Jos de Mul

Voor de Maand van de Filosofie 2014 schreef Jos de Mul, professor in de Wijsgerige Antropologie aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, het essay Kunstmatig van nature. Onderweg naar Homo sapiens 3.0. De Mul beschrijft de rol die technologie in het leven van de mensheid heeft gespeeld, vanaf het allereerste begin tot nu. Ook schetst hij een beeld van hoe deze relatie in de toekomst zou kunnen veranderen.

De Mul is geïnteresseerd in de theorieën van Helmuth Plessner (1892−1985) die dan ook een rode draad vormen door zijn essay. Deze Duitse filosoof onderzocht de relatie van de mens tot zichzelf en zijn buitenwereld. Volgens Plessner is de mens mens(elijk) door zijn excentriciteit: zijn vermogen om van buitenaf naar zichzelf te kijken. Geen enkel ander dier of ding kan op zo’n manier afstand van zichzelf nemen, maar dat betekent ook dat geen enkel ander wezen zo’n kloof met zichzelf ervaart. Door die kloof voelen we een gebrek aan geborgenheid en zijn we daarom altijd op zoek naar een veilig thuis. De excentrische positie zorgt er ook voor dat de mens zich fundamenteel onaf voelt. En in een poging daar wat aan te doen, gaat de mens aan de slag met techniek en cultuur. Techniek staat daarmee niet (alleen) tegenover of naast de mens, maar is ook onderdeel van de mens. “Dat maakt dat, volgens Plessner, de mens van nature kunstmatig is,” legt De Mul uit.

Gepubliceerd in: Interviews / tv
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