Jos de Mul. From Mobile Ontologies to Mobile Aesthetics. In: Contemporary Aesthetics. Special Volume I: Aesthetics and Mobility. 2005, 12 p.

From Mobile Ontologies to Mobile Aesthetics

We are living in a globalizing world, characterized by constant and rapid innovation. As we are inclined to go with this flow and its accompanying discourse of mobility, there is a danger that we overlook the persistence of cultural traditions. However, this paper argues that important differences exist between pre-modern, modern and post-modern traditions with regard to the form mobility takes. After a short discussion of the role information and communication technologies play in post-modern traditions, it is argued that these technologies transform our world, and not only our electronic files, into a global database and, as a consequence, generate a mobile stream of post-historic phenomena. In the conclusion some implications of the presented "database ontology" for the arts and aesthetic theory are discussed.

Key Words
cultural traditions, information and communication technologies, mobility, pre-modern, modern and post-modern traditions, post-history

Jos de Mul. Europe - the tragic continent. Michigan Paper Series. International Institute, University of Michigan, 2008.

Jos de Mul

Two weeks ago, in his lecture in this series on Europe, Neal Ascherson asked two intriguing questions: ‘Where is Europe?’, and ‘When is Europe’. Intriguing because it turned out that these seemingly simply questions are very hard to answer. Today I want to add a third question, as simple as the other two and as difficult to answer. This question is: Whatis Europe? In a sense, we may regard this third question as the primordial one, as we can start our search for Europe in time and space only when we at least have a slight idea of whatwe are actually looking for. So the question I want to address this afternoon is: what is it that makes Europe European? And as the title of my talk already indicates, the answer I will defend today is that Europe first and foremost is a tragic continent.

Jos de Mul. Etiketten plakken op de golven van de zee: Frederik van Eeden als vitalist. Frederik van Eeden-Genootschap. Mededelingen LV. Maart 2011, 6-19.



Laat ik mijn voordracht beginnen met het uitspreken van enkele woorden van dank en vrees. Laat ik met de dank beginnen. Het is mij een grote eer vandaag de jaarlijkse rede voor het illustere Frederik van Eeden-Genootschap te mogen uitspreken. Vooral gezien het feit dat we dit jaar, morgen om precies te zijn, de 150ste geboortedag van Frederik van Eeden vieren. Het is mij tevens een groot genoegen, omdat Frederik van Eeden ook een van mijn grote literaire jeugdliefdes is geweest en een belangrijke stempel heeft gedrukt op mijn persoonlijke ontwikkeling gedurende mijn middelbare schooljaren, en die jaren behoren – zeker als het gaat om de artistieke, politieke en filosofische voorkeuren die men ontwikkelt – tot de belangrijkste in een mensenleven.

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.


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


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