Dutch/Flemish Philosophy Day in Rotterdam


Saturday, November 19, the 27th Dutch/Flemish Philosophy-day took place. The motto was “Thinking without Borders: challenges for philosophy in the 21st century” (Grenzeloos denken: uitdagingen voor de Filosofie in de 21ste eeuw). It was the first time I attended. The programme started at 10:00 in the morning, which I of course didn’t make quite on time… I’m not that much of a morning person, especially not on a weekend day :).

After seeing the last part of the plenary session I attended the breakout session “Man & culture” chaired by Jos de Mul. The papers presented by both Flemish & Dutch PhD researchers were pretty technical in my opinion. As I lack serious background in philosophical thought – and probably even more troublesome: acquaintance with the discourse by which philosophers tend to express themselves – I had a hard time understanding what was said from time to time. Nevertheless, some speakers provoked thoughts in me, so I made a few scribbly notes which I have transcribed below. Here we go:

(paper 2 – Kristien Justaert about objectification of subject by scientific method)

The scientific method has lead to a professional stance towards humans, nature and material objects (“Gegenstand“) that can be described as instrumental and rational. One could argue that demystification or disenchantment (Entzauberung – Weber) has led to a certain lack of respect for the subject in the scientific object under study, or the ‘fetish’ in the material artefact. This disrespect can be seen in the attitude towards the objectified subject, illustrated by Kristien’s example of the large number of mistakes/accidents happening in the medical world.

In our attitude towards ICT’s, we experience again a certain awe caused by the inexplicable, unpredictable, and uncontrollable. Art too shows us the ‘meaning’ and ‘value’ of the material object.

In play, the object becomes something that has more meaning and more value than the instrumental/rational. Play could be seen as the ritual search for & recognition/re-valuation of the subject that was turned into an object.

My final thought was: can the scientific subject-object impasse be overcome by the increase in lay-knowledge, – ‘democratisation of knowledge’ – and the availability through (new) media?

(paper 3 – Dik Derom about Heidegger and Humanism)

“Other” in narrative is a different “other” from the one in “play”: from an actor in a story (plot) that shapes his own Self with help from co-actors, to a player that shapes and shares with his co-players a communal (‘gemeenschappelijk’) ‘complot‘. (cf. Goffman’s audience, who are sometimes part of the performance, or at least helping out the performers).

The professional maintains much more a subject-object relation to his work. The professional keeps more distance from its subject by being involved in processes of knowledge protection, maintaining exclusivity, institutionalisation and legitimation, power plays with colleagues and clients and, consequently, possibly abuse.

The amateur (cf. Leadbeater’s “ProAm“) has a subject-subject relation to his work, with more attention, respect, love and appreciation. In a way, one could say the amateur has a more playful attitude towards his work.

(paper 4 – Michiel Besters, way too vague for me…)

reaction from the audience: humor is a way of penetrating the barriers we construct between ourselves and reality. Humor pierces through shielding mechanisms (amongst which: language, culture, institutions, social behaviour, media).

(paper 5 – Frank Maet about “the end of art” and beyond)

Art has become separated from the artist. It has become a work in itself, at least, that is what is being claimed of modern art. Distance to the production of the work (of art) can lead to the mystification of it.

Every medium is a mediation of a sensual experience: books – language – hearing; film – image – visual; ICT – immersive multimedia – multiple senses. ICT is not a passive mediation but requires an active outlook (apparently, here I started to drift away, judging from these trivialities :-). On second thought, mediation seems to have become a double mediation nowadays: a two-tier extension of older forms of mediation. Memory for instance mediates experiences, but now there are numerous technological extensions of memory (mobile photography, weblogs, calenders, etc.).

Heidegger: Identity & Differency: identity is thinking & being, Sein & Dasein. Intermediality is reflexivity about mediality by making a distinction between Sein & Dasein (zijn en zijnde).

Gadamer: in play we re-present ourselves by being involved in the game.

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