Born in Vyborg in 1884 by parents of German descent, Vasily (Wilhelm) Sesemann grew up and studied in St. Petersburg. A close friend of Viktor Zhirmunsky and Lev P. Karsavin, Sesemann taught from the early 1920s until his death in 1963 at the universities of Kaunas and Vilnius in Lithuania (interrupted only by his internment in a Siberian labor camp from 1950 to 1956). Botz-Bornstein's study takes up Sesemann's idea of experience as a dynamic, constantly self-reflective, ungraspable phenomenon that cannot (...) be objectified. Through various studies, the author shows how Sesemann develops an outstanding idea of experience by reflecting it against empathy, Erkenntnistheorie (theory of knowledge), Formalism, Neo-Kantianism, Freudian psychoanalysis, and Bergson's philosophy. Sesemann's thought establishes a link between Formalist thoughts about dynamics and a concept of Being reminiscent of Heidegger. The book contains also translations of two essays by Sesemann as well as of an essay by Karsavin. (shrink)
The predominance and global expansion of homogenizing modes of production, consumption and information risks alienating non-Western and Western people alike from the intellectual and moral resources embedded in their own distinctive cultural traditions. In reaction to the erosion of traditional cultures and civilizations, we seem to be witnessing the re-emergence of a tendency to "re-ethnicize the mind" through renewed and more or less systematic cultural revivals worldwide (e.g., "hinduization," "ivoirization," "sinofication," "islamicization," "indigenization," etc.). How do and should philosophers understand and (...) assess the significance and impact of this phenomenon? Authors acquainted with the contemporary situation in Africa, Asia, the Middle-East, South-America, and Europe try to answer this question. In the final analysis, the authors of this original and groundbreaking collection of essays plead for a full critical engagement with one's own particularity while at the same time rejecting any form of cultural, national or regional chauvinism. They consider various ways in which local and global conceptions as well as practices can and already do judiciously inform and positively fertilize each other. At this juncture of history, they argue, societies and peoples must articulate their self-identity by looking critically at their respective cultural resources, and beyond them at the same time. (shrink)
Max Weber examined Chinese society and European Puritanism at the beginning of the Twentieth Century in order to find out why capitalism did not develop in China. He found that Confucianism and Puritanism are mutually exclusive, which enabled him to oppose both in the form of two different kinds of rationalism. I attempt neither to refute nor to confirm the Weberian thought model. Instead I show that a similar model applies to Jean Baudrillard’s vision of American culture, a culture that (...) he determined in terms of hyperreality. Instead of rejecting Weber’s thoughts right away, I give Weber’s model a further push and show that through a further twist that “Western culture” has received within particular American constellations, Weber’s understanding of Confucianism and Baudrillard’s understanding of American civilization manifest amazing similarities. (shrink)
Is virtual reality the latest grand narrative that humanity has produced? This book attempts to disentangle the common characteristics of human reality and posthuman virtual reality by examining discourses on psychoanalysis, gene-technology, globalization, and contemporary art.
I introduce and compare Russian and Japanese notions of community and space. Some characteristic strains of thought that exist in both countries had similar points of departure, overcame similar problems and arrived at similar results. In general, in Japan and Russia, the nostalgia for the community has been strong because one felt that in society through modernization something of the particularity of one's culture had been lost. As a consequence, both in Japan and in Russia allusions to the German sociologist (...) Ferdinand Tönnies' book Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft are frequent. In the end I associate the Japanese as well as the Russian ideas with neo-Darwinian versions of the theme of evolution as it has been developed by Henri Bergson, Gilles Deleuze, and Felix Guattari. (shrink)
I revisit the Derrida-Gadamer debate in order to analyze more closely the problem of the foundation of reason and of interpretation. I explore the theme of play as a metaphor of non-foundation in both philosophers and analyze how both extract this quality from their readings of Plato’s Phaedrus . Does Derrida not essentialize the game by declaring that the playful experience of a Gadamerian dialogue must produce a metaphysical presence in the form of a hermeneutic intention? I find that the (...) circular structure of understanding permits – for both philosophers – no clear signifiant either in speech or in writing. The game of interpretation produces – in changing endlessly between reading and rhetoric – an endless chain from one signifier to the next signifier without ever imitating a divine logos. (shrink)
Harry Frankfurt’s twenty-two page long essay “On Bullshit” was published in 1986 in an academic journal and appeared as a stand-alone book in 2005. The small book was successful and has sparked many discussions by both academics and public intellectuals. In this article I want to examine if, in the realm of art, kitsch overlaps with bullshit as a sort of “aesthetic bullshit” or if there are differences between bullshit as a predominantly ethical phenomenon and kitsch, which works much more (...) with categories such as pleasure and indulgence. Given bullshit’s intrinsic link with techniques such as embellishment and the willful stylization of facts, as well as its ambition to create an autonomous reality, bullshit seems.. (shrink)
The Chinese concept of wen is examined here in the context of contemporary gene theory and the "cultural branch" of gene theory called "memetics." The Chinese notion of wen is an untranslatable term meaning "pattern," "structure," "writing," and "literature." Wen hua—generally translated as "culture"—signifies the process through which one adopts wen. However, this process is not simply one of civilizational mimesis or imitation but the "creation" of a new pattern. Within a gene-wen debate we are able to read genes neither (...) in terms of nature or culture but, in a Chinese way, in terms of "nature-culture." "Posthuman" or "transhuman" models that celebrate the creation of techno-biobodies (cyborgs) as the continuation of the human by nonhuman means are still dependent on a clear distinction between nature and technology (culture) that is rooted in the Greek and Christian traditions. bioengineering does not do more than gradually replacing the "given" by the "made" until the body is seen as a commodity malleable in the hands of modern technology. A wen-based genetics offers a new perspective on nature-culture continuity because it is not trapped in nature but involved in a concept of wen that a Western mind tends to identify too quickly with natural necessity. (shrink)
As a philosopher, the architectural question that fascinates me most is the extent to which architecture imposes a certain way of life on people. Some might answer that architecture should impose as little as possible on peoples’ lives and that, in the ideal case, things will work in the converse: people impose on architecture the way of being that they believe to be most compatible with their lives. I guess that the leading thought underlying the latter scheme is that we (...) cannot trust architecture, that all too often architecture has made peoples’ lives difficult, inconvenient, and unaesthetic. Being led by motives of commerce or vanity, architects have often been deaf to the demands of “the people.”.. (shrink)
Introduction -- The historical foundations of Russian and Japanese philosophies -- Space in NOH : plays and icons -- Models of cultural space derived from Nishida Kitar and Semën L. Frank (Basho and Sobornost) -- Space and aesthetics : a dialogue between Nishida Kitar and Mikhail Bakhtin -- From community to time, space, development : Trubetzkoy, Nishida, Watsuji -- Conclusion -- Postface: Resistance and slave nations.
What role can philosophy play in a world dominated by neoliberalism and globalization? Must it join universalist ideologies as it has in past centuries? Or might it turn to ethnophilosophy and postmodern fragmentation? Universalist cosmopolitanism and egocentric culturalism are not the only alternatives.
This book shifts the focus from Critical Regionalism towards a broader concept of 'Transcultural Architecture' and defines Critical Regionalism as a subgroup of the latter. One of the benefits that this change of perspective brings about is that a large part of the political agenda of Critical Regionalism, which consists of resisting attitudes forged by typically Western experiences, is 'softened' and negotiated according to premises provided by local circumstances. At the book’s centre is an analysis of Reima and Raili Pietilä’s (...) Sief Palace Area project in Kuwait. Further cases of modern architecture in China, Korea, and Saudi Arabia show that the critique, which holds that Critical Regionalism is a typical 'western' exercise, is not sound in all circumstances. Furthermore, the book proposes that a certain 'architectural rationality' can be contained in architecture itself - not imposed by outside parameters like aesthetics, comfort or even tradition. (shrink)
The Cool-Kawaii: Afro-Japanese Aesthetics and New World Modernity, by Thorsten Botz-Bornstein, analyzes and compares African American cool culture and the Japanese aesthetics of kawaii or cute and characterizes them as expressions set against oppressive homogenizations of a technocratic world. The Cool-Kawaii sheds light on the history and development of both cultures in three main ways: First, both emerge from similar historical conditions; second, both are in search of human dignity and liberation, and finally, both kawaii and African American cool establish (...) a new kind of modernity able to transcend both traditionalism and anti-traditionalist modernity. (shrink)
Centralization and over-professionalization can lead to the disappearance of a critical environment capable of linking the human sciences to the "real world." The authors of this volume suggest that the humanities need to operate in a concrete cultural environment able to influence procedures on a hic et nunc basis, and that they should not entirely depend on normative criteria whose function is often to hide ignorance behind a pretentious veil of value-neutral objectivity. In sociology, the growth of scientism has fragmented (...) ethical categories and distorted discourse between our inner and outer selves, while philosophy is suffering from an empty professionalism current in many philosophy departments in industrialized and developing countries where boring, ahistorical, and nonpolitical exercises are justified through appeals to false excellence. In all branches of the humanities, absurd evaluation processes foster similar tendencies as they create a sterile atmosphere and prevent interdisciplinarity and creativity. Technicization of theory plays into the hands of technocrats. The authors offer a broad range of approaches and interpretations, reaching from philosophy of education to the re-evaluation of business models for universities. (shrink)
This book offers a philosophical exploration of lines in art and culture, and traces their history from Antiquity onwards. Lines can be physical phenomena, cognitive responses to observed processes, or both at the same time. Based on this assumption, the book describes the “philosophy of lines” in art, architecture, and science. The book compares Western and Eastern traditions. It examines lines in the works of Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Henri Michaux, as well as in Chinese and Japanese art and (...) calligraphy. Lines are not merely a matter of aesthetics but also reflect the psychological states of entire cultures. In the nineteenth century, non-Euclidean geometry sparked the phenomenon of the “self-negating line,” which influenced modern art; it also prepared the ground for virtual reality. Straight lines, distorted lines, blurred lines, hot and cold lines, dynamic lines, lines of force, virtual lines, and on and on, lines narrate the development of human civilization. (shrink)
Examination of the phenomenon of Viagra through a philosophical lens. Several authors focus on themes such as immortality and hedonism. Others offer psychoanalytical considerations by confronting clinical sexology with psychological realities. Still others explore intercultural aspects revealing the relative character of potency.
_Parasite_ presents the ethico-biological problem of parasitism in a metaphorical and artistic fashion. In this book, philosophers explore the film using sources such as the ancient satirist Lucian’s _De Parasito_, Nietzsche’s “the vengeance of the weak,” Dostoyevsky’s “Underground,” or Marxism, among others.
The verb κενόω means ‘to empty’ and St. Paul uses the word ἐκένωσεν writing that ‘Jesus made himself nothing’ and ‘emptied himself’. Śūnyatā is a Buddhist concept most commonly translated as emptiness, nothingness, or nonsubstantiality. An important kenosis–śūnyatā discussion was sparked by Abe Masao’s paper ‘Kenotic God and Dynamic Śūnyatā’. I confront the kenosis–śūnyatā theme with Vattimo’s kenosis-based philosophy of religion. For Vattimo, kenosis refers to ‘secularization’: when strong structures such as the essence and the fulfilment of the Christian message (...) are weakened. Parallels between Abe’s and Vattimo’s thought will be demonstrated with regard to themes current in East–West comparative philosophy: reality and emptiness, the overcoming of metaphysics, the position of the Self, the human and the divine, and the relationship between science and religion. The latter point is particularly timely because since the 1990s religious fundamentalism has pushed forward a curio.. (shrink)
This chapter contains sections titled: A New Tattoo Space The Savage and Civilization Nothing Ladylike About Being Tattooed? Ornaments, Crimes, and the Creation of a Feminine Tattoo Space From Tattoos to Graffiti Skinscape Recuperating the Political Body.
Several Buddhist schools in India, China and Japan concentrate on the interrelationships between waking and dreaming consciousness. In Eastern philosophy, reality can be seen as a dream and an obscure 'reality beyond' can be considered as real. In spite of the overwhelming Platonic-Aristotelian-Freudian influence existent in Western culture, some Western thinkers and artists - Valéry, Baudelaire, and Schnitzler, for example - have been fascinated by a kind of 'simple presence' contained in dreams. I show that this has consequences for a (...) philosophy of space. According to the authors discussed, the dreamer and the player recognize that human space always means the entire cosmos. (shrink)
At the centre of theories of film form is the idea that the montage of different scenes produces cinematic time. Montage creates a conflict between different shots, and time (as a purely functional relationship between shots) arises out of montage as an abstract element.
What is the “miracle” that protein farmer Sapper Morton mentions when he says to K: “You never saw a miracle”? It is the transformation of inorganic life into organic life. Rachael, who was a replicant in the old Blade Runner gave birth to twins. Tyrell had “perfected procreation,” in the words of Niander Wallace, but his knowledge has been lost. The theme of 2049 revolves around the scientific and philosophical question whether machines can become organic. Is a human only an (...) accumulation of parts or cells, or does the quality of being human denote more than the sum of its parts? Is a bioengineered human a real human or simply a sophisticated machine? Furthermore, the film associates the organic with the real. Real humans as well as real memories are linked to a larger whole. The article reflects these constellations against various philosophical stances. (shrink)
Over thirty years ago, Richard Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature declared the demise of epistemology and the arrival of a new post-Philosophical era. Rorty envisaged the intellectual activity of this predominantly literary culture as an unconstrained large-scale conversation that would flourish in an “ecstasy of spiritual freedom.” Having abandoned all systematic pretensions, edifying philosophers would add their voice to the conversation of mankind, fully aware of the radical incommensurability of the mortal vocabularies they employ. In an attempt to (...) evaluate this radical proposal, the first part of this essay argues that some of Rorty’s most memorable utopian statements are far-fetched, rhetorical and often exaggerated to the point that they damage his broad humanistic vision. Building on this, the second part discusses the “missed potential” of Rorty’s excessively broad notion of a conversation of mankind and of the uncompromisingly anti-essentialist and anti-foundationalist reorientation that he proposes. (shrink)
In architecture, the concept of Critical Regionalism gained popularity as a synthesis of universal, “modern” elements and individualistic elements derived from local cultures. Critical Regionalist alternatives are more than a postmodern mix of ethno styles but integrate conceptual qualities like local light, perspective, and tectonic quality into a modern architectural framework. In order to “critically” root architectural works in their corresponding traditions, Critical Regionalists base their conceptual stances on those philosophers that have produced a critical consciousness in European culture like (...) Kant, Ranke, Niebuhr, Humboldt, and others. It must appear as surprising that philosophy, the field from which architectural Critical Regionalism extracted its theoretical foundations, has never developed its own Critical Regionalist tradition. The present article attempts to formulate the relationship between regionalism and philosophy in a different fashion: is it possible and useful to retrospectively use the philosophical insights gained by architectural Critical Regionalism for a definition of the practice of regionalism in contemporary philosophy? (shrink)
“Reality television” is inspired by a particular fascination with “reality.” The detached way of “narrating” events with its occasional emergence of all-too-human constellations comes closer to that of dreaming than to that of analysis, consumption, or first-degree simulation. In the end, however, reality television adopts the form of an anti-narrative in which conventional narrative and receptive devices have not been overcome in order to create a real aesthetic of dreams, but have been overturned in order to create a strange kind (...) of fiction. (shrink)
Claude Lévi-Strauss holds that history and anthropology differ in their choice of complementary perspectives: history organizes its data in relation to conscious expressions of social life, while anthropology proceeds by examining its unconscious foundations. For R. G. Collingwood historical science discovers not only pure facts but considers a whole series of thoughts constituting historical life. Also Lévi-Strauss sees this: “To understand history it is necessary to know not only how things are, but how they have come to be.” However, Lévi-Strauss (...) does not perceive the double-sense of history, which can first be a record of historical “conscious” facts and second, a chain of unconscious or half-conscious acts. Like Lévi-Strauss, Charles Bally has derived the main theses of his theory from Saussure. However, contrary to Lévi-Strauss, Bally does not find structures at the inside of the phenomena but at their outside: “Our attention is drawn to the expressive side and not to the interior side of the facts of language.” Bally calls those structures not “history” but “style.” In Roland Barthes’s attempt to establish a structuralist system of fashion we can find a definition of style very similar to Bally’s. In the end, however, none of these thinkers addresses the fact that unconscious relations within historical life are constantly interlocked with conscious elements. (shrink)
The Eurasianist movement launched a theory according to which Russia does not belong to Europe but forms, together with its Asian colonies, a separate continent named “Eurasia” whose Eastern border is the Pacific Ocean. Similarily, in the early 1920s, Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, the founder of the Pan-European movement, developed, the idea of “Eurafrica.” I compare the writings of Coudenhove and those of Nicolas S. Trubetzkoy and show how the idea of Europe was used as an anti-essentialist model of a cultural community. (...) Though both “Eurasia” and “Eurafrica” may be understood to express cultural and economic imperialism, the sophistication with which both concepts are brought forward makes their interpretation as simple derivatives of chauvinism impossible. Both Trubetzkoy and Coudenhove refuse national “egocentricity” which “destroys every form of cultural communication between human beings.” Above that, Trubetzkoy and Coudenhove agree that cultural apogees have often come about through fusion. I discuss the idea of “convergence” in the context of Bergson's and Deleuze's biophilosophies. (shrink)
There are many links between Kuki Shūzō and the French philosophy of the 1920s that treated the phenomenon of contingency. Examined are (1) the problem of time as it presented itself to French philosophers at the beginning of the twentieth century and its reception by Kuki as an Oriental philosopher and a Buddhist; (2) the problem of liberty and of existence in these French philosophers and in Buddhism; and (3) the phenomenon of the dream as a psychic and aesthetic phenomenon (...) for Kuki and for the French philosophers in question. (shrink)
I revisit the Derrida-Gadamer debate in order to analyze more closely the problem of the foundation of reason and of interpretation. I explore the theme of play as a metaphor of non-foundation in both philosophers and analyze how both extract this quality from their readings of Plato’s Phaedrus. Does Derrida not essentialize the game by declaring that the playful experience of a Gadamerian dialogue must produce a metaphysical presence in the form of a hermeneutic intention? I find that the circular (...) structure of understanding permits – for both philosophers – no clear signifiant either in speech or in writing. The game of interpretation produces – in changing endlessly between reading and rhetoric – an endless chain from one signifier to the next signifier without ever imitating a divine logos. (shrink)
Films and Dreams considers the essential link between films and the world of dreams. Thorsten Botz-Bornstein reveals a common structure of "dreamtense" in the works of major filmmakers like Tarkovsky, Sokurov, Bergman, and Wong Kar-wai.
The Rural Studio, which was founded by Samuel Mockbee in 1992 and lead by him until his death in 2001, continues its activities. Its specialty is, now as before, the design of innovative houses for poor people living in Alabama's second-poorest county, Hale County, by relying largely on donated and salvaged materials. The houses are made of car windshields, surplus carpet tiles, baled cardboard, old street signs, license plates, etc. Alexis de Tocqueville has said that democracy lowers the standards of (...) creation,1 and it seems that, for architecture, this has become a sad truth in many cases in industrialized countries. The Rural Studio wants to contradict this tendency by showing that even within the context of .. (shrink)