From here to where ? Living in academia …

On youtube a new playlist is launched, asking to where we move in academia. Occasionally it may a bit about ….

sites.google.com/site/mrdssocialstudiessite/_/rsrc/1401456166430/word-of-the-week/treason/treason.jpg

…, well lets call it a strong wish to move forward.

From personal experience, occasionally videos will be posted there, having different backgrounds, being recordings of presentations but also reflections “on occasion of” – for instance reflecting after public lecture or in connection with teaching or in the context of politics, policies, and polities – sometimes being asked for advise, sometimes not being asked though I should have been asked 😉
One of the aims is to ventilate issues that are too often left out of consideration, leaving us with complains about how bad the world is, instead of thinking about what we – in academia – really complain, analysing the reasons being developments, often also going back to our performance in academia itself and not least taking out the way forward.

In any case, it is a potpourri, a kaleidoscope and a huge variety of topics will be dealt with.

Annunci

paradoxes of jurisprudence

  • All right, but also all just?
Recently I received a mail (see below), calling against ending the discriminatory practice of the AirBnB-business, namely the difficulties of “foreigners”, namely potential customers with a foreign, non-european name (see here an article in Le Monde, here in the Guardian). For the organisation that sent the mail, la Maison des Potes – Maison de l’égalité, reason to argue against the discrimination – and up to some point there is nothing wrong with such complain.
But then … there is a point: AirBnB is one of those “sharing-economy” ventures that are in fact not sharing anything. On the contrary, they contribute to ruining local accommodation markets, make housing unaffordable to many due to the fact that speculators are buying apartments, blocking them for normal use as it is more profitable to use the space for “quasi-hotel”-business and forcing ordinary citizens to live in some subordinate quarters … or even on the streets.
So, the constellation becomes weird when looking at it from the legal side:
calling for the protection of people who want to rent, legitimising this way indirectly AirBnB, and thus contributing to a situation that is too often contributing to eviction … then, however, the legal system is reluctant to protect the homeless.
– All right, but also all just? – below a documentation of the mail
– Before another and (for me) similar contradiction – economic and political issues, political-economic issues aren’t different: the immediate personal encounter during the Economic Forum in Krynica – with (not only) the Polish Vice-capo and a high-level politician from Hungary’s fidesz had been simply shocking – as much as seeing who was providing the stage: not only KPMG:
and the “excellence” in performing Panem et Circenses as means of establishing and maintaining hegemony. But even there remarkable: during the same panel the voice of a multi:
“Nationalism is bad for you!”
So there will be and are somewhat strange coalitions again – again, as all this is of course well known from history. – Hegel’s Cunning of history?
***
In the following the mail mentioned above:

Cher(e) ami(e),Selon une enquête de France Info diffusée la semaine dernière, de nombreux utilisateurs d’Airbnb estiment que leurs demandes de location ont été rejetées en raison de leur nom à consonance étrangère.

Certains particuliers qui mettent en location leur bien sur ces sites web annulent la location lorsque la consonance du nom du locataire ne leur plait pas. La preuve de cette discrimination est apportée par des opérations de testings : lorsqu’un ami présente sa candidature avec un nom à consonance plus européenne, le bien lui est loué sans problème.

Pour la Maison des Potes ce type de comportement discriminatoire, prouvé par ces opérations de testings, peut être et doit être condamné par les tribunaux. La Maison des Potes épaulera chaque victime de discrimination pour l’action en justice à mener et se constituera partie civile à ses côtés.

Si vous avez utilisé ces sites web et que vous avez le sentiment d’avoir été écarté d’une location du fait de la consonance de votre nom nous vous invitons à nous contacter le plus rapidement possible par e-mail contact@maisondespotes.fr ou par téléphone au 01.44.93.23.23 du Lundi au Vendredi de 10h à 18h.

Des testings pourront être organisés suite à vos signalements.

Si vous souhaitez nous aider à réaliser ces opérations de testings pour combattre ces discriminations, nous vous invitons à nous contacter en vous inscrivant sur ce formulaire : http://www.maisondespotes.fr/operation-de-testing-contre-les-discriminations

Amitiés antiracistes

Failing projects

This week, meeting the students here in Lodz for the second time, the work will get more serious. The topics

I.

European Integration – A Failed Political and Social Union?

(from: Zeit Campus: September 2018/2019)

Though proposal had been made a while back – not focussing on issues GREXIT, BREXIT and the very recent “EU-developments” in Switzerland – one is wondering if these developments are seriously distracting the debates: Although they are highlighting the vulnerability, they are easily moving debates on solutions strategies – saving a torso – while neglecting the more fundamental issues that can be seen as fundamentally structural flaws, undermining the supposed plans and claims. In other words, the project had been from the beginning as half-hearted as the project of enlightenment. – In principle, already the lectures in Vienna (2017) had been dealing with these questions. However, in Poland the more philosophical may hopefully be more focussed upon.

II.

The second course will look at

Development versus Growth. Perspectives for a Qualitative Dimension in Developmental Economics

Not an easy one, as there is the fundamental issue of determining value, or to be more precise : to determine what economics/the economy is about. Unfortunately, also in debates one alternative paradigms, easily accept the flawed definition of economy

The economy of humans emerges from two roots. They have to beeconomically active because the means are scarce in relation to the ends …; and they are in a position that allows them to be economically active as, though with some limitations, they can make decisions about the purchase and use of the goods regarding the kind, quality, quantity, use etc., thus influencing the use-impact that are achieved …

(Schoenfeld, Leo, 1924: Grenznutzen und Wirtschaftsrechnung [Marginal Rate and Business Mathematics]; Wien: Manz’sche Verlags- und Universitäts-Buchhandlung; unchanged reprint München/Wien: Philosophia Verlag: 1)

While in very general terms there is nothing wrong with what is said, there is everything wrong if we use this as real point of reference or economy and development. An alternative is Frederick Engels’ proposition:

According to the materialist conception, the determining factor in history is, in the last resort, the production and reproduction of immediate life. But this itself is again of a twofold character. On the one hand, the production of the means of subsistence, of food, clothing and shelter and the implements required for this; on the other, the production of human beings themselves, the propagation of the species. The social institutions under which men of a definite historical epoch and of a definite country live are determined by both kinds of production: by the stage of development of labour, on the one hand, and of the family, on the other. The less labour is developed and the more limited the volume of its products and, therefore, the wealth of society, the more predominantly the social order appears to be dominated by ties of kinship. However, within this structure of society based on ties of kinship, the productivity of labour develops more and more; with it, private property and exchange, differences in wealth, the possibility of utilising the labour power of others, and thereby the basis of class antagonisms: new social elements, which strive in the course of generations to adapt the old structure of society to the new conditions, until, finally, incompatibility of the two leads to a complete transformation. The old society, based on ties of kinship, bursts asunder with the collision of the newly developed social classes; in its place a new society appears, constituted in a state, the lower units of which are no longer groups based on ties of kinship but territorial groups, a society in which the family system is entirely dominated by the property system, and in which the class antagonisms and class struggle, which make up the content of all hitherto written history now freely unfold.

(Engels, Frederick, 1884: The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. In the Light of the Researches by Lewis H. Morgan; in: Marx&Engels Collected Works. Volume 26: Engels 1882-89; Lawrence & Wishart, 2010 [Electric Book]: 129-276, here: 131 f.)

A lengthy quote, a position that should also allow thinking what “the old society, based on ties of kinship, bursts asunder with the collision of the newly developed social classes” means today.
In a forthcoming publication – titled

About You – Nur frage nicht ob Du ueberhaupt bist

part of the topic, dealing with modes of life, will be looked at. After publication in the Tarantel, published by the Ökologische Platform bei Der Linken it will be announced here.

never blame students for what lecturers and politicians do to them

A widely known problem is that students today have – supposedly – problems to read: are unwilling, only printed on exams and subsequently the reeding they need for proceeding. My personal experience suggest something different: if students have space: literally by way of sufficient “quality location”, time and mental space, not being pestered by problem-solving urgency, allowed to foster critical thinking (as Robert Cox outlines it in the piece from 1981: Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory; in: Millennium – Journal of International Studies 1981; 10; 126-155 DOI: 10.1177/03058298810100020501) most of them would love reading more, more widely, critically working with texts.

However, if politicians educate teachers who then educate students and then these students become politicians, educating teachers who then educate students who then become politicians … … … – it is quite natural that after going a couple of times around, policy documents and texts books look very much alike, nit even reaching the intellectual level of A Little Bit of Everything for Dummies.
Though already from 2011, a document issued by the Irish government can be taken as example for such dummies=stultification-strategy, showing on page 7 the following:
It reminds me that at some stage “Communications“, issued by the European Commission had not been allowed to be longer than 20 pages – politicians are not reading longer documents …  the paradox then and there: instead of producing one document with 30 pages, two documents with twenty pages each had been produced … , and so forth and so forth … at least the printing press being extensively used. The crux of “maths”: making two documents out of one 30-page document dos not mean having two 15-pages docs. because additional space is needed for the cross-references and the like. though we end up with something like 30 divided by 2 = 20+20 = 60, or in short: 30 divided by 2 equals 40. There is a German term “Milchmaedchen-Rechnung”, literally “calculation made by a dairymaid”, meaning fallacy, naive. Perhaps it should be changed, the new term being Commissioner- or Politician-Calculation.
May be it is still better then producing one document that is so much simplification of everything that it requires a guideline to show the reader the way through (though to sweet) nothingness.
In any case, please, never blame students for what lecturers and politicians do to them.
Some voluntarily, some lazily, some being forced .., and some still resisting.

World Teachers’ Day

The 5th of October, since 1994, the World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. The 1966 Recommendation provides the main reference when it comes to teachers’ rights and responsibilities on a global scale.

 

Worthwhile to remember what Alfred Marshall said in 1890.

The schoolmaster must learn that his main duty is not to impart knowledge, for a few shillings will buy more printed knowledge than a man’s brain can hold. It is to educate character, faculties and activities; so that the children even of those parents who are not thoughtful themselves, may have a better chance of being trained up to become thoughtful parents of the next generation. To this end public money must flow freely. And it must flow freely to provide fresh air and space for wholesome play for the children in all working class quarters. (Marshall, Alfred, 1890: Principles of Economics; MacMillan and Co., London, 1930: 718)

It seems that with the “refeudalisation of society” we face the situation that the positions of the revolutionaries of the olden times, whose authors had been yesterday’s conservatives, are becoming joining on the side of the revolutionaries again. In this light there is also something about the illustration, ensuring to sin – surely not catholic-literally but to accept that pupils and students are partners.

****

Worthwhile a note on the world and China: on September the 10th I received a mail from 张伟, a former student of mine – well, she would say “a student of mine”, skipping the word “former”. She sent her congrats and best wishes for the teachers day. First I was puzzled – did she mix up the date? 2018, the Chinese teachers’ day is on the 10th of September, the world teachers’ day on October 5th, a simple explanation. I checked later on the web and found something that is … – well, I leave it up to you to think about it:

10 September is an official holiday in China. This day the whole country fetes educators and teachers. This holiday, in its different interpretations, has been existed in China as early as the Middle Ages. Teachers and coaches have always been honored and respected in China. Very often teachers acted as mentors throughout the whole life; especially it is true for the traditional Chinese martial arts.

It also says something on the reason of making it a public holiday: the official acknowledgment of teachers – as intellectuals – and their important role in boosting the development of the country. Also

Since the school system in China is based on the Western model, many old traditions in honor of teachers have not been preserved today.

One may have different opinions on this, the political background …, well. But at least it seems to be worthwhile to mention that there is a deed in the one part of the world, and that there are just words, probably widely unspoken, unwritten, unheard, unread … in another part of the world.

****

Worthwhile a personal note:
Only recently, visiting with a friend the Kunsthalle in Munich, I remembered one point of all this, when standing with her in front of one of Emmanuel Maignan’s works, the “Anamorfosi San Francesco di Paola”. A pleasure to experience the amazement of both of us. Though it had not been about a visit with a student, it is very similar anyway: Something of learning together and admitting that it is about the experience of being caught by what one sees – in this case actually being caught by what one does not see: the praying person only visible from two specified angles, the sides. It reminded me of having used Holbein’s equally magnificent  work “Gli Ambasciatori” for showing the same effect: the hiding of something, the fact of leaving something invisible for those who lack the enlightenment – an enlightenment that is emerging from the standpoint, the perspective. Never having seen the original of Holbein’s work, seeing something similar entailed still the experience of being amazed. – What foolish teacher would say s/he knows the one and only perspective. Doesn’t such perspective emerge only from putting together experiences, that may at some stage get stuck, paralyse the experienced if it goes together with closing the eyes, blocking off, not allowing new experiences to be made; and even more: not allowing looking at something “known” through new spectacles and of course forcing looking at the new through the old glasses.

Teachers’ Day – an opportunity to congratulate students, and to thank my students for allowing me to learning together with them.

Avoiding Trivialities

The “Times Higher Education” published recently a piece by Adam Graycar, titled
(see also here).- one of the few occasions that I comment on any articles, briefly making two points:

All right and important. I still would like to add one point, subdivided: (i) generally, doesn’t result-oriented, mostly empirically-oriented (“evidence-based”) research as standard expectation and kind-off methodological ultimate ratio contribute very much to such competitive orientation even before it comes to considerations concerning publication? I suppose such research is more inclined to competition than “fundamental research” (“Grundlagenforschung”). (ii) isn’t already the entire system of (mass)education as PRIMARILY “vocational training like education, driving (future) researchers into the direction of competition-driven instead of knowledge-enhancement driven? – This begins already when looking at the way of dealing with applications by students for courses – see some experience-based views.

The reason for mentioning it here is a short discussion I have had here in Helsinki in connection with a PhD-student. I was wondering that his work is cumulative and also based on/linked to earlier publications, co-authored with others. In Finland, at least it is a possible. I know about “collective/collaborative work” – actually my own diploma thesis in a cooperative manner.
Sure, there are terms and conditions as especially the need to sign and thus confirm that some part is the individual work …
My habilitation can be considered as cumulative. Now, here in the Finnish case it is about cumulative and collective. Shouldn’t that be the norm, also considering that cumulative is not only about the past, but also about “a stepping stone”, part of an ongoing cumulation and growth. Doesn’t the opportunity to co-author a thesis also acknowledge and highlight that any – tiny or large – work is part of a collective effort, actually the strive if humankind for truth? Making such exception of co-authoring cumulative work as thesis could be a tiny to overcoming individualist competition as foundation of academic work, too often resulting in arrogance or failure.
Indeed, Dante expressed it succinctly, reflecting the need to think about social and societal practice:
considerate la vostra semenza: fatti non foste a viver come bruti, ma per seguir virtute e conoscenza.

Actually the plan was a different one …

– it had been early in February, and the plan was to enjoy the ease of a Jazz-concert. But it should not be that way, the venue was cramped when we arrived – trotting along for a while, not knowing what to do … .

‘The Pinakothek, is it still open?’

She asked and I replied I would think so …, until eight. So it gave us about one hour. We entered the Neue Pinakothek …

You enter at the end?

the man from the security service asked.

It does not really matter

I replied when we showed the annual tickets

We can come any time, and we can come often. In this way there is no real beginning, no real end. Coming here is a kind of never ending story.

Walking into the first room I had been asked

Which paintings do like especially?

I went directly to some favourites – favourites this day, this time, this hour …Claude Monet’s La Seine à Argenteuil [1874]; Édouard Manet’s Claude Monet in Argenteuil [1874]. We talked about forms and ways of detachment and engagement – and even detachment as engagement. We talked about the here and there – wasn’t detachment, as understood by the late realists/early impressionists, so very different from the detachment by the Nazareni, we had seen the other day when looking at F.W. von Schadow’s Die Heilige Familie unter dem Portikus.

We moved on – I wanted to point on another difference – that between the Monet/Manet and here now to Liebermann, and Menzel. But again, it should not be that way. – Gotthard Kuehl’s Vor der Schicht [ca 1895/99] caught her attention. After a while, talking, looking for appropriate terms that would make it accrues the language hurdle, I stepped back – we stepped back … .

If you can chose, which one will you take with you?

Asking this question, I pointed on Kuehl’s painting, Liebermann’s Münchner Biergarten [1884] and his Badende Jungen [1898]. But I did not strictly oppose when my friend was cheating a bit, turning around and finally drew me to Fritz von Uhde’s Schwerer Gang [1890].

Such dark, grey painting?

There was not much hesitation

Yes, overall, sad and dark, but because they are together, and … There is a far-flung looking light.

I like it because it’s not sad

Much later, after a chat over a Bavarian Pils, we walked together to the Metro – when we parted, she left me with a thought … – her thought? my thought? or our thought? A thought which is too large for one, even fore two people alone and still has to be dealt with by each of us – alone and in being together. I had been Andre Vltchek’s thought of being Scared, Therefore I am Brave!

When the desire for knowledge becomes truly overwhelming, one simply cannot stop, or slow down. The only way is to go forward, to absorb knowledge, to fight for attaining knowledge, to see the world, to understand, to feel, to listen; passionately and consistently. No fear can deter us, when we are avidly searching for truth. It is so proud, so brave, this desire to know!

When we feel ‘unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind’, when we witness how unjust is the arrangement of this world, when we truly internalize the suffering of others, of our fellow human beings living on all the continents of this beautiful but battered planet, then almost all of us, or at least those who are humanists in their core, become courageous, and brave. They suddenly know what has to be done.

As for ‘the longing for love’, it is there, it is always there, in all of us, in all human beings. To fight for love, when it comes, is brave, and to die for it, if risking all is the only way to save it, is courageous. That ‘longing for love’ is the most humble, most sacred, the most essential part of our nature, so rarely satisfied. It takes courage to love; it takes tremendous, indescribable courage!

I am wondering if there is anything like ‘energising paralysis’ – Mia Eta …. – At least there is now the time to say goodbye, moving on …, and sadly leaving, having lost sight of light since a while in the frictions of different excise – and only seeing glimpses, sparkling and floating for some time, only striving to overcome numerification.

… We can come any time, and we can come often. In this way there is no real beginning, no real end. Coming here is a kind of never ending story … – and this means at the end to stay even if parting. Good Bye, Farewell, See you …- thirteen minutes until the train leaves …