Fondazione della biblioteca per l’apprendimento profondo – Foundation of a library for deep learning

When I left Rome a couple of years ago I decided to leave my books there, making a donation so that the books and material can be accessed by the public. EURISPES kindly accepted this and took it as opportunity to establish this small collection (so many books I lost over the time due to moving from one place to another and also due to political attacks from the extreme right; not least, university libraries did not accept earlier offers of material which means many EU-(project-) documents from pre-internet times are lost as I could not store them privately) as a foundation for which I propose the name

Fondazione della biblioteca per l’apprendimento profondo – Foundation of a library for deep learning.

Admittedly there is only a small number of those books, I owned during my lifetime, left. Still, I hope that those books left can serve as a foundation stone for an increasing number of books donated by others, offering what educational institutions unfortunately offer less and less: access to books including such books that are not mainstream and not topical in the sense of offering little space for independent thinking behind catchy titles, in other words books that allow studying beyond the usual textbooks. The small and hopefully growing collection contains study material that allows developing independent and critical thinking. Saving space in my own accommodation, socialising the means of production of knowledge and avoiding further damage while moving on had been  important reasons. Furthermore, it had been the experience I made in Rome: the joy of reading in public libraries, being together or at least feeling together with others, experiencing the production of knowledge as a social, collective process. It may sound pathetic, but indeed it would be a great satisfaction for me if I could contribute a wee bit in the creation of such orientation from young scholars (and old peers too, of course).

The library including reading space is located adjunct to the office of EURISPES

  • Istituto di Studi Politici Economici e Sociali, Via Cagliari, 14 – 00198 Roma
  • +39.06.6821.0205 (ra) +39.06.4411.7029

It can be assessed during office hours and I sincerely hope that many people make use of it and also get support and an open space for debate when visiting the library. I haven’t seen the place and do not know if I will ever see it. In any case the satisfaction of knowing about it is great.

I am grateful for support and also for interest.

Peter Herrmann. Prof. Dr. habil.; Research Fellow at the Human Rights Center. Law School at the Central South University, Changsha, PRC

IASQ (The Netherlands); CU (Hungary); IPE (Germany); LU-MSU (Russia); MPISoc.Law (Germany); NUI-M (Ireland); UEF (Finland)

Lushan South Road, 410083 Changsha, Hunan, PRC/

preparing the end of humankind ?

Ratio turns into nonsense, benefit into menace  
Woe unto you, that you are grandchild!  
The right, that is born with us,

Translated from Goethe’s original:

Vernunft wird Unſinn, Wohlthat Plage;  
Weh dir, daß du ein Enkel biſt!  
Vom Rechte, das mit uns geboren iſt  
(Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 1790: Faust. Ein Fragment; Leipzig: Goeschen: 32)

Well, this could be written today without changing any substantial issue. Online teaching will remain if not dominant so at least as co-player on the agenda. To discuss respective issues, I attended recently a meeting for lecturers and casual lecturers. One of the issues had been the problematic that students are reluctant to switch on the video. Of course, there are many sides that can be discussed in this context. One point that came up, and been about obliging students to leave the video switched on – confirming the decision would not be recorded for the purpose of publication. However, such a proposal was harshly rejected, the reason being concerns with data protection. 

You may kindly ask them, but not oblige them … doing so, would be a serious issue of breaching the right to privacy.

Indeed, ratio turns into nonsense, benefit into menace. , If we continue thinking this way, we have to be afraid that one day attendance in the class is equally problematic in the light of data protection. Going even further anything, that forces us to show up in the public, can be seen as problematic in the light of data protection, in the light of breaching privacy rights: going shopping, taking a means of public transport, going to coffee or pub, and of course even going to the public administration as for any service becomes seriously problematic. And the service workers ???? — sure, seeing this as a matter of privacy rights and data protection; equally true is, however, another interpretation: we have been fighting to be heard, to have a say in public matters, however, the result of a conservative turn is complete individualism, the loss of any rights that could be considered as social rights. Finally, MargaretThatcher succeeded — there will be no such thing as society. Taking Aristoteles, Marx, Durkheim and the many others who said that humans are social beings, seriously, we are thus preparing the end of human existence.

Too tiny to think about it?

Are the labels on the bio-lemons, organically grown apples etc. made from recyled paper and biologically degrading? Is the glue used to stick them on the fruit edible? If not, what is about the extra water I may need to clean the fruits from this rubbish?

Sure, these are tiny things – but then, seriously, think about the seize of a virus and the harm it can cause

better – different – less — what is more?

a tiny riddle – or living with contradictions by ignoring them?

One of the global players, stating “invented for life” under its name and probably claiming inventing for life, commencing business with a

Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering

and subsequently really moving into the area of the various areas that are connected to electricity, promises (= advertises) by suggesting to

become carbon neutral from 2020.

Appreciating the efforts of this and other companies to work towards more “environmentally friendly technologies”, there are so many promises that must evoke suspicion, for example provoking the question how electricity – the production and consumption of it – can be carbon neutral.

At least one ad I see these days is remarkable in this context, really remarkable. It is an ad from a shop, selling groceries — with one simple message:

Buy less

Jesters today

Again this one:

Dear Mr HerrrmannYou received new messages in the postbox of … [name of health insurance]. Do you want to have a look right now? Then click on the following link …With kind regards your [name of health insurance]

Is it appropriate to reply sth. like

(By William Merritt Chase – The Athenaeum: Home – info – pic, Public Domain,

Dear [name of health insurance], thank you so much for your kind message which I could read after about 5 mouse-clicks and successfully digging out my insurance number, followed by another mouse-click … – I have to admit that i could have saved the energy (my personal and that of running the computer) as the message does not in any way engage with the message it supposedly answered …
Are you interested in my detailed reply right now? Please, come to my flat, I have written it down and may even help you to decipher my handwriting, assuming that you lost some part of your reading skills over the years – as said, the message you sent suggests something like it.

I am serious, especially today, after having met the last group of my students for examination. Part of the discussion had been the question how it is possible that we are apparently all (forced to) moving around in a system that makes us to something worse than jesters? The jester at court had been asked to be critical and provocative, transporting the critique to the kings and lords, the modern jester is being asked to accept eighteenths fooled and to pass critique on to those below … to those below …

Remedies …

So many letters at the moment, and some including information on legal remedies.

– of course, as even the purchase of a box of matches is a legal act even if undertaken with the purpose of an illegale action, life is really tricky wherever we go, and the same applies if we stay.And there are also letters, websites, mails … they offer the entire range of contact options: chat, FB-site, helplines, and of course the “community”, so often just a collection of earlier asked questions with easier given answers …, leaving visitors as helpless as they had been on arrival. Now, looking at all the customers’ rights I am missing one:

easy contactable real person who is nice/friendly/understanding AND knows what the problems really are

– beyond the information taken from some database.

hitherto – now – and then?

It had been well stated that

Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.

but so far “it changes” and philosophers and others are in a touristy mood, moving around and watching enjoyable spots.

I suppose, we lost even the ability to ask the right questions – and have to start from scratch …

no doubt

There cannot be any doubt – leaving all qualification aside – the “Me Too Movement” had been necessary and, while equally doubtless there had been flaws and negative effects, it produced many positive results. – As Lewis said

you can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending,

Thus I dare to ask if

Me Too

did not need another, complementing, movement or had been such double movement, one that said

Without Me

Unfortunately the Me-Too-Movement had been been necessary by the “detestable behaviour”, women had been confronted with and – at least for some time, surely for different reasons – “lived with without accepting it”. But hadn’t it been also – then – a movement of women who now said “I do not accept it anymore”? And had it possibly also before a lack of men who resisted peer-pressure, following peers and societal images that suggested such assaults being “normal”, at most trivial offences — part of the story reminds me a bit of the debate in Marxism, looking a the development of the class in itself (defined by the situation as such) to the class for itself (defined by the perception and the subsequent joining in with others and acting “solidaristically against the other” (the one class defined by the existence of the other; the raped, abused, disrespected … defined by the rapist, abuser, disrespectful …). And all this is in part a somewhat paradoxical constellation: acting “social” requiring gaining independence from the social settings and environments.

There is this ambiguity – on the one hand, MeToo had been

“a movement about the one in four girls and the one in six boys who are sexually abused every year, and who carry those wounds into adulthood,”

as Tarana Burke said – a much too high number though still a minority. On the other hand she also highligthed

We start by dismantling the building blocks of sexual violence: power and privilege. This starts by shifting our culture away from a focus on individual bad actors or depraved, isolated behaviour.

Without aiming on de-victimising anybody, without aiming on excusing anybody, without suggesting that “all problems are the same, of the same gravity” …. I am wondering if we should not be stronger in building up

Without Me Movements

not just rejecting and detesting What others do, by accusing “them”, but accusing ourselves as long as we bear the role of victims (yes, of course regards from Foucault). So, establishing such movements, in daily life has to be about

  • not allowing sexual abuse – and not giving in when peers suggest “it is nothing nit fun”,
  • not accepting precarious jobs and working conditions – though others may suggest that we are lazy, and tough real life suggests that a bird in the hand might be worth two in the bush
  • not allowing administrations taking the lead in universities, schools and political affairs though we risk rebukes

and not allowing others using the mobile phone, permanently interrupting the communication, not allowing the other to remain without answering and not allowing the mocking, suggesting that parents now, using their e-vehicle to bring the kids to the Friday rally asking for effective climate protection. Isn’t our acceptance to often a neglect easy ending up in rape of minds and praxis? Finally, all this is about self-determination as a fundamental right.

Power … – also of words

One of the rare occasions that I use this space for simply reproducing from another site. Words have power … – if we use them to become ourselves powerful.

On 12 June 1942, Anne Frank received a notebook covered by a red-and-white plaid for her 13th birthday. She made it her diary, which went on to become one of the world’s most famous books. She would have turned 90 tomorrow.

From this day until 1 August 1944, she put down in words what it was like to live in a ‘Secret Annex’, the cluster of rooms with blacked out windows above Anne’s father’s office in Amsterdam where Anne, her sister Margot, her parents and four of their acquaintances hid from the Nazis.

She recorded her most intimate thoughts and feelings, describing the pressures of communal living mixed with spells of raw terror at moments of near discovery.

In addressing the journal directly as “Dear Kitty”, as though composing a letter, Anne takes the reader on a journey, a very personal one, yet paradoxically, one so many of us can somehow relate to. Because it speaks a language many of us can connect to. For instance:

“It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart”. 

Can we not somehow relate these words to the current political turmoil Europe is going through? Her words are powerful. And that power remains independent from age, social status, nationality. It is universal and her book rightly became iconic.

Anne Frank aspired to become a journalist, writing the following on Wednesday, 5 April 1944:

“I finally realised that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that’s what I want! I know I can write …, but it remains to be seen whether I really have talent …

And if I don’t have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can’t imagine living like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! …

I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me!

When I write, I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?”

As a journalist, I take pride in sharing these words with you. This way, you and I contribute to keeping the memory of Anne Frank alive. It is also a way to recognise what a great writer she already was.