Social Inclusion – Social Exclusion: Physical Exercise as Means Between Strengthening Individuals and Integration into Collectivities

The article

Social Inclusion – Social Exclusion: Physical Exercise as Means Between Strengthening Individuals and Integration into Collectivities

is now online [her for the DOI], before it is available in the printed version of the The International Journal of the History of Sport


Physical exercise, beyond the mere physical aspect, is very much a social construct. But it is as well a means of constructing the social and as such it can be used in different ways. The contribution, taking a broad comparative perspective, will reflect on two major possibilities: the one may be called social inclusion as subordination and the other can be looked at as a matter of social inclusion by strengthening individuals. This also allows an understanding of new dangers of exclusion in the era of liquid modernity.



Uploaded also this text now, dealing with the Vatican Spring on ‘my’ researchgate-site – kind of old stuff, though still of interest I suppose, reflecting on the limits of a ‘new catholicism’. As such it is also relevant as reflection of the limited meaning of religious ‘revolutionary claims’.


revista interdisciplinar

Peter Herrmann *



Tanto en los discursos de —o acerca de— la economía como en los discursos de —y acerca de— la ética se puede observar una evidente abstinencia mutual, y esto independientemente de la orientación política. Y si un lado reconoce la existencia del otro, suele ser más para identificarlo como su antagonista. Este prefacio, que se centra en la pregunta de si un ‘nuevo fantasma recorre el mundo’ desde la elección de Jorge Mario Bergoglio como máximo Pontífice —el espectro de una orientación católica fundamentalmente renovada— se propone discutir ese ‘despertar’ sugerido por muchos comentaristas desde una perspectiva más amplia. Al adoptar un punto de vista más amplio, llegamos a la conclusión de que existe una cierta necesidad de increpar al individualismo y al economismo desde una perspectiva ética, pero que esos reproches quedan muy cuestionables mientras no analicen y critiquen los fundamentos estructurales de tales ‘aberraciones’. Y concluye que seguramente existe la necesidad y el espacio para un ‘renacimiento de la ética’, pero que esto sólo se puede alcanzar por medio de la intervención colectiva y de procedimientos legislativos, no por la dicha de la oración. Si el cambio pretende ser sostenible, deberá de ser drástico, mucho más que ligeros rasguños en la superficie; y si el cambio pretende ser justo, deberá de ser estructural en lugar de moral.

Palabras clave: Iglesia Católica, ética, economía, reforma, sociedad.

The cat’s tale – the difficulty of academia then and now

It seems to be relatively easy to deal with Schroedinger’s cat – the question is well known:


Schrödinger wanted people to imagine that a cat, poison, a geiger counter, radioactive material, and a hammer were inside of a sealed container. The amount of radioactive material was minuscule enough that it only had a 50/50 shot of being detected over the course of an hour. If the geiger counter detected radiation, the hammer would smash the poison, killing the cat. Until someone opened the container and observed the system, it was impossible to predict if the cat’s outcome. Thus, until the system collapsed into one configuration, the cat would exist in some superposition zombie state of being both alive and dead.[2]

The one way of dealing with it is to open the box in order to see if the cat is alive or not. However, it is a way of dealing with the problem by actually denying it as checking, giving ‘empirical evidence’ in actual fact changes the conditions to such an extent that, what had been the question at the outset is actually redefined: the conditions from which the question emerged are not anymore given.

The other way is to admit that there is no answer and that there cannot be any answer for ever. One could see this as a purely academic issue – though this is probably seen differently by the cat – being eternally in a situation of not knowing if her is dead or alive which must admittedly a hugely unpleasant state of existence. And both ‘easy answers’ prevail when we are looking at academia, in particular universities: researching, studying and teaching. One question may be asked though: what is if we simply look at the tale, not the entire cat but also not something that exists only as chimera?

Some reflections on the development of third level education today can be found here, impressions and reports, resulting from having worked in China for two years at a ‘joint venture’ between a EUropean and a Chinese university, and reflecting more general trends than really anything like ‘this is China’. And also reflecting on a general trend of supposed academic education where one learns not to agree with but to follow rules, where you have to like numbers but yu do nit have to like maths … – at the end where you should end with a major that makes sure that the cat is dead while the mice are dancing a bubble dance, appealingly majoring in accounting without understanding the economy of which it takes account.


[1]  ; 27/07/17

[2]            IFLScience – The lighter sight of science: Schrödinger’s Cat: Explained;ödinger’s-cat-explained/; 27/07/17

knowledge, education, digitalisation, information …

… or what is all this about?

Just stumbling upon the two more or less recent publications:

Peter   Herrmann,   Fan   Hong, and Remi Rzepka: Education in an International Setting. In Leonid E. Grinin, Ilya V. Ilyin, Peter Herrmann,   and   Andrey   V.   Korotayev   (eds.), Globalistics and Globalization Studies: Global Transformations and Global Future: 76-92. Volgograd: ‘Uchitel’ Publishing House, 2016

In this volume there is also a co-authored introduction:

Leonid Grinin, Ilya Ilyin, Peter Herrmann, and Andrey Korotayev: Introduction. How Global Can Be Global Future? In Leonid E. Grinin, Ilya V. Ilyin, Peter Herrmann,   and   Andrey   V.   Korotayev   (eds.), Globalistics and Globalization Studies: Global Transformations and Global Future. Volgograd: ‘Uchitel’ Publishing House, 2016: 5–9

Для дополнительной информации


Working now a bit more on this topic, also for the conference

Education and Globalization – Opportunities and Challenges

教育与全球化 – 机遇与挑战

organised by

  • Central South University of Forestry and Technology中南林业科技大学
  • Bangor University班戈大学
  • British Consulate-General in Guangzhou英国驻广州总领事馆

and scheduled for the 5th of July, 2017.

All that will then be middle of this month available on my other sites – here and here, also a bit more from another side … .

… first want to close this door behind me, with a bit more time then.



At least somewhat ‘strange’ or: occupying the occupied

At least somewhat ‘strange’ – or at least remarkable: the fact of being occupied by social spaces and occupying social spaces, namely cities.

It is several years ago that I visited Vienna the first time, and I returned a couple of times. The first time was somewhat unpleasant – unpleasant in terms of disliking the place as exhibiting imperial power. Indeed, having known Budapest already, I joined in the popular saying: Budapest is the ‘nicer Vienna’. The nicer Vienna because it was seen as the city where people, real people, would live. One could surely move towards issues like the ‘Hungarian soul’: a bit of permanent resistance and suffering going hand in hand – Leiden, dass dann führt zu Leidenschaft und Leidenschaft, die Leiden schafft.

Vienna … a space that presented itself to me as occupying, remaining unapproachable, remote … . Anyway, what did it matter? It had been another business trip amongst many. Not so on one later occasion. Actually it may be that I went there for business but in the meantime a friend of mine, Viennese whom I knew for many years from Brussels, lived in Vienna again and I remember that I stayed in his apartment. Another district, in short: Working class Vienna. Much could be said … In a nutshell it was the experience that allowed me to occupy space. Sure, local knowledge helped – the ‘local guide’ who showed me also those places next to the ‘imperial exhibits’: the people’s park, one or the other coffeehouse: and as much as Vienna is shaped by the gallant Cafe Centrale, Vienna is characterised by those Kaffeehäuser that are a bit dingy, humming along with the croaking sound of the violin, the waiters apparently competing in ignoring the guests, the Volksbuhne and those spaces that are occupied the peculiar charm of bohemian, intellectual, critical debates …

Anyway, I returned later on different occasions, stayed in different quarters, though mostly in district VII and VIII. The city gained space, I gave it space in my life even if only for the short times of my stays, always remaining visitor even barely coming as tourist – it had been about short business trips to the government, to conferences, or as the last time for teaching … and of course unforgettable: one year the visit with my students and my friend Joe.

The city gained space, I gave it space in my life …. – even visiting the imperial places as the museum of history of arts – a specifically lost ground which, by the way, hosts also a beautiful collection of Pieter Bruegel’s the older works –, the Albertina and its private collection, the state opera, the Burgtheater and yes, the Cafe Centrale, I visited as well the people’s park, the People’s opera, and the several small galleries and theaters, local stages, the Kaffeehäuser and restaurants … Mixing, merging … becoming a place where the different circles of debates, culture, ordinariness are emerging as a new normal, merging as living space, lived space for some time – not necessarily to be agreed with, but to a large part challenging, demanding to be … occupied again and again.


And Budapest? – Yes, it is still, with its own eccentricities, the beloved place, also the place to meet a good friend …, and yes, there is the shadow of de-occupation: the city loosing its very specific charm which I learned to love, I tried to capture a little bit in the Diary from a Journey into another World: Diaries against nationalism, inspired by trying to overcome personal resentments.

About the real realities of the presence …

… not the realities of a proposed future in the making,

There we are talking about digitalisation, the abundance of today’s society and zero-marginality, of course often or not, considering, admitting, commiserating the poverty, asking even for changes of the distribution and policies of distribution, allowing the “inclusion”. Looking honestly at the other sides, we should surely register also the “exclusion of mindfulness”, the fact that the reference we use is actually itself exclusive, establishing a real- and mind-set that evokes and even is excluding. In his book Mike Davis, looking at the Planet of Slums, we find on Page 49 the decisive statement:

“Most displaced … are social outcasts, excluded from formal life and employment.”

 – important to note that he is quoting an aid NGO.

The attempts to arrive at a really integrated approach, understanding concisely the intimate link, are at least today too often caught in a certain kind of “positivity/Positiveness of the future” – be it by looking at the Precariat as the New Dangerous Class
In sum, all these positive approaches are overestimating – for one or another reason – the somewhat futurist view, proposing some new normal, and easily forgetting that fact that for many life is still actually still “the normal we thought to be overcome fro some time already”, the suggested “historic, early normal”.
Sure, development is rapid – we find also his statement in Davis’ book:
Angola, only 14 percent urban in 1970, is now a majority urban nation. Most of its city-dwellers are both desperately poor and almost totally ignored by the state, which in 1998 was estimated to spend only 1 percent of its budget on public education and welfare. The unending civil wars in Colombia likewise have added more than 400,000 IDPs to Bogota’s urban poverty belt, which includes the huge informal settlements of Sumapaz, Ciudad Bolivar, Usme, and Soacha.
And although I think we are too often look at crude data which do not really say anything about life and what it is about here is another figure, taken from Davis’ book:
If UN data are accurate, the household per-capita income differential between a rich city like Seattle and a very poor city like Ibadan is as great as 739 to 1 – an incredible inequality.
A gentle reminder to the readers of the blog — whenever the modern and “postmodern” world is looked at on these pages, taking the “positive outlook” the author is well aware of the ore “positivist perspective”, if you want: the story told by the reality as it is shown by the far too many real lives standing behind every “single figure” that amounts to the brute reality of global capitalist development that is by no means flat and where talking about Postcapitalism as a Guide to Our Future is really more science fiction and should realistically not be seen as vision.

Artificial Intelligence – and the Reduction of Being

Both quotes are from Hannah Arendt’s Human Conditions, 43 and 41 respectively (Arendt, Hannah, 1958: The Human Condition; Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press). Aren’t they saying much about what Artificial Intelligence is about – and how much it depends on the reduction of ourselves?

The unfortunate truth about behaviorism and the validity of its “laws” is that the more people there are, the more likely they are to behave and the less likely to tolerate non-behavior. Statistically, this will be shown in the leveling out of fluctuation. In reality, deeds will have less and less chance to stem the tide of behavior, and events will more and more lose their significance, that is, their capacity to illuminate historical time. Statistical uniformity is by no means a harmless scientific ideal; it is the no longer secret political ideal of a society which, entirely submerged in the routine of everyday living, is at peace with the scientific outlook inherent in its very existence.
This modern equality, based on the conformism inherent in society and possible only because behavior has replaced action as the foremost mode of human relationship, is in every respect different from equality in antiquity, and notably in the Greek city-states.