Living in and for academia – an international[ist] perspective

Published is a presentation given on the 4th of July in ChangSha, PRC, looking against the personal background from an academic perspective at the topic of international and global education. While sociology, economics, political science, law and arts are explicitly mentioned, philosophy remains as companion of all in the background. Highlighted is the need to regain and maintain academic integrity.

The video-recording, in some respect an extension to the interview published recently, can be found here.

Learned from the time I lived in Australia, and altered all this is not least about the statement that

I fully acknowledge the Right and Duty of the students to learn in a way that allows not only to administer their own life and land in a globally respectful way, to study the possibilities to work and connect with the world that is respectful against themselves, against their fellow beings past, present and emerging.

Annunci

… no waiting anymore …

finally the short holidays are over, back to the students and the seminars, the really exciting side of teaching … so no waiting anymore, not even for Godot

Vien dietro a me, e lascia dir le genti:
sta come torre ferma, che non crolla
già mai la cima per soffiar di venti …
Dante Alighieri:
and there on the Purgatorio, Canto V

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.

old stuff …, and the summit …

Sure, it would be worthwhile to post some photos now (yes, these meetings have their most enjoyable beautywatch from ca minute 5:32), (though I remember a more exciting performance I visited some years back, Tan Dun was the head behind some “organic compositions“) or the first reports from the Hangzhou-meetings …,

But it is usually clear in advance what happens – and critique was raised earlier.

And anyway, something  else comes to mind .. and came to my mind these two days. It is so often that we talk about these big institutions, and is so often that we talk about checks and balances …, and indeed, I would not be as optimist as others when it comes to the diminishing power of the IMF … there are surely these centers of power, machine like, making individuals functioning like cogwheels (and earning pretty well by doing so). And even the big shots are very much only representatives. Or as we read in the Economic Manuscripts.

… here individuals are dealt with only in so far as they are the personifications of economic categories, embodiments of particular class-relations and class-interests. My standpoint, from which the evolution of the economic formation of society is viewed as a process of natural history, can less than any other make the individual responsible for relations whose creature he socially remains, however much he may subjectively raise himself above them.

Still, we should not forget that the power is not least with real people. Sure, there are networks, there are academics involved and there are even spaces for open debate .. but at the end it is a small number of of people who control all this. Obvious in the economy and in politics.

And there is in exactly this context something else that is interesting – and that is easily forgotten. Yes, there is all this hype about technologies, gadgets and the control by algorithms. And although we know that the control is “owned”, that there are real people making money out of it, we easily forget this over the fear, thinking about a data-octopus, being uncontrolled and gathering all the data, data then controlling themselves …, and us, selling friends. Yes,

Facebook sells your friends

And although the article is already from 2016, and thus many things changed, it is still worth reading, nicely showing the actual faces of the authors of Facebook … – or should I write: the faces of the actual authors of Facebook.

Yes, all these algorithms have authors, as much as all these political institutions have heads with faces and brains ….es, with complex networks, protecting their ambitions:

Even as Apple became the nation’s most profitable technology company, it avoided billions in taxes in the United States and around the world through a web of subsidiaries so complex it spanned continents and went beyond anything most experts had ever seen, Congressional investigators disclosed on Monday.

… but that is not least something for tomorrow, back in the classroom … (as it was for yesterday)

 

PS: Yes, and not only Merkel made a photo with her mobile — though I am not sure if it was posted on FB 😉

questions are a knife

In the realm of totalitarian kitsch, all answers are given in advance and preclude any questions. It follows, then, that the true opponent of totalitarian kitsch is the person who asks questions. A question is like a knife that slices through the stage backdrop and gives us a look at what lies hidden behind it. In fact, that was exactly how Sabina had explained the meaning of her paintings to Tereza: on the surface, an intelligible lie; underneath, the unintelligible truth showing through.

But the people who struggle against what we call totalitarian regimes cannot function with queries and doubts. They, too, need certainties and simple truths to make the multitudes understand, to provoke collective tears.

….

Kitsch has its source in the categorical agreement with being.
But what is the basis of being? God? Mankind? Struggle? Love? Man? Woman?

Since opinions vary, there are various kitsches: Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Communist, Fascist, democratic, feminist, European, American, national, international.

….

Shit is a more onerous theological problem than is evil. Since God gave man freedom, we can, if need be, accept the idea that He is not responsible for man’s crimes. The responsibility for shit, however, rests entirely with Him, the Creator of man.

From:

“The Unbearable Lightness Of Being” by Milan Kundera

Studying, Responsibility and Ethics

Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.
Albert Einstein

I uploaded a series of presentations given to students of economics at 中南林业科技大学班戈学院/Bangor College CSUFT in Changsha, Hunan Province in China.

The title/subject of the course these presentations introduced is “Learning Skills” – the recommended book rather stupidifying, assuming students are naive, pursuing a formalist approach to learn – and moreover reducing academic work on the approach: “Give me an answer. We will then look for the question.” It is also the way in which we ignore what is attributed to Einstein’s wisdom, namely that
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
I tried in these lectures to raise awareness of the importance of questions, working towards an preliminary or introductory understanding of methodology.
And I tried also to make students aware of the need to counter the
 The lectures used in particular arts and history (and a bit of arts history) as means to delve into different aspects of the relevant topics. – Although there are a few references immediately to my Economics course her ein China, the presentation is relevant (and can be understood) beyond this.
The videos can be found here – they also show the used slides (sorry for the audio-quality – but one gets used to it after a while).
The last lecture, given shortly after the attacks in the middle of November 2015, draws particular attention on ethical aspects and questions of responsibility.
Revised versions of the slides can be found on my researchgate site at

Pillage – Plundering

Le grand risque est que les gens croient qu’il y a création de richesses la ou il n’y a qu’enrichissement. L’argent ne peut se faire que sur la captation d’une valeur ajoutée. La rémunération du capital n’est pas un gain pour la collectivité, quand elle ne correspond pas à une production de biens ou services supplémentaires. Ce n’est qu’un mécanisme de pillage sophistiqué.

(Guy Hascoët: L’économie solidaire au cœur des nouvelles régulations économiques – I found it in Mai 2002 on http://www.social.gouv.fr/economie-solidaire/economie/econo_sol/ascoet.htm)