Why, ‘In the Beginning, Woman was the Sun’?: Japanese Feminism as a Challenge to Philosophy in Europe

We would like to believe that academia is an open space in which we embody our freedom of thinking. We would like to think that philosophy allows us to talk about the importance of cultural diversity, inclusion and mutual understanding. If we can’t bring to light the voice of the oppressed and the marginalised from this side of academia, who would possibly do that in the unfriendly world outside?  

I would like us to take a step back and ask ourselves if the field of philosophy is near realising these ideals. How are we doing in terms of gender equality? Are there any structural racism, lack of cultural diversity and socio-economic disparity? Because we tacitly believe in the universal validity of philosophical thinking, philosophy seems to enjoy a kind of homogeneity. But this idea of the universal too is rooted in a particular European historic-cultural milieu. As a result, we seem to be left with the vast sphere of human existence saturated with cultural, linguistic, and philosophic diversity and yet we seem to learn little or nothing about them as we study the history of philosophy at a European university.

The purpose of this lecture is not to point fingers or to instigate an intellectual food fight. But it is to explore the difficulty of studying contemporary Japanese philosophy with a special focus on Japanese Feminism. In the process of approaching this theme, we will see how easily we can make assumptions that prevent us from recognising the wide range of insight which is readily available in the field of “world philosophies.” It will also show how seriously compromising these assumptions can be to an integrity of our philosophical investigation. In turn and most importantly, we will see how stimulating it is for us to be able to step in and out of the lines that we draw in accord with the European philosophical tradition; and lastly, we will be able to see the problem of Japanese feminism as ours in Europe. This existential reading of Japanese feminism may show us the brilliance of the famous line, “In the beginning, woman was the sun.” 

Takeshi Morisato is currently serving as the editor of the European Journal of Japanese Philosophy, an associate editor of the Journal of East Asian Philosophy (Springer), the general editor of the book series, “Studies in Japanese Philosophy” (Chisokudō Publications) and “Asian Philosophical Texts” (Mimesis International), and the regional editor of the “Bloomsbury Introduction to World Philosophies.” He works on several book projects on a yearly basis and strongly believes that landing on a tenure track job with Japanese philosophy is harder than catching a unicorn.

Why Snowden and not Greenwald? On the accountability of the press for unauthorized disclosures

In 2013, following the leaks by Edward Snowden, The Guardian published a number of classified NSA documents. Both leaking and publishing leaks violate the law prohibiting unauthorized disclosures. Accordingly, there are two potential targets for prosecution: The leakers and the press. In actual legal and political practice, however, only civil servants who leak classified information are prosecuted: Snowden is facing a threat of 30 years’ imprisonment, but no charges have been raised against The Guardian. If both leaking and publishing classified information violate the law, why prosecute only the leakers and not the press? I consider six arguments to justify the practice of selective prosecution, but conclude that the current prosecution practice is inconsistent: If the prosecution targets leakers, it should also target the press. If the press goes unpunished, so should the leakers.

Dorota Mokrosinska (PhD (cum laude), Amsterdam 2007) is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Philosophy at Leiden University. She held appointments at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Amsterdam, and Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. In 2019/2020 she was awarded a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Faculty Fellowship at the Center for Human Values at Princeton University. Dr Mokrosinska is laureate of an ERC Starting Grant awarded by the European Research Council directing a research project “Democratic Secrecy: A Philosophical Study of the Role of Secrecy in Democratic Governance”. Her published papers take up questions concerning political authority and obligation, privacy, secrecy and transparency in democratic politics and media ethics. She is the author of “Rethinking Political Obligation: Moral Principles, Communal Ties, Citizenship” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), co-editor (with B. Roessler) of “Social Dimensions of Privacy: Interdisciplinary Perspectives” (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and “Secrecy and Transparency in European Democracies: Contested Trade-Offs” (Routledge, 2020). Currently she is working on a monograph “Secrecy and Democracy: A Philosophical Inquiry” for Routledge.

Verwondering: een genealogie

Filosofie begint in verwondering – zo beweren althans Plato (in de Theaetetus) en Aristoteles (in de Metafysica). Maar verwondering en wijsheid hebben al eeuwenlang een turbulente relatie: denkers hebben de verwondering vereerd en verguisd, verheven tot het hoogste waartoe de mens in staat is (Goethe) of verworpen als het grootste obstakel voor het menselijk geluk (Horatius). Rik Peters analyseert via een genealogische benadering de oorsprong en de beperkingen van onze opvattingen over verwondering. Deze ideeëngeschiedenis – van Archilochus tot Cornelis Verhoeven en van Jezus Christus tot Richard Dawkins – leert ons dat onze huidige waardering voor de verwondering niet vanzelfsprekend is: verwondering is niet alleen leuk, maar ook gevaarlijk.

Rik Peters studeerde filosofie en klassieke talen aan de UvA, waar hij ook college heeft gegeven over wetenschapsfilosofie en Foucault. Hij doet momenteel promotieonderzoek aan de University of Chicago (in de departementen Classics en Social Thought) over Hellenistische filosofie.

Re-/Dis-/Enchantment. Star Wars and the Back-and-forth of Mythical Consciousness

If the program of Modernity in general – and of Enlightenment in particular – once was the “disenchantment of the world” (Weber), we have long learned that the forces of re-enchantment are equally strong in today’s global culture. Stories and rituals in everyday life, advertisements, entertainment, and political programs – they all tend to include some purposely enchanting aspects, something mythical (and sometimes magical), ranging from little delightful illusions to the manifest delusions of heavy political weight.

In these phenomena the dynamics of disenchantment and re-enchantment unfold dialectically which, among other things, means that it has been a great back-and-forth of enchantment, disenchantment, and re-enchantment. To understand the deeper structures of this dialectic and the place it takes today, I suggest studying the aesthetics of mythical consciousness in pop-culture. Star Wars offers itself as a prime example to do so, for it got it all: magic, ideology, humor, stupidity, genius, grandeur, and trash. And most importantly, it speaks to the mythical understanding of its audience in some complex ways, providing plenty of material to a philosophical inquiry informed by more traditional theories (Hegel, Weber, Adorno, Cassirer, Blumenberg), as well as more recent ones (like Bottici in philosophy, and a great deal of cultural and media studies).

Stefan Niklas is Assistant Professor in Philosophy (Critical Cultural Theory) at the University of Amsterdam. He works on issues in aesthetics, philosophy of culture, and metaphysics, both systematically and historically. He takes a particular interest in pop-culture and the ways to study it philosophically.

Of Asymmetrical Legs, Scars, Infrastructures and Exile

“Of Asymmetrical Legs, Scars, Infrastructures and Exile” is an experiment: can personal experience, artistic practice and theoretical research feed from each other? Or put differently: can writing be an artistic practice, and can any practice be dissociated from personal experience? In her work, ground functions both as material and as philosophical field of enquiry. This text aims to provide a glimpse of the political-philosophical considerations that are embedded in her work “Change on x, change on y”, a piece that re-imagines the scar on her brother’s leg as a fictive territory, playing with the multi-layered concept of trace (drawing from Derrida’s approach). Later on, a vulnerable notion of the self (Butler) links the existence of the living with the non-living realm, confronting the old concept of sovereignty (Carl Schmitt) by questioning the power that allows the distinction between a line that would separate the inside from the outside, from a jointure that indicates that while there can be distinction, things remain connected in tension. This text wishes to give ground (as unstable as it may be) to the possibility of a passing from an ethical-ontological grounding of philosophy to a political one. In this way, new “strategic belongings” may emerge.

Flora Reznik was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina where among other things she received a Diploma in Philosophy (Universidad de Buenos Aires) and co-founded the Contemporary Arts magazine CIA, directed by Roberto Jacoby. In Berlin, Reznik started working professionally as a video artist. She is currently based in The Hague, Netherlands, where she received a degree at the ArtScience Interfaculty of the Royal Academy of Art. She is active as an artist and continues to develop her work through video, performance, installation and text, which she compliments with theoretical research. Reznik until recently co-organized The Reading Room, a series of events engaging artists with scholars in a mutual exchange of knowledge and is currently the artistic director of ‘Unknown Grounds’, a performative-sympusium hosted by VHDG and Tresoar Leeuwarden, where a group of international researchers, artists and thinkers gather to explore the notion of ground and ‘open community’.

Poëzie – Piet Gerbrandy (1958) is dichter en classicus, werkzaam aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam, waar hij vooral Klassiek en Middeleeuws Latijn doceert. Zijn essaybundel Grondwater werd in 2021 bekroond met de J. Greshoffprijs, zijn laatste dichtbundel is Ontbinding (2021). Hij vertaalt uit het Grieks en Latijn en maakt deel uit van de redactie van De Gids.

Wijsgerig Festival DRIFT 2021 | 25 september 19:00 | 't Zonnehuis (Zonneplein 30, 1033 EK Amsterdam)