It’s all about the money, right? Past, present and future of NSU

Dutch historian Rutger Bregman asks the question whether people are inherently bad or good. Should we follow Hobbes’ view that civilisation is necessary in order to keep the bad at bay, or should we listen to Rousseau who claimed that it was civilisation that had corrupted men? In his book ‘De meeste mensen deugen‘ (which will be published in English in a few days as ‘Humankind: A Hopeful History‘) Bregman analyses a ton of scientific research – from archaeology to psychology, biology and political scientific research – to show that although we tell ourselves differently, mankind is inherently good. And that research that seemed to show otherwise (think Milgram’s experiment, consider the Stanford prison experiment) are actually based on a false representation of the facts that resulted from those experiments. People were not bad or evil, but when scientists push them in a certain direction people will follow. Because if there is a flaw to humanity, according to Bregman, it is that they want to help others, even if that means they need to do bad things.

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Exploring the Nordic Summer University Archive: tracing the conversation over 70 years of NSU existence

Researching the conversations at the Nordic Summer University from 1950 until 2020, I’ve been spending a week at the Danish National Archive, going through thousands of letters, reports, program leaflets. It’s been a great experience so far.

My aim with this specific research project (funded by NSU and The Nordics) is to trace the spirit of NSU, to trace the study programs throughout the years and see how they changed. Some things have been written about this, most notably Kritik og Krise written by several NSU-ers and published in 2000 (which can be downloaded here: But the chapter in that book that talks about the study program is mostly anecdotal, and clearly not systematic.

Although there are some things that are more known, like how feminist studies in Scandinavia started at NSU, I want to explore this question more systematically. In this project I want to know everything there is to know about the study program. (Ambitious, right?!) How did it develop over the years? What choices were made, based on what requirements? I want to find out how the conversation changed over the years.

The Nordic Summer University is a voluntary organisation where researchers, artists and basically anybody can start a ‘study circle’: a topic that is discussed during individual circle meetings in the winter and at the summer session, where all circles meet for some days, a week or even longer. The topics of the study circle were apparently interesting and important enough for people to spend their time and energy on, and attracted other people who were interested to discuss these topics together at the Nordic Summer University. Tracing these conversations at NSU therefore means tracing the conversations of the nordic countries, of what was considered important and fundamental to study together in an interdisciplinary and intellectually stimulating environment.

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Tracing the Spirit of the Nordic Summer University: preparing the research

As part of the project ‘Tracing the Spirit of the Nordic Summer University‘ that culminates in the 70th anniversary of the Nordic Summer University in 2020, several projects have been selected to do (artistic) reseach on a specific those traces. I also applied, and my project was accepted. Which means I’ll be going to the National Archive in Denmark that holds the physical archive of NSU, to do research.

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Are you ready for Steady? For when you’re serious about writing

Serious writing requires serious support.

So… you would like to make (more) money with writing things. Sure. Easy peasy. Right? Well… are you ready for steady?

Well, maybe it’s not that easy. Earning steem is nice. Or getting paid for an article being published here or there. But it is also pretty unpredictable. At least it is less predictable than the amount of rent you need to pay each month. And let’s not forget the electricity bills, and all those other things that pile up. Living is expensive.

So I’d like to introduce to you: Steady. A tool used by quite some online writers and online magazines to get a steady flow of support.

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Het Thuis van de Mens

Soms kom je ergens een artikel tegen dat je jaren geleden schreef en niet onaardig is.

Soms heeft de filosofie al door wat er aan de hand is, vijftig jaar voordat het zichtbaar wordt. Teruggrijpen naar dode schrijvers en denkers is dan helemaal niet raar. Toch vergt het redelijk wat vertaling naar de tegenwoordige tijd. Het ‘thuis van de mens’ is zo’n concept wat wel wat vertaling kan gebruiken.

Wanneer we iemand tegenkomen en willen weten wie die persoon is, vragen we vaak om haar naam, en vervolgens waar zij vandaan komt. Dat is niet zo raar. Die naam is handig om mensen te kunnen onderscheiden, en de plek waar we wonen gaat over ons thuis, over waar we onszelf zijn. Maar wat betekent dat ‘onszelf zijn’ en wat heeft wonen daar mee te maken? Gelukkig heeft Martin Heidegger (Duitsland, 1889 – 1976) dat al voor ons onderzocht.  Continue reading “Het Thuis van de Mens”

Truth has never been sexy – let's focus on the real issues please

It should be extremely clear to everyone that truth is besides the point. And has been for decades already. 

Truth does not exist. It is not something you can simply point out and say: look at that, that is the truth. Truth is made. Truth exists only in a particular world, in which specific rules and regulations about what is reality matter. Truth is always subjective, as it depends on which world you live in on what kind of rules you will follow, what truth-procedures you follow. And truth is always objective, as within that specific world with its truth-procedures, that truth is the truth, no matter who says it or who thinks it. That is the truth, and nothing but the truth (so help me God). Continue reading “Truth has never been sexy – let's focus on the real issues please”

Zij en Wij – Het Omarmen van de Paradox

Wat heeft hedendaagse filosofie te bieden in deze tijd waarin populisme van allerlei kanten op de loert ligt? In dit artikel ga ik in op werk van Boris Groys, Emmanuel Levinas en Bracha Ettinger om twee benaderingen van de Ander te analyseren.

Veel van de huidige politieke ontwikkelingen spelen zich af rond het fenomeen dat in de continentale filosofie wel met ‘het probleem van de Ander’ wordt aangeduid. Emmanuel Levinas omschreef dit ongeveer als volgt: Er is iets dat zich buiten mijn eigen wereld bevindt, waar ik niet langer omheen kan, waar ik iets mee moet. Het is anders, het is niet-ik. Het is het denken in het zij en wij, een fundamentele tegenstelling waarop onze wereld is gebaseerd. We herkennen probleem in het vluchtelingenvraagstuk, bij de discriminatie van vrouwen, en in Europese discussies zoals BrexitContinue reading “Zij en Wij – Het Omarmen van de Paradox”

They and Us – Embracing the Paradox

What do Boris Gorys, Giorgio Agamben and Emmanuel Levinas have to say about how we are dealing with the threat of the Other – the immigrant, the religious, the woman? They warn for an oversimplification that leads to populism, and how the best approach involves dealing with paradox.

Many of the contemporary political developments are based on a phenomenon that in continental philosophy is called ‘the problem of the Other‘. The thinking of they and us. Emmanuel Levinas described this somewhat as follows: There is something outside of my own world, something which appears to me and which I can no longer ignore, I have to do something with it. It is other, it is not-I.  Continue reading “They and Us – Embracing the Paradox”

Can Women Think? A Contemplation and an Invitation

Listen to my talk on the role of women – in society, in philosophy. How can we allow for female thought to have a voice? With an introduction by Professor Hoda Mahmoudi of the University of Maryland. I’m looking forward to your responses, your questions, your support. As the Dutch poet Lucebert once said… all that is valuable is defenseless…

Can women think? What kind of a ridiculous question is that? It is a stupid question, specially if a woman is going to ask it and give an answer, right? Either she cannot think – and whatever she says needs to be dismissed as nonsense. And you don’t even need to listen to me. Or she can think, but then you already know the answer, so why are you reading this?  Continue reading “Can Women Think? A Contemplation and an Invitation”

The Ethics of Being First

Making distinction in order define oneself on the basis of what something is not, instead of having an holistic approach, is responsible for the main problems of humanity. Difference is what perpetuates poverty, climate change, social inequality, genocide, and war.

When D.J. Trump spoke his inaugural speech, many things he said were obscured through the simplicity of the words he used. One of those is the phrase “America First”.

Being first can mean different things. Whatever meaning you prefer, it refers to a politics of difference that is detrimental to the whole. Continue reading “The Ethics of Being First”