Great stuff other people have done – a new category on this blog

With this post, I am going to introduce a new thing on this blog.

Sometimes I come across some great stuff other people have done, which overlaps themes I explore and discuss as part of the Artcademia project. In these cases, I get excited and feel like they – like all good thoughts and ideas – should be shared to reach a wider audience.

I will therefore occasionally post a link to some great stuff other people have done, and maybe add a few commentary thoughts on how I think the work at hand touches upon themes I am interested in with the Artcademia project.

One such great work is a comic made by Kostas Kiriakakis (Kiriakakis 2013). It can be seen on his homepage here:

Mused – A day at the park

It is a sweet little story about the importance of asking questions and never settle with the answers you’ve got. This comic is interesting in an Artcademia perspective, since it facilitates learning in an engaging way by combining philosophical considerations and art in a moving dialogue.

In searching for why this is a good idea, one can start by asking(!): how would the very same arguments appear without the drawings?

And, would these philosophical considerations have made as efficient an impression, if they were not spun into an easy relatable narrative?

Plato is of course the classic example of discussing philosophical questions through dialogue (See fx Platon 1954, 2001 (danish versions)). He, more than anybody, knew the power of dragging the listener into thinking on his own, in this way; if a question is posed to a character in a text, it simultaneously presents itself as a question to the reader. Plato therefore (and for a couple of other reasons) shaped almost his entire authorship in the form of dialogues, often situated in a simple narrative. In these sophisticated dialogues, his character Socrates (to some degree based on Plato’s own teacher) is asking critical questions to his fellow men of ancient Greece, who, for their part represent different philosophical positions and arguments. This dialogue-‘form’ surely has its advantages, and Plato is a highly recommendable read. It teaches not only the philosophical arguments and positions, but also trains ones ability to think as well as understand the nuances and contradictions within philosophical problems.

As it is evident in Plato, the idea of ‘the importance of the question’, as Kiriakakis promotes with his comic, is absolutely essential to philosophy and critical thinking. The approach of curios questioning is also closely related to learning, since processes of learning often requires (self)questioning of what you already (think you) know. In associating learning with critique, I am inspired by the thinking of Adorno (Adorno 1973, 1977, 2005) and Honneth (Honneth 2011) who promote the idea of critique as a practice producing new perspectives. I should briefly mention, that art also has been attributed a similar potential (Larsen 2009:134). I thus understand ‘critique’ as a certain kind of sensitivity towards the world, always aware of there being ‘something  additional’ to the matter than presented in a single way – or in several. I have begun the development of these thoughts in the article ‘About Artcademia’ (mostly Danish) and in my Masters thesis (English), and I will continuously do so in the core of the Artcademia project.

In order not to be blinded by the knowledge, which one is presented to, or one already persists, one must give prior to the question; or, to an attitude – or ethos – of critique.

A normative statement would hence suggest that nothing should remain unquestioned. And to gently spin that point around for the connoisseurs, ‘nothing’ is of course also to be understood as an important issue to address with philosophical questioning, as a it has been done from Parmenides to Sartre and beyond.

So, both ‘everything’ and ‘nothing’ is worth questioning from a human perspective. Not the least because we are also potentially capable of not doing so, which puts us at risk of uncritical overtaking/acceptance of dangerous (political, ideological, religious and even ‘scientific’) perspectives and ideas presented to us (not to say that all political, ideological, religious and scientific perspectives are dangerous). History provides plenty of such examples.

A lot can be written about why questions are important. Another way to approach it is through a comic. Please enjoy the remarkable elegancy with which Kiriakakis is illustrating the value of asking questions:

Mused – A day at the park

Bibliography for the article

Adorno, Theodor W. 1977. «The actuality of philosophy». Telos.

Adorno, Theodor W. 2005. Minima Moralia – Reflections from the damaged life.

Adorno, Theodor W. Adorno. 1973. Negative Dialectics. The digital reprint 2006. London and New York: Routledge.

Honneth, Axel. 2011. «Om Möjligheten av en Upplåtande Kritik». Fronesis – Kritik (36-37).

Kiriakakis, Kostas. 2013. «A DAY AT THE PARK | Kostas Kiriakakis». Hentet November 14, 2013 (

Platon. 1954. Platons skrifter – Theaitetos. redigeret af Carsten Høeg og Hans Raeder. København: C. A. Reitzels Forlag. Axel Sandal.

Platon. 2001. Staten. 9.oplag udg. København: Hans Reitzels Forlag.

Contemporary society circle, a new Artcademia investigation

Contemporary society circle, a new Artcademia investigation

It is indeed a puzzling question what kind of society we are living in today. Many can agree, that it is no longer adequate to claim that we are living in the industrial era. But what term should we use to describe the present society in those parts of the world, which are often referred to as ‘western society’ or ‘the developed’ countries?

Is there only one correct term? Are there many correct terms? Or any correct term at all? Is it simply misleading to talk about it as if it is possible to describe contemporary society adequately with a single term?

The investigation will consists of a discussion of these questions in the meta-text as well as gathering all of the currently used terms, trying to capture the conditions defining contemporary society in a single concept. In time each of these concepts will be described as part of the ‘contemporary society circle’, which in itself is an exploration of what an Artcademia-piece can be.

I am currently working on the meta-text, so until the first full version is ready (I expect it to develop as the investigation unfolds, as it is also the case with the ‘Tree of marxism’), I have just posted a preliminary introduction text to go along with the graphic Artcademia-piece. You can see the ‘Contemporary society circle’ here:

 Contemporary society circle 7nov13

All comments, suggestions and suggestions to concepts I am missing, ideas, or philosophical critique is as always much appreciated.

In contrast to the investigation on Marxism, I have chosen to do this one in English. Mostly because I felt like it, but also because the terms used to describe contemporary society are trying to grasp conditions in the English speaking parts of the world (whether it be the native tongue or the second language), which makes it a choice coherent with the subject matter. These are concepts immanently and self-reflectingly emerging from their own context.


In other news, I can report, that I am also working on the third version of the ‘Tree of Marxism’. It is not quite ready for release, but I can reveal, that I have added 10-15 authors to the tree, and that there will be up to 10 new pages of text spread around the ‘branches’. I am looking forward to posting that as well.