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». Kiriakakis.net. Hentet November 14, 2013 (http://kiriakakis.net/comics/mused/a-day-at-the-park).
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.