Living Amidst the ShadowsRoger Berkowitz
Suzy Hansen writes about the photographs and the journey of Turkish photographer Emin Özmen as he has documented Turkey’s descent from a democracy on the cusp of joining the European Union to an autocracy. Hansen collaborates with Özmen whose haunting photographs make palpable sense of powerlessness in Erdogan’s Turkey.
A Climate ConstitutionalismRoger Berkowitz
Esmeralda Colombo turns to Hannah Arendt’s work on law, constitutionalism, and participatory democracy to argue for ways to limit state sovereignty and increase citizen participation in government through work on cli
Arendt Center members might recall Matthew Crawford, author of Shopclass as Soulcraft, from his talk at our 2013 Conference Failing Fast: The Educated Citizen in Crisis. Crawford is a philosopher and has also been a motorcycle repairman in addition to a bestselling author. N.S. Lyons recently interviewed Crawford and asked him about “self-governance,” the lost art of being able to lead our lives freely. Very much in the spirit of Max Horkeimer and Theodore Adorno, Crawford is concerned with the ways modern society promises us freedom and enlightenment but inserts us within social, economic, and political systems that make personal as well as political autonomy impossible.
Artificial Intelligence and The Human Condition
As we struggle to contemplate the impact of humanly developed but now inhumanly powerful artificially intelligent machines, we would do well to recall some of the lessons Arendt drew already from the victory of science and the modern age. Arendt wrote in the Human Condition that the “mathematization of physics, by which the absolute renunciation of the senses for the purpose of knowing was carried through, had in its last stages the unexpected and yet plausible consequences that every question man puts to nature is answered in terms of mathematical patterns to which no model can ever be adequate, since one would have to be shaped after our sense experience.” For Arendt, this separation between “thought and sense experience” means that man can create a man-made reality that defies the human capacity to understand or predict that world. In a similiar way, Slavoj Zizek approaches the present panic around the rise of artificial intelligence. He argues that what will come from artificial intelligence is not simply domination by those who control them, but surprise on the part of those who have created machines they cannot control.
The Imperative to ListenRoger Berkowitz
When the Federalist Society at Stanford Law School invited a Federal judge appointed by Donald Trump, some students protested and successfully shut down the talk by persistent heckling. Pamela Paul argues that the real value of invited speakers is not simply the freedom to speak but the imperative to listen.
Classical EducationAgainst those who see classical education as “white” or privileged, Angel Adams Parham and Anika Prather argue that classical studies in K-12 education should be embraced by activists on both the left and the right. Parham will speak at our Fall Conference “Friendship and Politics.”
Citizens' Assemblies are coming to PortugalMauricio Mejia writes about Lisbon joining other cities around the world to revitalize democracy through citizen assemblies. Tomorrow (Monday, April 3rd) we will host a webinar and Q&A about our Fellowship for High School teachers to bring deliberative democracy into the classroom.
Can We Have Race Without Racism?
Subrena Smith and David Livingstone Smith have argued that while DEI programs are important and necessary, they are undone by a fundamental contradiction, the demand to end racism while elevating and preserving the importance of race. The problem, they see, is that race falls apart once it is divorced from its essentialist and biological understanding. For them, “Race was fashioned for nothing that was good,” and the effort to celebrate race is a dangerous game that undermines the laudable goals of DEI programs to vanquish racism.
Walking and Thinking
I like to tell my students to read aloud. Whether it is poetry or philosophy, reading the words aloud gives them a physicality and sound that is part of their sense. Also, read in different places. And read walking. To read and talk and think while walking along a wooded path focuses the concentration and also ties the meaning of the word to the world. It seems there is some science behind this. Ferris Jabr argues that there are good reasons why walking encourages creativity of thought.
AI Devouring Human CultureRoger Berkowitz
Yuval Harari offers another, more dismal, take on the rise of AI. We need to learn to master AI before it masters us. Harari calls upon world leaders to rise to the challenge of AI: to master it and make it useful for us, while limiting its capabilities to destroy the humanity that gave it life. Harari sees the real danger from AI in its ability to consume our human culture.