Program

MONDAY 7 OCTOBER (10 am – 6 pm)

Keynote dr. William Connolly (Johns Hopkins University, USA): On Pluralism and Entangled Humanism

Response dr. Henk Manschot (University of Humanistic Studies, the Netherlands): Entangled Humanism and an Ecological Art of Living

Manschot’s contribution to the discussion of Entangled Humanism will be guided by a Nietzschean inspired notion of Radical Humanism which is based on Nietzsche’s proposition to give back ‘meaning to the Earth and hope to Humanity’ (Genealogy of Morals). Departing from a critical and Earth-based philosophy, Manschot will respond to Connolly’s planetary vision. In his response, two issues will be highlighted. Firstly a future oriented ecological art of living with and amidst all living beings, and secondly, a new sense of place, accompanied by a new idea of locality and proximity as core elements of a radical pluralist planetary worldview.

Discussion

Response dr. Carolina Suransky (University of Humanistic Studies, the Netherlands): Promoting Pluralism

Suransky’s contribution focuses on Connolly’s proposal to intensify a three-way conversation between postcolonial ecology, eco-movements in old capitalist centers, and new practitioners of the earth sciences. Particularly inspired by Mignolo and Walsh’s notion of pluricultural decoloniality and their engagement with other ‘modes of being, thinking, knowing, sensing and living; that is, an otherwise in the plural’, Suransky will explore how decolonial pedagogies could strengthen absented voices to reclaim the right to self-narrate, to signify, and to render visible local histories, other subjectivities, cosmologies, and struggles silenced by Western and Westernized accounts of the world. She will illustrate her response with experiences within the international summer school on pluralism and social change for graduate students and social activists from South Africa, India, Indonesia, Uganda and the Netherlands.

Response dr. Yoni Van Den Eede (VUB – Free University Brussels, Belgium): Entangled Humanism and Technology in “Algorithmic Times”

Van Den Eede will focus on the role of technology in William Connolly’s vision of entangled humanism, from the perspective of his own approach in philosophy of technology that combines insights from systems thinking, object-oriented ontology, phenomenology and critical theory. Specifically today, the technologies that challenge us most are “algorithmic technologies” – think Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things etc. Those will soon envelop us in a web of code, data, information and so on, where it becomes harder and harder to distinguish “us” from “them,” but at the same time we still – if only for ethical-practical-existential reasons – need to negotiate that boundary in some way. How to go about that “impossible” task?

Discussion

Response dr. Marc Van den Bossche (VUB – Free University Brussels, Belgium): Pluralism and Pluriversalism

In his contribution, Van den Bossche will examine whether Connolly’s interpretation of pluralism and cosmopolitanism can provide an answer to criticisms by non-Western authors of the too unique eurocentric character of existing interpretations of these concepts. Van den Bossche starts from texts by Enrique Dussel and Walter Mignolo and from their concept of plurality as an alternative to existing ideas about universalism and pluralism.

Response dr. Femke Kaulingfreks (Inholland, the Netherlands): Pluralism and Unruly Politics

In her response Kaulingfreks will engage with the potential of an inclusive humanism, in which structural and historical power imbalances, and relations of exclusion and exploitation are addressed. How can ‘entangled humanism’ contribute to an agenda of empowerment and social justice, by addressing the interests of people who are dehumanized through processes of ‘othering’? She will discuss ways in which entangled humanism can relate to the everyday acts of resistance and unruly political agency of marginalized and stigmatized populations. Those who do not fit dominant standards of normal, rational or productive civic participation are threatened to be perceived as outsiders to the category of the ‘human’ and therefore run a higher risk of being exposed to precarious living conditions.

Discussion

Response dr. William Connolly

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TUESDAY 8 OCTOBER (10 am – 4 pm)

Workshop with dr. William Connolly: Entangled Humanism in Humanistic Practices (English)

Two rounds of workshops, to be chosen from the following

1)Carolina Suransky and Henk Manschot (UvH): Becoming Earthlings, is that even possible? (English)

In this workshop, we will explore the idea that the ecological crisis is, above all, a crisis of values. It therefore seems critically important to reflect upon the dominant values which have guided human behavior so far. The workshop starts from the premise that the Earth can no longer support (human) development as invented by modernity. We will have to adapt ourselves to needs, desires, dreams and imaginations that respect ‘planetary boundaries’. But what does it take to imagine and move towards a situation in which humans become ‘earthlings’ (Latour)? And is it even possible or desirable in a world of ‘deep pluralism’(Connolly) to become a member of one shared Earth Community? Using various exercises and video material, we will approach these questions from planetary, local and personal perspectives and invite participants to (re)consider their points of view.


2) Christa Anbeek (VUA) & Hans Alma (VUB): Dialogue and Imagination in Humanistic Practices (Dutch)

To develop an entangled humanism that contributes to humanity in an ecological sense, we have to recognize the vulnerability of human beings and their environment. The workshop explores how we can strengthen dialogical and imaginative qualities to enhance ecological resilience in the interdependency between humans and their natural surroundings. Using methods developed by Anbeek (philosophical dialogue) and Alma (cycle of imagination), the workshop provides humanist professionals with tools for strengthening (ecological) resilience in their own practices of counseling or community building.


3) Merel Visse (UvH): Feel like going on an Adventure? Practicing an Entangled Humanism by Artful Care (Dutch)

In Connolly’s work, experimentation is central to transform everyday lives. When we don’t have clear-cut solutions for complex societal or personal problems, experimentation can help us to gradually search for them. Experimentation is like going on an adventure, following a trial that we do not know beforehand. By accepting uncertainty and by a careful process of exploration, we search for answers to our questions and concerns, without jumping to solutions too quickly. Experiments provide us with a space to actually live our questions, real time.That can be daunting, but also rewarding. ​Experiments are an important vehicle to transform practices that have become fixated because of issues of power or false perceptions and judgements. Experiments support us to explore what it means to be human in a world of spaces and groups that are hard to grasp or name. This praxis of experimentation – in combination with doing theory – is important for a more caring society, because in a way, the adventure is like practicing ‘care’ in itself. Care for the questions, care for how we open ourselves to hearing answers and noticing the signposts. ​During this workshop we will experience and reflect on Connolly’s view of experimentation. This means that we will experiment with what it entails to an “entangled being”, as Connolly dubs it. We will practice how to become receptive to new modes of experience and attachment. By doing so – in other words, by recrafting our perception – we recraft our judgements and practice care for how we, as entangled beings, relate to the world around us.​During this workshop, we will experiment with an ethics of care and entanglement that fosters new modes of perceiving, reception and attachment. What, for example, does it feel like and mean to “to inhabit the edge of the life experiences”, as Connolly promotes. We will deepen our reflection by connecting Connolly’s work with my work on care and aesthetics.


4) Nidesh Lawtoo (KU Leuven): The Politics of Mimesis (English)

In this workshop, we will discuss William Connolly’s recent diagnostic of ‘mimetic’ forms of communication that are contagious and unconscious. They operate on the ‘visceral’ register of cultural life, being rather intuitive and non rational. Mimetic communication is not necessarily linguistic but relies on an embodied rhetoric that is attentive to the power of facial expressions, gestures, repetitions, tonality of voice.In this way they induce fluxes of affective contagion. In the political area, these can  be put to both fascist and democratic use. As citizens with specific competences, Connolly argues, it’s important to be aware of this mimetic/visceral power not only to counter it, but also to channel it in productive directions. Starting points for discussion include Connolly’ critique of “fascist contagion” in Aspirational Fascism and his affirmation of a “politics of swarming” central to Facing the Planetary and more recent work.


5) Bertine van Hoof & Ernst von Kimakowitz (Humanistic Management Network): Humanistic Management (English)

This interactive workshop will deliver a conceptual introduction to Humanistic Management while using concrete examples for what it means to us as individuals. Humanistic Management is defined on the basis of three pillars. Firstly, the unconditional respect for the dignity of life. Secondly, integrating ethical considerations into management decisions and, thirdly, the active and ongoing engagement with stakeholders. Through shared reflection and dialogue we will examine how personal values influence our perceptions and behaviors at the workplace and explore how they relate to business practices in general and to Humanistic Management specifically.

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