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Was können wir nicht alles vermittels ihrer multiplen Einsatzformen tun: Wir »erfassen«, »berühren« und »begreifen« mit den Händen, wir »geben«, »reichen« und »halten« einander die Hände, wir arbeiten und schreiben mit der Hand – und Hände können ebenso »zupacken« wie etwas kneten, zurechtzupfen, glattstreichen oder aber sich zu Zeichen formen. Wir »winken« zum Beispiel »ab«. Von der Handreichung über den Handapparat bis zum Handzettel ist nicht zuletzt die Wissenschaft voller Verweise auf den »händischen« Charakter dessen, was denkende Textarbeit mindestens begleitet, ihr vielleicht aber auch notwendig zugrunde liegt. So notwendig wie das »Handeln« (vulgo: die Praxis) der Theorie entspricht oder entsprechen sollte.
Dissolving the Boundaries of Embodied Knowledge
This volume deals with the dissolution of the concept of the ideal body as a repository of knowledge through instances of deformation or hybridization
The starting point comprises a series of case studies of less than perfect bodies: bodies that are misshapen, stigmatized, fragmented, as well as hybrid human/animal creatures, transgendered persons, and bodies on the cultural periphery of the classical world. These examples represent deviations from the »normal« order of things and evoke feelings of alienation. One strategy for dealing with this is to canonize transgression in visual form. Fluid bodies are captured in the image, creating a visual order in disorder. The body-as-ruin is a fixed figure of fluidity and thus receptive to attributions of meaning, which helps explain its persistence as a cultural trope. It allows for the observation of cultural change.
An Anthropological Outlook on Actor-Network Theory
In the past few years, the Actor-Network Theory of French philosopher and sociologist Bruno Latour has become a hotly debated topic in the humanities. From a philosophical perspective, his theory of things keeps being reevaluated: is it possible for »Human and Non-Human Actors« to be analyzed as equally important actors? Does Latour’s theory of a simultaneously »agency« of things and concepts indeed move beyond a subject-object relation, and if it does, how far does it in fact go?
Such questions, seemingly at odds with more common traditions of thought, are the centerpiece of research at the Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. Can these questions of intention and phenomenality be correlated with the resistance of things and their forms? The volume focuses on questions of symmetry or dissymmetry between the world of »things« and »human beings«, including contributions from the fields of social studies, literary studies, and philosophy.
In the history of Chinese and European philosophy, metaphysics has played an outstanding role: it is a theoretical framework which provides the basis for a philosophical understanding of the world and the self. A theory of the self is well integrated in a metaphysical understanding of the totality of nature as a dynamic process of continuous changes.
Metaphysics has, however, suffered a loss of importance in current debates, especially in ethics. As a result, we observe the emergence of such philosophical views as moral skepticism and even nihilism. The consequence of this tendency has been the renunciation of a claim to understanding and to providing a solid ground for ethics.
How does thought become manifest in works of art? How do literature and the arts influence and enrich our knowledge of death and creativity? This essay presents a new and fascinating method for cross-cultural and interdisciplinary studies in the humanities.
According to Kant’s Critique of Judgement, literature and art have worked, from the beginning, towards not only expanding but also transcending the realm of common experience. They strive to represent the unrepresentable, speak of the ineffabile and advance into areas beyond all rational analysis, beyond the limits at which all attempts at philosophical or scientific explanations fail.
Proceeding from the assumption that a history of cultural knowledge is not congruent with a history of abstract concepts or rational ideas, this essay presents a new and fascinating cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approach for analysing the powers of literature and art to form aesthetic ideas of lasting cultural impact, for analysing the interrelation between the formative forces of the imagination and the form-giving material or medium. Its focus is on Figurations of the Creative and Figurations of Death. Both of these topics raise questions relevant to all cultures: how does innovation enter the world; how does a society come to terms with the deepest and most basic uncertainty of human existence, the awareness of mortality? For on this depends any assignment of meaning to earthly existence, as does any notion of worldly or otherworldly salvation.
A Case Study
This publication examines how archaeological objects concretise notions of time, giving them tangible form. The focus is on a particular statue, depicting the »opportune moment« or Kairos, created by the Greek sculptor Lysippos and dating from the era of Alexander the Great. It will be shown how this statue absorbed earlier notions of the opportune moment, combined them into a new form, and thus imbued this form with lasting potency. The statue was interpreted and re-interpreted in art and literature since Classical times, and, in changing from one medium to another, emphasis was put on new aspects. Because of this, the long-lost statue has made a potent and lasting impact on people’s notions of time.