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The participants of the 2nd LESC in Freiburg (Credits: Alexandra Sachariew, University College Freiburg)

Hello all you BCBers,

In case someone has been wondering about my absence from BCB in the past semester, let me reassure you of my return in Fall 2017: I am currently not in Berlin but studying abroad at AUC in Amsterdam. The first question one might ask is probably: Why would I study abroad in Amsterdam? Isn’t it just like Berlin, only smaller and with canals and actual bike lanes? I asked myself the same things. But if that’s all you know about Amsterdam, you should just come here and fall in love with this beautiful city yourself. Very few people are able to escape its magic spell.

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This article originally appeared on Public Seminar and has been republished here with their kind permission.

deste gosto (Credit: Ponto e virgula | Flickr)

deste gosto (Credit: Ponto e virgula | Flickr)

Earlier this week, and in advance of the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, Andrew Sullivan produced a video for BBC Newsnight, detailing how the election campaign and Trump’s success reminded him of Socrates’ account of the rise of a tyrannical regime in the eighth book of Plato’s Republic. The video has made it into pretty heavy circulation, and as someone who has taught this particular text in part or whole just about every year since the inauguration of President Bush (43, not 41 — I’m not that old yet) I’ve been asked by a more than a few people “How accurate is Sullivan’s presentation?” and “Can we or ought we derive a different lesson from Socrates’s analysis?” This post is my reply to those questions.

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► Monday: Transit Havanna – New Heroes of the Cuban Revolution

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This documentary depicts Mariela Castro’s, the Cuban president’s daughter, view on the completion of the 1959 revolution. The documentary focuses on Cuba’s assistance of  the medical process transgender people undergo and explores such themes as emancipation and self-realization. The filmmakers document the lives of 3 transgender figures to better understand and convey the reality of being transgender in Cuba, a country with many paradoxes from seeming open-mindedness to religious repression and sexism.

  • When: 20:00
  • Where:  Babylon Cinema – Rosa Luxemburg str. 30, 10178
  • Admission: 9€ for 2 tickets
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► Monday: Illustration & Graphic Art Festival!

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Start your Fall Break by enjoying what the international festival of contemporary illustration and graphic art has to offer! Illustrative annual exhibition offers a platform for local and international artists to present their “craft”. What you will see is a great selection of today’s illustrations and graphics. This year’s festival will be featuring 32 international artists with diverse artistic positions and unique works in this genre.

  • When: 10:00-17:00
  • Where: Direktorenhaus – Am Krögel 2, 10179 Berlin
  • Admission: 4€
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From left to right: Michael Weinman, David Hayes, Andy German, Stuart Patterson. Credit: Gaia Bethel-Birch (AY 2016)

I am surprised that it took me this long to figure out just who exactly this “Plato” guy was. Growing up, I heard the names “Plato”, “Socrates”, and “Aristotle” often, usually in relation to one another, but did not understand what these names contributed to Western philosophy and science. Until recently, the mention of one of these three conjured up only imaginings of bearded faces and wise, earnest discourse in my mind. My knowledge went so far as to connect the names to Greek philosophy. Happily, my first semester of a liberal arts education has brought me further in my understanding.

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Dance workshop with Eva Burghardt. Photo: Inasa Bibic

Dance workshop with Eva Burghardt. Photo: Inasa Bibic

Dancer and choreographer Eva Burghardt gave an intensive dance workshop on campus the weekend of 25th-26th of April. Body Space Landscape was a «movement-based» workshop which mainly aimed at exploring all three categories through questioning the conservative understanding of dance as an artistic medium for certain types of corporeal expression. After two days of thinking bodies in movement, whether in the space of the studio or the architecture of a factory, or the topography of a park, I am still stupefied (almost ashamedly) by what I have considered to be a qualitatively different philosophical experience. Never before have I seen dance and philosophy — two distinct modalities of experiencing the world (as I previously thought) — converge in such a spontaneous and highly effective fashion. How does one think movement? I am convinced that both dance and philosophy (and here, dance will be privileged) are helpful in (beginning to) answering this question.

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Colloque Heidegger. © Yann Revol

Colloque Heidegger. © Yann Revol

 

The importance of Martin Heidegger’s work for 20th century philosophy can hardly be overstated. Sartre’s existentialism, Derrida’s deconstruction, Levinas’ ethics, and the political thought of Hannah Arendt, Leo Strauss, and Herbert Marcuse – Heidegger exercised a formative influence on all of them. All the same, Heidegger’s engagement with Nazism in the early 1930s casts a shadow on his reputation to this day. How far this political affiliation reached and what it implies for his standing as a philosopher has been subject to fierce debate for many decades now.

From February 1933 to April 1934, Heidegger was the Nazi-appointed rector of the University of Freiburg. He soon quit over disputes with the party, although he formally remained a party member until the end of the war. By some accounts he later called his political engagement the “greatest stupidity of his life”, but no written record exists of such confession, and after the war he never thought it necessary to issue a public mea culpa. Some say that he did protect Jewish friends and colleagues as rector, while some say that he denounced others. It is clear that in his writing he often condemned Nazism: sometimes subtly, between the lines, and sometimes explicitly alongside communism, capitalism, and science. However, some argue that certain strands of Nazi thought pervade even the deepest strata of his philosophy.

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Graffitti

My first semester at Bard College Berlin just ended and I would like to write about the past few months and draw on my first insight into a liberal arts education.

At first, many people advised me not to study at a liberal arts university. In Germany you usually choose a field of study that is already very fixed in its subjects and then you can specialize after a few years of studying that one thing. As a person who would like to know everything about (nearly) everything, I felt out of place in this system. I was not able to reduce my interests to simply one area. After I graduated from a German school, my only wish was to sit in a library, stay there for hours, and just read every single book that seemed interesting. But of course life happened and it took me one year to make this dream become partly true (in my imagination it was not as exhausting and frustrating to get some reading done as it is in reality sometimes).

A lot of people said: “What do you want to do with this education? We do not need more people who only talk and talk for hours and never act. The world is full of these. Why don’t you study something useful, something with which you can make money and not live in a trash can out of necessity?” What those people do not realize is that the philosopher Diogenes lived in a large ceramic “can” because he believed it was necessary to be independent from material needs and to think beyond social and bodily constraints. But his example was not the reason why I went to Bard College Berlin, despite all the warnings. I always wanted to make the world a better place, but I soon became aware of the fact that one first needs to know about the world, about human nature, and about society before one can claim: “I am going to change the world now!” (Even though I have no idea where to start.) So this is why I am here at Bard College Berlin. I want to know more about myself and the world I live in.

I can still remember my first phone call with my German friends after my first day at the college.

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