News: February/March 2022 | Number 148

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Leading African philosopher dies aged 90 • Jazz opera Socrates opens on Broadway • Hegel Museum sets up escape room – Reports by Anja Steinbauer

Kwasi Wiredu passed away

Philosopher Kwasi Wiredu died on January 6, 2022, at the age of 90. Born in Kumasi in what is now Ghana, Wiredu studied philosophy at the University of Ghana and then at Oxford, where he was taught by Gilbert Ryle, Peter Strawson and Stuart Hampshire. He became a professor of philosophy at the University of Ghana and later at the University of South Florida. Wiredu has also held several visiting professorships in the United States and Nigeria.

Often referred to as the greatest African philosopher of his time, Wiredu analyzed the concepts of truth and spirit within the traditional Akan culture of West Africa, and authored books including African philosophy and culture and Cultural universals and particulars. He also edited the Blackwell Fellow of African Philosophy. Influenced by David Hume, Immanuel Kant and John Dewey, Wiredu’s work is unique in its references to African thought. Wiredu’s particular approach to African philosophy, “conceptual decolonization, was intended as a tool to rethink the crises of modernity as well as African consciousness.

With Paulin J. Hountondji in Benin, Henry Oruka Odera in Kenya and Peter O. Bodunrin in Nigeria, he co-founded the Universalist School of African Philosophy. Rigorous in their philosophical approach, the Universalists set the standard for philosophy in Africa and became influential worldwide.

Emmanuel Levinas Center

Emmanuel Levinas
Bracha L. Ettinger, license CC-BY-SA 2.5

During the Holocaust, 95% of Lithuania’s 250,000 Jews were killed, and the city of Kaunas was the scene of many gruesome murders. To this day, there are ongoing disputes over the commemorations of people and events from this era, particularly the status of local collaborators. Many therefore welcome the decision of Kaunas city officials to name a new major cultural and scientific center in honor of Emmanuel Levinas, a famous Jewish philosopher who was born there in 1906. Levinas died in 1995 in Paris, after a long and illustrious philosophical career. in France. The Emmanuel Levinas Center is part of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences and will host scientific and cultural events, as well as exhibitions about Levinas. The opening ceremony took place in the presence of David Hansel, a Franco-Jewish neuroscientist living in Paris and grandson of Lévinas: “A French Jew and litvak from Lithuania, [he] was proud of his origin. The Center embodies the whole life and work of Emmanuel Levinas and the Jewish community of Kaunas.

Agamben, Covid and Politics

As Italian politicians make a fresh appeal to citizens to get vaccinated, prominent Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben warns that vaccinations mean loss of freedom and will lead to dictatorship. Agamben is one of the best-known Italian philosophers, who throughout his long career made great contributions to political philosophy, critically examining concepts such as “the state of exception”, “the form of life” and ” homo sacer‘. However, more recently Agamben has been in the media for his views on the coronavirus crisis. In his blog’ A voice‘ he published a contribution in February 2020 entitled ‘The invention of a pandemic’. Far from reversing his position, he has since reaffirmed it, drawing analogies between government efforts to control the pandemic and repressive measures against Jews in Nazi Germany. Agamben wrote newspaper articles to this effect and even had the opportunity to address parliament in October. Many of his fellow Italian philosophers made a public statement against their famous colleague. In a statement “It’s not just Agamben”, signed by more than 100 Italian philosophers, they expressed their opposition to his views and their surprise that philosophy’s contribution to the crisis is confined “to thinkers like Agambo”, which “represent no one but themselves. The philosopher Donatella Di Cesare fears that soon “we will have to save Agamben from Agamben”. In collaboration with the philosopher and former mayor of Venice, Massimo Cacciari, Agamben published an article on the website of the Italian Institute for Philosophical Studies which warns of the danger that the vaccine could turn into a politico-religious symbol Recently, they founded the “Doubt and Prevention Commission”, a think tank which seeks to cast doubt on the policies of Corona and Corona. It is not clear what is meant by prevention, although during the seminal event, which was broadcast on YouTube, Agamben spoke of more comparisons with the r resistance against Hitler. A few days later, it turned out that Cacciari had received the wake-up call, news that could cut the veils of the movement a bit.

Hegel Museum

Even experienced philosophers find Hegel’s ideas a challenge. From now on opens a new and accessible manner of apprehending the philosopher, who has the reputation of being a notoriously forbidding thinker. A year ago, the house in Stuttgart where the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born in 1770 was restored and reopened as an original and exciting museum. No, not a place full of dusty storefronts that freeze your eyes in minutes. The Hegel House combines some traditional exhibits such as Hegel’s cap, notebooks and letters, as well as elements of the original house decoration with many interactive elements. On the walls of the ground floor, all around the visitors, an interactive film passes, explaining and showing the life and times of Hegel. Upstairs, you can pick up books from the shelves of Hegel’s private library; a media station lets you learn more about the book in your hands: what it is and why Hegel owned it. Finally, on the second floor, there is an escape room, where, by the light of the flickering lamps that visitors carry, they must steal a manuscript for Goethe from Hegel’s office while the philosopher snores next to it. The Hegel House received the Lotto-Museum Prize Baden-Württemberg.

Opera Socrates in New York

The shot
Is it you, Socrates?
The shot, HERE Arts Center

A new jazz opera based on the performance of Socrates has just opened in Manhattan. Called The shot, it will play at the HERE Arts Center on 6th Avenue until February 20. In it, Socrates awaits hemlock and certain death with a small group of friends, passing the hours, quarreling over the nature of virtue and bidding farewell. The music was written by Matt Ray and the lyrics are by Taylor Mac, who also plays Socrates. You already know the ending, but by all accounts, the story is animated. New York the magazine calls it “incomprehensible in the best way” and “a house party crossed with a New Orleans funeral procession married to a Radical Faerie bacchanalia”. The envelope calls it “blissfully weird” and comments that “Criticizing Mac for being lenient is a bit like bitching that the Empire State Building is tall.”

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