seminar / New Humanism

Liberating Thoughts for Reflexive Minds

The adagio that we cannot solve our societal problems with the same methods that (facilitate to) create them is well known. The vision that inspiration and motivation for ‘new methods’ need to come from deeper thinking about who we are as individuals and groups and about how to deliberate these problems with each other is less popular. This vision is the point of departure of my New Humanism project.

Built on a critical theory of modernity and illustrated with case studies, the lecture elaborates on what this new humanism is about and on why it is needed for our world of today and tomorrow. It presents proposals for ‘new methods’ to make sense of – and give meaning to – our social and political life and invites consideration of essential concepts such as reflexivity, holism, transdisciplinarity and cosmopolitanism, but also of the value of ambiguity and melancholy. The aim of the lecture is to invite dialogue and discussion, rather than to present a fixed view on a desired new reality.

Exemplary events where I contributed with this lecture include, among many other international and local gatherings, an Earth Systems Governance conference in Tokyo, the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio De Janeiro in 2012, the World Social Forum in Tunis in 2013, a conference on Altruism at the New York Society for Ethical Culture in 2016, a conference of the Global Development Network in Delhi in 2018, but also master classes for art students at the Rijksakademie Amsterdam and the University of Antwerp and a gathering of local citizens in the village where I grew up as a child.