Bert Olivier

Why we need a politics of ‘spirit’ not consumption

Most people reading this are probably wondering what a “politics of spirit” could possibly mean. After all, it seems like an oxymoron to juxtapose “politics” and “spirit”. I would agree with that, at first sight anyway. Until you read Bernard Stiegler’s transfixing book, The Re-Enchancement of the World, subtitled: The Value of Spirit against Industrial…

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Gelernter: A dissenting voice in the field of artificial intelligence

The relationship between the human mind and body is something that has occupied philosophers at least since the father of modern philosophy, René Descartes, bequeathed his notorious “dualism” to his successors. For Descartes the mind was a different “substance” compared to the body – the former was a “thinking substance” and the latter an “extended…

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The ‘perversion’ of Donald Trump’s popularity

A lot has been written speculatively about American presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s popularity, which has seemed surprising to many if his outrageous statements about women or about Mexicans are taken into account. Until recently when he did an egg-dance on the question of women and abortion, trying to correct what he had suddenly realised had…

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Islamic fundamentalism in the information age

In the second volume of his monumental three-volume study on the information age titled The Power of Identity (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), Manuel Castells addresses (as the book’s title indicates) the different ways in which a sense of collective identity is configured at a time when the so-called “network society” has emerged, concomitantly with the global communication-technological…

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‘Decolonisation’, the new ideology

Everywhere one looks today in South Africa you find a new imperative: “Decolonise!” In certain academic quarters it has evidently already attained the level of a new ideology, where academics are expected to “decolonise” the courses they teach (and presumably the articles they submit for publication as well). What astonishes me is that academics do…

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This is not all that Gyna sapiens (‘thinking woman’) is capable of

How the human species – Gyna and Homo sapiens (thinking woman and man), supposedly – have come down in the world. It does not take a genius to grasp this, although I daresay most geniuses would not waste their time with evidence supporting my statement, above; they probably have better things to do. What I’m…

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Foucault and the courage of truth

The last course that Michel Foucault presented at the Collége de France in 1984, when he was already quite weak (he died in June of that year, and taught until March), was on The Courage of Truth – later published with that title (Palgrave Macmillan 2011; Kindle edition). Although I cannot do justice to it…

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Protests herald the emergence of new democratic subjectivities

We are in Valletta, Malta, at a conference at present, and I have just done a presentation on the reasons for the widespread nihilism in the world today. What struck me was the fact that a number of the other delegates who came to me afterwards to talk to me about my presentation expressed their…

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Student protests as ‘acting out’

The recent, and still continuing university student protests across the country call for a more fundamental theoretical approach. Although one could always address them at the level of “common sense” or everyday discourse (which is what I have done here before), it is perhaps time to elaborate on the fruits yielded by a psychoanalytical perspective…

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Climate change activism DOES work, even against a colossus

Anyone who feels as strongly about some issues in the globalised world as I do, would feel buoyed by reading the article by Alex Altman, titled “The Thin Green Line”, in a recent edition of TIME magazine (February 15, 2016, p. 38-41). It is a tale of hard-won success on the part of tough environmental…

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