Bert Olivier

The price men pay for their addiction to porn

The technological revolution that has given us television, the internet and almost inexhaustible sources of image consumption has also, concomitantly, given viewers and internet users access to pornography on a scale almost unimaginable. But, as one should know by now, technology is a pharmakon – poison AND cure – and therefore it should come as…

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Disposable objects: The roots of global nihilism today

I have written on nihilism here before, and am returning to it now in light of a striking analysis of its causes by Bernard Stiegler in What Makes Life Worth Living: On Pharmacology (Polity Press, 2013, Kindle edition). While not ignoring the diagnosis of nihilism in western culture by Nietzsche, Stiegler takes its roots back…

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Ecosocialism can rescue us from ecocatastrophe

In Ridley Scott’s recent film, The Martian, there is a scene near the end that sums up the often ignored value of the earth. Astronaut and botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is sitting on a bench in a park, shortly after having been rescued from a very lonely existence on the red planet, Mars. He…

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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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