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Bert Olivier

Posts published by “Bert Olivier”

As an undergraduate student, Bert Olivier discovered Philosophy more or less by accident, but has never regretted it. Because Bert knew very little, Philosophy turned out to be right up his alley, as it were, because of Socrates's teaching, that the only thing we know with certainty, is how little we know. Armed with this 'docta ignorantia', Bert set out to teach students the value of questioning, and even found out that one could write cogently about it, which he did during the 1980s and '90s on a variety of subjects, including an opposition to apartheid. In addition to Philosophy, he has been teaching and writing on his other great loves, namely, nature, culture, the arts, architecture and literature. In the face of the many irrational actions on the part of people, and wanting to understand these, later on he branched out into Psychoanalysis and Social Theory as well, and because Philosophy cultivates in one a strong sense of justice, he has more recently been harnessing what little knowledge he has in intellectual opposition to the injustices brought about by the dominant economic system today, to wit, neoliberal capitalism. His motto is taken from Immanuel Kant's work: 'Sapere aude!' ('Dare to think for yourself!') In 2012 Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University conferred a Distinguished Professorship on him. Bert is attached to the University of the Free State as Honorary Professor of Philosophy.

When fact imitates fiction: The Snowden case

In the history of (especially moral) philosophy, a recurrent theme involves the tension between the affirmation of so-called “free will” on the part of humans,…

The cult of the toned female body

When Gilles Deleuze claimed that what Foucault had theorised as the panoptical, carceral society of disciplined, docile bodies — economically productive and politically impotent —…

The recurring historical struggle for freedom

Several things that I experienced recently contributed to a renewed reflection, on my part, on the meaning of freedom. Much has been written about it,…

Critical psychology in Santiago, Chile

When it is your first time in Santiago, Chile, you may be forgiven for being somewhat taken aback by the friendliness and warmth of the…