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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.

What is creativity?

How does it work? Is it mere imitation, or transformation, or could it be — under rare circumstances — “pure” creation, that is, out of…

We’ll need two planets by 2030

At the beginning of his latest book, Treading Softly: Paths to Ecological Order, American ecological scholar Thomas Princen quotes from the Living Planet Report of…

Douglas Kennedy — a novelist to read

Through my daughter, as much a bibliophile as her father, I recently discovered the novels of Douglas Kennedy. Her birthday gift to me was Leaving…

Rome, city of layered history

Walking through this city with its ancient, medieval, Renaissance, baroque and modern history all telescoped together, I reflected on Freud comparing it to the human…

Rome, Caravaggio, St Matthew and money

Today I saw one of the most beautiful and profound paintings I have ever had the privilege to behold. It is Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s…

Power, Malema and the ANC

Could Foucault’s notion of discourse give one a purchase on South African politics? Indeed, it can, specifically by clarifying the relationship between ANCYL leader Julius…