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Famous philosophers: Hegel is very much alive: Just ask Slavoj Žižek, Judith Butler or Byung-Chul Han | Culture

German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.Diego QUijano con fotografía de Getty Images

They all go out of style, but some of them make comebacks. The philosopher who placed the notion of relation and contradiction at the center of reality, who reflected about human beings and gave them a prominent place in history, who spoke of blood and liberty – for a long time, this thinker was considered a “dead dog.” Yet if we read Slavoj Žižek, Judith Butler and Byung-Chul Han, some of the 21st century’s most widely followed thinkers, one thing seems certain: Hegel’s legacy is very much alive.

In popular culture, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel represents the dark thinker whom Monty Python proclaimed as the best defense in their old gag about the soccer game between German philosophers and Greek philosophers. Now, more than 250 years after his birth, Hegel has inspired new books based on his philosophy and fresh print runs of his work. Even Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach recently quoted him to illustrate the moral duty of getting vaccinated against coronavirus: “Freedom is the recognition of necessity.”

Two of the last books by Slavoj Žižek are Hegel in a Wired Brain and Less Than Nothing: Hegel And The Shadow Of Dialectical Materialism. In a telephone conversation, Žižek reflected on that Hegelian view of history as a path of heartbreak. “Hegel does not talk to us about the future – that would be Karl Marx – but instead wants us to notice the processes of history and the act of constantly rewriting it,” he warns. In that sense, Hegel’s lesson for today’s world would be not to trust our own vision of the future. “We need to be more skeptical, instead of considering ourselves great makers of history.”

With post-humanism on the horizon, Žižek warns that the real game changer of our time is not surveillance capitalism (which focuses on personal data as a commodity to be used for profit) but potential new forms of domination through the brain-machine interface, whose goal is to make our thinking processes transparent. This new technological ability, still incipient but very real, “is horrible because it poses a threat to metaphors, poetry and the very idea of language. What’s at stake is our basic form of freedom which is human thought.”

Desire and power

In every one of her books, from the latest The Force of Nonviolence: An Ethico-Political Bind to her first, Gender Trouble, thinker Judith Butler uses Hegelian concepts such as the need for recognition, mediation or the right to citizenship. Butler, who earned a PhD with a thesis on Hegel and the concept of desire, published an article in The Institute of Art and Ideas in 2019 titled “Hegel for our times,” underscoring the current relevance of the notion of interdependence, a very Hegelian concept. “It is in the course of encountering another that I stand a chance to become self-conscious,” reads the article.

Meanwhile the thinker Byung-Chul Han, who studied philosophy at Freiburg University, seems to take a less transformative view of Hegel. In his book The Agony of Eros, he equated Hegel’s notion of absolute with love, and warned that in a narcissistic world where all social interaction is mediated by technology, we run the risk of entirely eradicating the notion of the Other. And one of his latest books is What is Power?, whose main thesis is that certain forms of power dialectics can take place from a place of concord, as is the case with surveillance capitalism.

Populism and conspiracy theories

Germán Cano, who teaches philosophy at Madrid’s Complutense University, believes there has been a return to Hegel’s work because of the need to think about the whole, to think about the structure of what’s real, to get some relevant perspective in these times of populism and conspiracy theories based on the logic of finding a scapegoat. To Cano, the problem is that we live in increasingly atomized societies without a robust public sphere, which makes it difficult for us to understand one another as a society.

Hegel was the first to uncover the workings of ideas posing as natural facts of life, notes Ricardo Espinoza Lolas, a professor of history of philosophy at the Catholic University of Valparaíso, in Chile. Hegel offers us tools to “perforate the given, mediate the immediate and build a new sociohistorical fabric” made of the feminist, anti-racist and anti-colonialist movements, among others.

Wearing Hegel glasses can help us see further, but they don’t work for everyone. In her work Let’s spit on Hegel, the Italian activist Carla Lonzi underscored that feminism was the first social movement to interrupt the masculine monologue that had been so carefully cultivated in Western philosophy. Yet the very Hegelian concept of transformation lies at the heart of feminism. “Through thinkers who are indebted to Hegel, such as Butler, we are introduced to the idea that each person is simultaneously singular and plural,” notes Francesca Recchia Luciani, who teaches history of philosophy at Bari University. Recchia says we are undergoing a profound change, a conflict between an old world and a new world, a dialectical duel that seeks to overcome the patriarchal paradigm that refuses to give space or a voice to a majority of people.

A revolutionary beer drinker

Hegel lived through the French Revolution and he grasped that the idea of conflict in history is painfully real. Up until 1800 Hegel did not want to be a philosopher but a revolutionary, and this crossroads represents a critical moment in his work, explains José María Ripalda, a professor of history of modern philosophy at Spain’s distance university UNED, in his work El joven Hegel. Ensayos y esbozos (or, Young Hegel. Essays and sketches).

Hegel was something of a poet, and he also liked beer and women. He had a child and paid for the latter’s upkeep throughout his life as a good scholar of ethics. Besides an icon of philosophy, Hegel was also a man, just like Beethoven exclaimed about Napoleon: “So he is no more than a common mortal!” His wife Marie von Tucher described him as one of those people who expect nothing and hope for nothing. But not everyone loved him: Schopenhauer said that Hegel’s work would remain as “a monument to German stupidity.”

In any event, Hegel is a light that refuses to go out. The historian Wilhelm Dilthey said Hegel was one of those men who have never been young and who still have a hidden fire in old age.

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How Emergence of AI-Generated Virtual Twins Is Revolutionizing The Fashion Modeling

Emergence of AI-Generated Virtual Twins

The Voice Of EU | In the ever-evolving landscape of fashion modeling, a groundbreaking innovation has emerged: the creation of virtual twins through the power of artificial intelligence (AI). This technological advancement has already made waves in the industry, exemplified by the case of Alexsandrah, a renowned model who has seamlessly integrated her AI counterpart into her professional endeavors. The implications of this development are far-reaching, reshaping not only the creative landscape but also the economic and ethical dimensions of the fashion world.

Alexsandrah, known professionally by her first name, stands as a pioneer in this new era of modeling. She proudly shares that her digital twin mirrors her appearance “even down to the baby hairs,” blurring the lines between reality and simulation. This symbiotic relationship between the human model and her AI counterpart signifies a transformative shift propelled by AI technology.

Advocates of AI-generated modeling argue that its increasing prevalence promotes diversity and inclusivity within the fashion industry. By showcasing a wider range of body types and underrepresented demographics, AI models empower consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions, ultimately reducing fashion waste stemming from product returns. Moreover, the cost-effectiveness of digital modeling presents economic opportunities for both companies and individuals seeking to leverage this innovative technology.

However, amidst the promise of progress, critics voice concerns regarding the potential ramifications of AI modeling. The displacement of human models, makeup artists, and photographers looms large, raising questions about job security and ethical implications. Furthermore, there is apprehension that unsuspecting consumers may be deceived into mistaking AI models for real individuals, undermining transparency and authenticity in the industry.

London-based model Alexsandrah has a twin, but not in the way you’d expect

London-based model Alexsandrah has a twin, but not in the way you’d expect

Sara Ziff, a former fashion model and founder of the Model Alliance, underscores the pressing need to address these concerns. She highlights the risk of distorting racial representation and marginalizing models of color through the uncritical adoption of AI technology. Indeed, data indicates that women, especially those from underrepresented groups, are disproportionately affected by the advent of AI in modeling, further exacerbating existing disparities in the industry.

The case of iconic denim brand Levi Strauss & Co. illustrates the nuanced stance that companies are taking towards AI-generated models. While initial experiments with AI models aimed to diversify representation, backlash prompted a reevaluation of their approach. Levi reaffirmed its commitment to live photo shoots and human models, signaling a cautious approach to AI integration in its operations.

Despite varying responses from industry players, the demand for AI-generated models continues to grow. Companies like, founded by Michael Musandu, are at the forefront of this technological revolution. Musandu emphasizes the complementary nature of AI models, envisioning them as supplements rather than replacements for traditional photo shoots. He underscores the potential of AI to enhance the shopping experience, reduce product returns, and create new job opportunities within the industry.

The journey towards ethical AI implementation in fashion modeling is fraught with challenges, as highlighted by the experiences of models like Yve Edmond. Concerns regarding consent, compensation, and labor rights underscore the need for robust regulatory frameworks. The Model Alliance advocates for legislative measures to safeguard the rights of fashion workers, including provisions for informed consent and fair compensation in the realm of AI modeling.

Amidst the complexities and controversies surrounding AI-generated modeling, individuals like Alexsandrah navigate this new frontier with a sense of optimism tempered by vigilance. By fostering transparency, ethical use, and equitable compensation, AI has the potential to expand opportunities for models of color and revolutionize the fashion industry. As stakeholders grapple with the ethical and economic implications of this technology, the journey towards a more inclusive and sustainable future for fashion modeling continues.

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Top 10 most profitable places in Britain for holiday rentals

The most profitable locations in Britain for holiday rentals has been revealed – and the majority are not located anywhere near a beach.

Staycation favourite Cornwall is top of the rankings, with an average price per night of £84 for a room and £117 for a whole house.

A total of 476,910 bookings were made via popular holiday rental companies in the area last summer, according to analysis of Office for National Statistics data by the money website Wealth of Geeks.

The figures suggest that holiday lets in Cornwall took bookings worth £40million between the beginning of July and the end of September last year.

However, most of the top 10 are located in inner London, the research showed.

The most profitable locations for buy-to-let have been revealed, with staycation favourite Cornwall at the top of the rankings

The list of top ten places also includes several areas in London, including Westminster in second place.

The average price of renting a holiday let in Westminster is £133 a night for a room and £435 for a house.

With 304,790 holiday let bookings, it produces a revenue for the area in the heart of London’s west end of £34,441,270 for the summer period last year.

The calculations were based on bookings on Airbnb, and the Expedia Group, with data taken from the Office for National Statistics.

The rental prices, meanwhile, were taken from Airbnb across 388 British towns, and the total revenue was calculated by multiplying the number of nights with the nightly cost of a room on Airbnb.

The revenue did not take into account any costs of running a holiday let, such as repairs and maintenance, nor did it factor in property prices.

All of the remaining locations in the top ten were in London except for one on the south coast.

This was Brighton and Hove, where average rental prices per night were £100 for a room.

In total, the data suggested that the British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023.

Michael Dinich, of Wealth of Geeks, said: ‘Holiday rentals play a vital role in the UK’s tourism industry by supporting local economies, providing accommodation to enhance visitor experience, and promoting tourism in diverse regions across the country.

‘Tourism also helps to promote awareness of lesser-known areas, helping to distribute tourist spending more evenly across the country.

‘While some destinations may experience seasonal fluctuations in tourism often in the summer months, holiday rentals attract visit year-round, helping to sustain economies and businesses during off-peak seasons.’

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in this year's Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in this year’s Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped

The findings show that those looking to invest in the holiday lets market need to do their sums carefully before taking the plunge and committing to a particular area.

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf, explained: ‘This data shows that it’s not just the prospect of beaches and more reliable weather which drives profitability.

‘It’s not just traditionally popular holiday destinations which produce the best returns so it’s vital that would-be landlords do their research carefully before investing.

‘The ability to make money depends on supply and demand, not just the attributes of an area.

‘At what level a landlord can rent their property for, after taking into account all expenses, is key and explains why areas such as Westminster and Camden are proving profitable, where they may lack the charm of a traditional UK holiday destination such as Cornwall.’

The British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023, according to the latest data

The British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023, according to the latest data

Tax crackdown

The data on the most profitable holiday lets follows a crackdown on the sector by the Chancellor.

Jeremy Hunt announced in this year’s Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped to help improve the availability of long-term rentals.

The move is due to come into force at the beginning of April next year and is widely seen as a way of bringing the tax regime of shorter-term lets more in line with longer term rentals.

Experts operating in the sector insisted that holiday rentals remained in demand ahead of the changes.

Graham Donoghue, of Sykes Holiday Cottages, said: ‘Staycations have been growing in popularity over the past decade and right now demand for our UK holiday cottages is higher than ever, with the average annual income of a holiday let owner up as a result.

‘Hotspot locations like Yorkshire, Cumbria, and Cornwall continue to see considerable demand and bookings across the UK for our holiday cottages have been up 11 per cent during the current Easter school holidays.

‘The demand we’re witnessing is particularly good news for our holiday let owners who have faced their own set of challenges recently. Despite changes, which we are carefully guiding our owners through, it’s clear that holiday letting remains a profitable and rewarding long-term business model.’

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‘Monkey Man’: Dev Patel makes directorial debut with a delicious stab at action cinema

Dev Patel makes directorial debut with a delicious stab at action cinema

Dev Patel has always had an intelligent glint in his eye. From his big screen debut in Slumdog Millionaire to his role as a journalist in Aaron Sorkin’s series The Newsroom, the British actor usually brings a sense of peace, calm and intelligence to his performances. Perhaps that is why it is no surprise that, at 32, he has made his directorial debut with a film in favor of social outcasts, which he also produces, co-writes and stars in. The surprise is its genre: Monkey Man is a fierce action and martial arts film, revolving around hand-to-hand combat, dismemberment and knife fights.

Patel returns to India, the land of his ancestors, for his story of revenge that is strengthened by the creative arsenal applied to its sequences — and not only those of combat. While there was a serious lack of design in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, one of the worst choices for Oscar for Best Film in Oscar history, Monkey Man has at its heart a physical and moral entanglement, involving a sadistic police chief, a luxury brothel that serves as home to both fornication and power, and a ragged young man who seeks to atone for the death of his mother through the most savage forms of violence.

Monkey Man is also set in a slum overrun by gambling and fights, with Patel earning a few rupees as an underground bare fist fighter wearing a crude monkey mask. With its colors and the camera’s handling of Bombay’s chaos, the movie has echoes of Brazil’s City of God.

Image from the movie 'Monkey Man.'
Image from the movie ‘Monkey Man.’Universal Pictures

A comparison can also easily be made with the John Wick saga, which has revolutionized commercial action and martial arts cinema in the past 10 years. Patel even mentions John Wick in one on-screen exchange. Yet, despite the similarities, the staging and editing of their spectacular fight sequences set them apart. In the four installments of the John Wick movies starring Keanu Reeves, the choreography regarding the confrontations is developed through a paradoxically harmonious staging of continuity, with general shots extended in time. The dynamics of their contenders and their movements are visualized with hardly any editing, almost like a classic fifties musical but instead of dances, there is physical destruction.

The action in Monkey Man, on the other hand, is not one of continuity, but of rupture. The cuts are incessant and move at an unrestrained pace; the shots come in quick succession, with barely a second or two between them. Patel’s handling of cinematic language is brutal. For a novice director, he displays a dazzling energy, cadence and expressiveness. This is demonstrated by three of the only four fights in the ring, each one based on a dynamic sense of space and narrative. The first is defined by the close-up shot, with the camera directed at the waist of the opponents or even lower — giving the viewers a sense of overwhelming closeness. The second offers a very different vision of the fight, which is both more poetic and exquisite. And the third uses surprise as the main exponent, and is raw and concise.

With rough textures, contrasting colors and ochre photography, reflecting the social mud in which most of the characters are stuck, Monkey Man only slips off kilter in the second half, when the Hindu demigod, Hanuman, assumes the tragic halo that envelops the protagonist. Although it gives him authenticity with respect to his lineage, the visualization is tinged with a somewhat tiresome messianic muddle of lyrical ambition.

Monkey Man

Director: Dev Patel.

Cast: Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Sobhita Dhuliwala.

Genre: Action. United States, 2024.

Duration: 121 minutes

Release date: April 12.

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