“I think it’s important that you, as an individual, make room for other voices”
She thinks it’s a bit of a pompous title, but – and Marjan Slob sincerely believes this – it also feels like recognition. Slob, an award-winning philosopher and essayist, has been the new Denker laureate since Friday. It is a title that she considers the crowning achievement of her work, but which at the same time causes a slight panic.
“It’s very honorable, I can’t say anything else,” Slob said. ‘Everyone wants to be seen. I like to philosophize, to spread the love of wisdom. At the same time, I sometimes think: oh, oh, how am I going to do this? But then I think back: Marjan, just try to wear it, adjust it to your will.
The Vaderlands Denker is an initiative of the Philosophy Month Foundation and has been awarded every two years since 2011 – in consultation with bookstores and discussion centers – to a public philosopher who can “situate the frenetic pace of news in a larger context”. . With their philosophical perspectives, they are welcome in newspapers and round tables, but also in meetings of public institutions.
Hassan Bahara served as Media and Culture Editor for by Volkskrant. Before that, he wrote about radicalization (online). One week a month, he is a television critic.
Slob, born in 1964 in the village of Giessenburg, South Holland, has worked as a freelance philosopher and essayist for over twenty years and lives in Utrecht. readers of by Volkskrant may know her from the column she wrote through 2020 and her reviews of philosophy books. Slob has written several best-selling public books, such as beast brain (on the human brain and mind) and The empty sky (on loneliness), for which she won the Socrates Cup and the J. Greshoff Prize respectively.
Over the next two years, as Thinker of the Fatherland, she wishes to give substance to the theme of “thinking broadly”, a plea to make room for values and experiences other than her own. Slob wants to explore the political, physical and spiritual dimensions of this theme.
“Thinker of the Fatherland is an honorary title, I have no boss and I can do what I want. I think it would be fun to visit lots of different places, to explore for or with groups of people in a philosophical way about them. I would like to show philosophy as a living practice.
What do you mean by “think broadly”?
“I think it’s important that you, as an individual, make room for other voices, that your thinking isn’t just about your own experience. A lot of people are apparently so tense that they honk their horns mainly. My question is, how can you listen to that hoot? What do we really mean here? I think it could give social relaxation if, without denying yourself, you expand the space within you for others. shouldn’t be a fuzzy affair at all, I don’t want to hide the differences. But there’s also always something we have in common as people. We can look for that too.
Making room for other perspectives, I am thinking in particular of those of (sexual) minorities.
“You are probably referring to the polarized debate around identity politics. I hear first and foremost a cry of recognition. Many people who come out of the mainstream have little space to share their experiences and impressions. Here too, I want to seek common ground. In doing so, I hope to contribute to a society in which people who know little social space and people who traditionally occupy a lot of space can understand each other.
What do you mean by the physical dimension of “broad thinking”?
“It’s about the scarcity of physical space in the Netherlands. Big pig farmers and nature lovers get in each other’s way. The return of the wolf, which is very good news from an ecological point of view, is bad news for our sheep. It’s like there’s literally no more room for anything we’d like to do. It also means that politicians will not be able to avoid making difficult choices about our land use. I find this interesting because the story you are going to tell is important: what space will be used for what purpose, why, and what values are at stake?’
How do you want to shape the debate on this? For example, will you talk to BoerBurgerBeweging?
“I definitely want to reach out to interesting parties in this discussion, and if BBB wants to have a philosophical conversation about values, I’m happy to brainstorm with them. But I think BBB has other things in mind right now. I am not a politician. I consider it my duty to point out opportunities to come together in discussion or bring to light unspoken differences of opinion. Philosophers are good at this kind of meta-discourse. Of course, as a citizen, I have my own political preferences, but as a thinker, it’s not about my preferences, but about my philosophical skills.
Previous homeland thinkers included Rene Gude, Marli Huijer and Daan Roovers. Marjan Slob will be inaugurated on April 7 during the Night of Philosophy. She then succeeds the current Thinker of the Fatherland, Paul van Tongeren.
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