Future Based’s ‘Sixty minutes back to the Future’ series is a new series in which we reflect on the bottlenecks and challenges of today’s society, and contemporary issues that have already been addressed by numerous philosophers and scientists: What can we learn about the future by looking at history?

The structure of the lectures is as follows: In sixty minutes, an artist, designer, researcher, or scientist talks about her/his field of work and what theories and thinkers have influenced their work. […] We will then reflect on how these theories, ways of thinking, and researches are relevant for understanding the state of today’s society, what we can learn from them about the ‘now,’ and why it is relevant to involve our past in our speculations about the future.

The purpose of these webinars:

To leave you with a head full of questions and the eagerness to go and conduct research yourselves. Luckily, you will receive access to a document with reading suggestions and relevant texts at the end of the lecture.

A note: In these times of challenges of all sorts, we need to lend each other a helping hand. That’s why Future Based organises these webinars on a non-profit basis. This means that ticket sales go directly to the artist, designer or scientist. (Future Based is not subsidized by any means.)

Sixty minutes into the Future with Aldo Houterman: Philosophy of the virus

In this webinar introduction of philosophy of the virus, philosopher of the body Aldo Houterman explains why he thinks viruses are philosophically important. In these 60 minutes, he will discuss four philosophers and their views on the concept of ‘virus,’ and how viruses have influenced the shaping of our society over the centuries. After the webinar we will share the texts that Aldo will discuss with you.

Philosophers that will be discussed:

1. Michel Foucault, about how modern medicine (the clinic) is created by epidemics and how this changes the body image from static to dynamic.

2. Hub Zwart, on the meaning of Dracula and the birth of the scientific concept ‘virus’ around 1897.

3. Peter Sloterdijk, about societies/associations/ideologies as immune systems; the modern house is a membrane, a cell wall that protects us against germs.

4. Michel Serres, The Parasite, about how we ourselves are parasites to the planet, flora and fauna, and how we ourselves have always been rats or hamsters that spread viruses.

Aldo Houterman studied Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. Aldo is a teacher and researcher on the subject of Philosophy of the Body and Brain. He has researched bodily experience within psychiatry and physiotherapy. He has published a book on the philosophy of sports and exercise (Wij zijn ons Lichaam), and is a doctoral candidate at the Erasmus University. He also teaches Ethics and Philosophy at the department of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Amsterdam, as well as in the Physiotherapy department at the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht.

Why are we organizing a lecture on the topic ‘the virus’ right now?

We believe in the power of questioning. We believe in the comfort of philosophy. 

Viruses have been a topic of philosophical investigation for many philosophers, among others Foucault and Sloterdijk.

Philosophers have until now investigated what it is exactly that we call ‘virus,’ whether it is an organism, whether viruses live, and how we should relate to them. Exactly now, in these times when the coronavirus is in the limelight of our daily lives, where we are flooded with forecasts, opinions and news, it might be a relief to reflect on how the phenomenon ‘virus’ has been approached throughout history to sort out our thoughts and uncertainties, understand the ‘now,’ and focus on the future.

Practical: When? The 7th of May 20:00 – 21:00 UTC Amsterdam. You will receive a ZOOM link after the purchase of your ticket.

Banner: Dana Dijkgraaf / Text editor: Kees Muller