Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category


A New Boss, and a Jolt of Real-World Expertise

Written on January 21, 2010 by Felicia Appenteng in Arts & Cultures & Societies, Philosophy


As published in the New York Times


When the going gets desperate, the desperate get creative. On Monday the beleaguered Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles named as its new director Jeffrey Deitch, a prominent New York art dealer. This comes less than a week after Bill Moggridge, a prominent industrial designer and businessman, became the first design practitioner to head the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York — an institution thought by many to lack vision.

The Deitch news has of course overshadowed the Moggridge news in the art world, but the appointees are similar in many ways. Both lack experience in museum administration but have plenty of hands-on, real-world experience running businesses, collaborating with other practitioners and making creative things happen in the fields their museums focus on. Each appointment confirms that the other is not an anomaly, and together they represent a kind of wake-up call for museums in general. They point to a return to basics in American museum culture.

Still, it is the choice of Mr. Deitch in particular that has stunned the art world, and not just because art dealers aren't often named to head major museums.

For all the objections that will be raised, some legitimate, it is a brilliant stroke for the Museum of Contemporary Art and may be a harbinger of renewed institutional spirit and will. Less than two years ago, the museum, once the city's premier institution of the new, was in serious crisis. It suddenly found its lunch being eaten by two other local museums that have, within the last two years, been revived by dynamic new directors, Ann Philbin at the Hammer Museum of Art at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Michael Govan at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

These two had galvanized their institutions and their boards, siphoning attention, trustees, art and money away from their competitor. Meanwhile, the Museum of Contemporary Art was in debt and was just surviving by drawing down its endowment. In late 2008, to loud objections from the art-loving public, its board contemplated closing the museum and selling its collection or merging with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The temporary solution was only slightly more palatable: accepting $30 million from Eli Broad, the former chairman of the museum's board.

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As heard on

Alain de Botton is the author of The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work.

If a Martian came to Earth and tried to understand what human beings do just from reading most literature published today, he would come away with the extraordinary impression that we basically spend our time falling in love, squabbling with our families, and occasionally murdering one another. But of course, what we really do is go to work — and yet this "work" is unseen; it is literally invisible, and it is so in part because it is rarely represented in art. If it does appear in consciousness, it does so via the business pages of newspapers, it does so as an economic phenomenon, rather than as a broader human phenomenon.

Two centuries ago, our forebears would have known the precise history and source of almost every one of the limited number of things they ate and owned. They would have been familiar with the pig, the carpenter, the weaver, the loom and the dairymaid. The range of items available for purchase may have grown exponentially since then, but our understanding of their genesis has grown ever more obscure. We are now as imaginatively disconnected from the production and distribution of our goods as we are practically in reach of them, a process of alienation which has stripped us of opportunities for wonder, gratitude and guilt.

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Rafael Puyol

Tras constatar que es una demanda social, un elemento esencial para la salida de la crisis, y que entre los interlocutores básicos del Pacto (Comunidades, partidos políticos, Conferencias Educativas) existe "disponibilidad y voluntad" para llegar a acuerdos, el Ministro lo ha declarado "viable" el Pacto sobre la Educación. Y ha lanzado un documento de bases, abierto al diálogo que define 9 ámbitos para el Pacto, con énfasis en una financiación suficiente, imprescindible para favorecer el impulso de las becas, la lucha contra el fracaso y abandono escolar, la escolarización temprana, la mejora de la F.P., la modernización del sistema, la internacionalización de la Universidad o la dignificación del profesorado.

Probablemente, llegar a ese deseable acuerdo financiero es sólo uno de los ingredientes del Pacto. Ni siquiera encontrar consensos básicos en las áreas educativas mencionadas, a las que hay que añadir el fomento de la cultura del esfuerzo y la flexibilidad, resolvería todos los problemas (contenidos de ciertas materias, vertebración del sistema, lengua de enseñanza). Pero, no cabe duda que sería un buen paso, acostumbrados como estamos a que los grandes cambios educativos se ejecuten con presupuestos anoréxicos. En este país hacemos mejor la literatura (las leyes) que las matemáticas (los presupuestos para desarrollarlas). Una buena norma puede convertirse en mala por la vía de la insuficiencia financiera.

Llegados a este punto lo más sensato es sugerir, como algunos ya lo han hecho, un pacto en dos fases. La primera sería el acuerdo razonablemente rápido sobre financiación y la mejora del sistema en aquellos aspectos académicos o técnicos que no suscitan grandes controversias. La segunda que permitiría pasar del Acuerdo al Pacto, consistiría en la búsqueda de un consenso o al menos de un acercamiento en asuntos más ideológicos o políticos. Sin duda es mucho más difícil, pero si supeditamos lo demás al logro de este consenso, el sistema seguirá anquilosado e ineficiente como hasta ahora.


It is becoming clear that Obama’s honeymoon period is drawing to a close. From health care reform, to civil liberties, to racism, to the Wall Street bailout, some of the staunchest opposition to White House policies is coming from the very forces that swept Obama into the Presidency. Big Think asked several leading voices of the American left about their concerns that government isn’t living up to expectations. To most of them, no matter who is in the White House, some things in government never change.

Precarious Fate of Barack Obama”


Princeton Professor, Author of "Brother West"

The president faces a
choice, Cornell West says. He can be a masterful, Machiavellian politician like
Bill Clinton or a great transformative leader like Abraham Lincoln.

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