A widely known problem is that students today have – supposedly – problems to read: are unwilling, only printed on exams and subsequently the reeding they need for proceeding. My personal experience suggest something different: if students have space: literally by way of sufficient “quality location”, time and mental space, not being pestered by problem-solving urgency, allowed to foster critical thinking (as Robert Cox outlines it in the piece from 1981: Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory; in: Millennium – Journal of International Studies 1981; 10; 126-155 DOI: 10.1177/03058298810100020501) most of them would love reading more, more widely, critically working with texts.
A Year Ahead
Well, a bit strange year coming to an end, after commencing on September the 8th 2017: taking it as “year” extended by some days, shortened by some events standing in the way of “routine work” in the office at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in the Amalienstrasse 33 in Munich, standing in the way of life and living … – still several lucky events as concerts, visits of museums … or events in which I had been lucky enough to be able to do at least to some extent what I wanted to do — following the commitment of a dwarf
standing on the shoulders of giants, and even walking some distance with them, side by side.
It proved another time for me that the real – and really exciting – tension of working in academia is not so much about fundamental and applied research but between research and taking position in the biased debates of our times – the times of past, presence and future.
The list below provides gives a more or less small insight into what I could achieve, not mentioning the endless disputes with universities about references for former students, peer-reviewing (though being hesitant when it comes to accepting this task) and also not mentioning the frequent chats with colleagues becoming friends and …, well and friends becoming colleagues.
– The latter may deserve some explanation. While academic work seems to be in some way impersonal, strictly bound to rule and while this is to some extent actually true, it is important to acknowledge the most fundmental rule: any knowledge has to be aobut the acknowledgment of reality as ultimate point of reference. And reality is not primarily what we learn from textbooks, statistics, legal and administrative regulations – even economists, usually at least, do not look at figures for the sake of the figures. Instead, it is about how people act and interact …, and omit (inter)acting. Of course, it is about specific observations and observations of the specific. Nevertheless, it is also about gathering different perspectives, not those expressed in interviews but those expressed in life, or we may say in “open dialogue”. Of course, this is first and foremost a very vague approach. And as much as it may end in accidental contacts – easily ending in accidents of misjudgments due to not knowing background and context of the other – it is also something that emerges naturally when engaging with people around – and this is equally a source of possible accidents due to the limited outreach of contacts.
– Supposedly, the Brandhorsts, before buying paintings for their collection (which then became the Brandhorst museum in the Arts Areal in Munich), borrowed the pieces of art, kept them for a few weeks in their home where they received guests – the purpose was to gather loosely for some chitchat, together exploring the paintings and getting different perspectives. The end result: a new opinion, not algorithmitically defined, but by allowing something to emerge from the unexpected, also from the unknown. it is abitu to gather, merging to something, coming together.
Chats on the corridor of the institute, Wednesday’s for lunch in the Old Simpel or somewhere else: the Vietnamese restaurant next door, Limoni across the street, or the Bavarian around the corner, of course … – with so different people – I guess all this had been like I imagine those visits in the Brandhorst’s home, or like visits to the Arts Areal in Munich, on my own, with others … – always opening the mind …, and asking only to accept one condition: a mind that is sufficiently open to further unfold – the magnificent blood of the orchards needs at least those burgeons that are ready to unravel, the light, seen somewhere in the background …
The list of what had been done, though still not all being dusted
- The Comedy of Big Data or: Corporate Social Responsibility Today, while Corporations wither away?, in: Tjaša Štrukelj/Matjaž Mulej/Grażyna O’Sullivan (eds.): Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance: Volume 2, The Tools for Practice; Palgrave (in print)
- together with Grinin, Leonid E./Ilyin, Ilya V./Korotayev, Andrey V. (eds.), 2017: Global Evolution, Historical Globalistics and Globalization Studies; Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Global Studies/Russian Academy of Science, Institute of Oriental Studies/The Eurasian Center for Big History and System Forecasting International center for education and social humanity research; Volgograd: Uchitel
- together with Grinin, Leonid E./Ilyin, Ilya V./Korotayev, Andrey V., 2017: Introduction: From the First Galaxies to the 2040s; in: Grinin, Leonid E./Ilyin, Ilya V./Herrmann, Peter/Korotayev, Andrey V. (eds.), 2017: Global Evolution, Historical Globalistics and Globalization Studies; Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Global Studies/Russian Academy of Science, Institute of Oriental Studies/The Eurasian Center for Big History and System Forecasting International center for education and social humanity research; Volgograd: Uchitel: 5-8
- Potentials for Taking a Strategic Role for Sustainable Sociability; in: Grinin, Leonid E./Ilyin, Ilya V./Herrmann, Peter/Korotayev, Andrey V. (eds.), 2017: Global Evolution, Historical Globalistics and Globalization Studies; Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Global Studies/Russian Academy of Science, Institute of Oriental Studies/The Eurasian Center for Big History and System Forecasting International center for education and social humanity research; Volgograd: Uchitel: 349-364
- Csoba J., Herrmann P. “Losers, good guys, cool kids” the everyday lives of early school leavers. Monitoring of Public Opinion : Economic and Social Changes. 2017. No 6. P. 276—293. DOI: 10.14515/monitoring.2017.6.15
- Erinnerung an Paul Boccara; in: Sozialismus. Monatlich Hintergründe, Analysen und Kommentare; Heft Nr. 1 | Januar 2018 | 45. Jahrgang | Heft Nr. 425: 64
- Art, recherché, création et politique; À la mémoire de Paul Boccara; in : Economie & Politique ; Novembre/Décembre 2017 ; no 760/761: 30
- Nationale Entwicklungen im Bereich Sozialer Sicherheit und des Sozialschutzes in Irland. 2017-18 – Jahresbericht
- For Him Art, Research, Creation and Politics Were the Same Thing—In Memory of Paul Boccara; in: CASS: World Review of Political Economy (WRPE)
- Precarity – it isn’t employment, it is the economy, stupid; in: ”Living standards of the population in the regions of Russia”; Moscow, forthcoming
- Precarity – it isn’t employment, it is the economy, stupid – extended version of article mentioned before; forthcoming
- (together withN.Bobkov/I.B. Kolmakov/E.V. Odintsov): Двухкритериальная модель социальной структуры российского общества по доходам и жилищной обеспеченности/Two-Criterion Model of the Social Structure of Russian Society by Income and Housing Security; in: Экономика региона/”Economy of region” (http://www.uiec.ru/zhurnal_yekonomika_regiona/o_zhurnale/); in print
- About You – Bei Strafe des Frageverbots, ob man überhaupt ist; erscheint in Tarantel. Zeitschrift der Ökologische Plattform bei DER LINKEN
- Preparatory work for The Development of the Concept of Universal Human Rights: A Critical Perspective; In: International Human Rights, Social Policy and Global Welfare: Critical Perspectives; eds.: Féilim Ó hAdmaill/ Gerard McCann; Policy Press, forthcoming
- A foglalkoztatás precarity – A tőke felhalmozódásának előfeltétele – A társadalomtudomány szenvedélyessége; in: METSZETEK. Társadalomtudományi folyóirat; Debrecen: Debreceni Egyetem Politikatudományi és Szociológiai Intézet
- Changing the Socio-Economic Formation: New Labour Relations, New Forms of Accumulation, New understanding of Intelligence
- Changing the Socio-Economic Formation: New Labour Relations, New Forms of Accumulation, Artificial Intelligence and Sharing Economy
- Value Theory – is there still any value in it? – is it still worthwhile to talk about it?
- Migration between value and poverty chains
- with Vyacheslav Bobkov: Digitisation and Precarisation – Redefining Work and Redefining Society (with Contributions from Australia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Russia; Springer
- Own Contributions:
* together with Vyacheslav Bobkov: Foreword: Digitisation and Precarisation – Redefining Work and Redefining Society
- Economy of Difference and Social Differentiation. Precarity – searching for a new interpretative paradigm
- Own Contributions:
- Preparatory work, together with Laurinkari, Juhani/Unger, Felix: Documentation of the Symposium of the European Academy of Science and Arts and the Pellervo Society, Helsinki: Digitisation, Artificial Intelligence and Stultification of Society; also contribution: Digitisation – Employment – and What?
- Digitalization, immigration and the welfare state, by Mårten Blix, Cheltenham, UK & Northampton, MA, USA, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017, 186 pp., ISBN 978 1 78643 294 0 (hardback) – European Journal of Social Work; 2018; https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2018.1434267
- D’Aprile, Dorothee/Baur Barbara/Kadritzke, Niels (Red.): Chinas Aufstieg. Mit Kapital, Kontrolle und Konfuzius; Berlin: taz Verlags- und Vertriebsgenossenschaf; Edition Le Monde Diplomatique 23/2018; in: im Erscheinen in kritisch-lesen.de
- Greve, Bent: Technology and the Future of Work. The Impact on Labour Markets and Welfare States; Cheltenham/Northhampton: Edward Edgar, 2017; ISBN: 9781786434289
see for some:
- Euromemorandum workshop in Harokopio University, Athens (http://www.euromemo.eu/annual_workshops/2017_athens/index.html)
- Euromemo post conference reflections 2017 (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320215395_Reflections_on_the_occasion_of_the_Annual_EUROMEMO-Conference_in_Athens_end_of_September_2017)
- precarity and digitisation – it is not just about jobs. Moscow 10/2017 – presentation during the conference Instability of employment: Russian and International Contexts of Changing the Legislation on Labour and Employment; Plekanov university, Moscow, October 2017
- The Particular and the Universal – Indigenous Sports for the Integrity of the Global Village; presentation during the IJHS International Conference of Indigenous Sports Culture: Globalization and Nationalization: Inheritance and Development of Indigenous Sports Culture in Asia; Wuhu, China, October 2017
- RLS-workshop, Berlin: presentation on Political economy of ‘right wing populism’
- Journées de formation en économie politique marxiste, Paris, January 2018; Economie et Politique/PCF
- Wissenschaftliches Gespräch am MPI; WYSIWYG – Also for Big Data?, February 2018
- Digitisation – Challenges between Changing Social Securitisation and Changing the Vita Activa – Symposium of the European Academy of Social Science and Arts, Salzburg, March 2018 (https://www.euro-acad.eu/2018/03/05/festive-plenary-session-2018/)
- Panel Vienna: Presentation of the Euromemo: European Social Policy (http://www.beigewum.at/2018/03/can-the-eu-still-be-saved-the-implications-of-a-multi-speed-europe-presentation-of-the-euromemorandum-2018/ – https://www.oefse.at/en/events/veranstaltung/event/show/Event/can-the-eu-still-be-saved-the-implications-of-a-multi-speed-europe/)
- Big Data – Publicness versus Regulating Quasi-Monopolies – 10/04/2018
- Digitisation – Morals, Politics and Responsibility – 11/04/2018
- Digitisation – Meta-Methodological Reflections – 13/04/2018
- Maynooth (May 2018):
- One Belt – One Road – One World – Digitisation of Life as Chinese Lifestyle?
- One Belt – One Road [OBOR] – One World. From Economy of Comparative Advantage to Socio-Politics of Cooperative Progressing
- Value Theory – is there still any value in it? – is it still worthwhile to talk about it?, Presentation during the Conference The [Re]Birth of Marx[ism]
- Capitalism today – a bit of the socio-cultural dimension of the tragicomedy
- Actuelle Stunde am MPI: Capitalism today – a bit of the socio-cultural dimension of the tragicomedy
- Economic Forum Krynica, September 2018 (http://www.forum-ekonomiczne.pl/?lang=en): Precarity of Employment – Precarity of Capital Accumulation – Helplessness of Social Science
- Actuelle Stunde am MPI: Social Injustice and social (de)legalisation – A hegemony-theoretical perspective on Human Rights (September 2018)
- Symposium of the European Academy of Science and Arts and the Pellervo Society, Helsinki: Digitisation, Artificial Intelligence and Stultification of Society, 18/09/2018: Digitisation – Employment – and What? An attempt to socio-locate the challenges of today’s productivity puzzle
- Phanresia, volume IV, in progress
- Commencing Phanresia I-III audio-access, in progress
- Commedia Della Vita or Pánta Rêi’s Firm Ground – blog entries, trying to inspire thinking – ongoing, usually twice per week
Well, the suitcases are packed … – off tomorrow with some hand-luggage, collecting the large bags on Friday …
Now, time to say good-bye – as done so often before, and again and again
and even much later too.
There are two things to remember – and I am still grateful to the people teaching me: I will continue being scared; and I will continue even if, or probably better: because there is a light; and I am grateful for to the person that asked me many questions, allowing me to learn about the value of my freedom; and to those who stayed with me while disappearing
– Thank you – 고마워요! – 谢谢 – Köszönöm – Merci – Danke
trying to open the box
Looking at how academic institutions deal with applications by students – and with lecturers who support their endeavour – when it comes to applications there seems to be little hope: one meets ignorance, lack of respect and unqualified ways of handling procedures – I referred to this issue earlier.. I suppose part of the problem is also that we usually accept such misbehavior and move on, allowing ‘them’ to move on their way. Hopeless …
“HOPE is what makes us strong. It is why we are here. It is what we fight with when all else is lost.”
– Pandora’s last words
With this attitude I wrote the letter/mail to some completely ignorant universities: if asking for a reference that supports students to follow their path of curiosity, has any meaning, there are some institutions that themselves delve in complete lack of meaning.
Dear colleague, I am writing to you after overcoming some hesitation and also after reflecting if there is any point in it.
Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy/
Max-Planck-Institut für Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik
[section social law]
– Research Fellow –
Institute of World Economy
Faculty of Social Sciences and International Relations
Fővám tér 8
NEWS, THOUGHTS AND PROVOCATIONS
Academia Now and Then
I am wondering if and in which way we can and have to speak of changes in the academic world.
Putting it into a question one could ask:
Can living in the academic world be compatible with working academically?
It has something religious – similar to the questions, leading to and accompanying the Reformation, criticizing the institutionalised church in order to rescue faith.
It has something ancient philosophic-economical, where we find the contrast of Oikonomia, roughly use-value oriented and resource-respecting management of the household and Chrematistike, roughly the exchange-value oriented money-making, money becoming as fetish a use-value.
If we are generously accepting that different sides are justified, instead of insisting on a romanticised ideal, there still remains the
cui prodest, cui bono?
To be precise, it is not just the question who benefits. Centre-stage we have to ask
Where do we find systemically and what are the leading motives?
Looking at the distribution of income within the sector of Higher Education is revealing. And understanding that this is not the only sector where power is abused is frightening. And that power is often abused not just for private benefits, but where dependents are guided into wrong directions is a disgrace …
And there are still people speaking about freedom of thought and speech? Well, we see, it is not just a matter of a finger …, it can also be about having a different approach or uncovering injustice or speaking about it. And then people hear they should think outside of the box …?
Well, there is something biblical in all this as we know from Genesis 26 ff. – still encouraging some to ask Why can’t we do what we like to do?
The cat’s tale – the difficulty of academia then and now
It seems to be relatively easy to deal with Schroedinger’s cat – the question is well known:
Schrödinger wanted people to imagine that a cat, poison, a geiger counter, radioactive material, and a hammer were inside of a sealed container. The amount of radioactive material was minuscule enough that it only had a 50/50 shot of being detected over the course of an hour. If the geiger counter detected radiation, the hammer would smash the poison, killing the cat. Until someone opened the container and observed the system, it was impossible to predict if the cat’s outcome. Thus, until the system collapsed into one configuration, the cat would exist in some superposition zombie state of being both alive and dead.
The one way of dealing with it is to open the box in order to see if the cat is alive or not. However, it is a way of dealing with the problem by actually denying it as checking, giving ‘empirical evidence’ in actual fact changes the conditions to such an extent that, what had been the question at the outset is actually redefined: the conditions from which the question emerged are not anymore given.
The other way is to admit that there is no answer and that there cannot be any answer for ever. One could see this as a purely academic issue – though this is probably seen differently by the cat – being eternally in a situation of not knowing if her is dead or alive which must admittedly a hugely unpleasant state of existence. And both ‘easy answers’ prevail when we are looking at academia, in particular universities: researching, studying and teaching. One question may be asked though: what is if we simply look at the tale, not the entire cat but also not something that exists only as chimera?
Some reflections on the development of third level education today can be found here, impressions and reports, resulting from having worked in China for two years at a ‘joint venture’ between a EUropean and a Chinese university, and reflecting more general trends than really anything like ‘this is China’. And also reflecting on a general trend of supposed academic education where one learns not to agree with but to follow rules, where you have to like numbers but yu do nit have to like maths … – at the end where you should end with a major that makes sure that the cat is dead while the mice are dancing a bubble dance, appealingly majoring in accounting without understanding the economy of which it takes account.
 https://i.stack.imgur.com/Of40B.jpg; 27/07/17
 IFLScience – The lighter sight of science: Schrödinger’s Cat: Explained; http://www.iflscience.com/physics/schrödinger’s-cat-explained/; 27/07/17
‘BEING ECONOMIST’ – AN INTERVIEW
[see also here for some reflections on academic work]
2015年春季，俄罗斯普列汉诺夫经济大学(Plekhanov Rusian University of Economics)客座教授
2012年起 匈牙利布达佩斯考文纽斯大学（Corvinus Univesity经济学院访问学者
Living in and for academia – an international[ist] perspective
Published is a presentation given on the 4th of July in ChangSha, PRC, looking against the personal background from an academic perspective at the topic of international and global education. While sociology, economics, political science, law and arts are explicitly mentioned, philosophy remains as companion of all in the background. Highlighted is the need to regain and maintain academic integrity.
The video-recording, in some respect an extension to the interview published recently, can be found here.
Learned from the time I lived in Australia, and altered all this is not least about the statement that
I fully acknowledge the Right and Duty of the students to learn in a way that allows not only to administer their own life and land in a globally respectful way, to study the possibilities to work and connect with the world that is respectful against themselves, against their fellow beings past, present and emerging.
… to the point …
Well, you may say I am burning in the Heraclitean Fire, carried away and not doing what the academic world-order asks me to do – moving on with the metaphor, one may add: this little bit of disobedience is like playing with fire, a dangerous not to say: life threatening game.
So to the point, reading Erwin Chargaff’s
Heraclitean Fire: Sketches from a Life Before Nature.
He refers on page 171 to another work by himself**, which he wrote earlier and where he contended:
The fashion of our times favors dogmas. Since a dogma is something that everybody is expected to accept, this has led to the incredible monotony of our journals. Very often it is sufficient for me to read the title of a paper in order to reconstruct its summary and even some of the graphs. Most of these papers are very competent; they use the same techniques and arrive at the same results. This is then called the confirmation of a scientific fact. Every few years the techniques change; and then everybody will use the new techniques and confirm a new set of facts. This is called the progress of science. Whatever originality there may be must be hidden in the crevices of an all-embracing conventional makeshift: a huge kitchen midden in which the successive layers of scientific habitation will be dated easily through the various apparatuses and devices and tricks, and even more through the several concepts and terms and slogans, that were fashionable at a given moment.
Chargaff’s book had been published in 1978, he was, as widely known, professor in biochemistry, he emigrated from fascist Germany … – and one may ask if it is purely by accident that with this background already
[a]s early as 1949, this eminent scientist described certain irregularities in the composition of DNA and formulated the concept of ‘complementarity’ – later referred to as ‘Chrgaff’s rule’ and still later as ‘base pairing’ – which was the most important single piece of evidence for the double-helical structure of DNA’ [from the book-cover blurb].
‘Back to the fire’ – what he states, looking at methods, can cum grains salis also said for today and social science: where ‘methodology’ chapters in theses too often present methods, not showing any awareness of the difference between method and methodology, where publications and universities and people are ranked on the basis of algorithms and where entities are cut into pieces, making us forget the following:
The insufficiency of all biological experimentation, when confronted with the vastness of life, is often considered to be redeemed by recourse to a firm methodology. But definite procedures presuppose highly limited objects; and the supremacy of “method” has led to what could be called by an excellent neo-German term the Kleinkariertheit (piddling pedantry) of much present-day biological research. The availability of a large number of established methods serves, in fact, in modern science often as a surrogate of thought. Many researchers now apply methods whose rationale they do not understand. 
End of term, and of the academic year – students, sometimes inviting lecturers, celebrating; preparing for holidays, but also asking for references, preparing the next career moves.
I have to admit, I am am happy that some say they did not ‘invite me to their celebration’ but invited me ‘to celebrate with them’; and I also have to admit that it is an honour to be seen by some as 老师, as lǎoshī – a bit like the hojam as we use it at ODTU in Ankara.
An unwritten chapter for the
Diary from a Journey into another World: Diaries against nationalism, inspired by trying to overcome personal resentments
** Chargaff, E. 1965. On Some of the Biological Consequences of Base-pairing in the Nucleic Acids. In: M.D. Anderson (Ed.), Developmentn.l and Metabolic Control Mechanisms and Neoplasw. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, p. 19.
Looking back: 教授给学生开设Workshop
为了让学生学习更多的经济学知识及研究方法，提高学生自主学习能力，我院Peter Herrmann教授针对2014级金融学、会计学两个专业特别开设Workshop。经过面试并遴选40名学生后，Peter Herrmann教授围绕经济学开展一系列专题讨论，包括“大学与市场 (University and Markets)”，“金砖五国与薄荷四国 (From BRICS to MINT)”，“知识产权的维度 (Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights – Economics and Property)”等。在专题讨论中，Peter Herrmann教授引出话题，学生对各个话题进行深入讨论、发表见解，最后Peter Herrmann教授对主题进行总结，并提出一些问题留给学生课后思考。这种教学模式鼓励学生进行独立思考、自主研究。学生们纷纷表示受益匪浅。更令学生欣喜的是，Peter Herrmann教授给他们颁发了有他和学院教学副院长签名的结业证书。
What we – as teachers and students – have to acknowledge, always and in particular the days of exams, even if we are not any kind of genius.
I don’t know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then in finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.(Isaac Newton)