Josef Früchtl

Senior Fellow from April 2008 - September 2009
Josef Früchtl wrote his dissertation on the concept of mimesis in the philosophy of Theodor W. Adorno at the University of Frankfurt in 1986. He held a research-scholarship of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foun­dation and collaborated with Prof. Remo Bodei at the University of Pisa in Italy from 1987 to 1989. From 1989-1995, he was assistant to professor Scheer at the De­partment of Philosophy, University of Frankfurt/M., his post being financed by the Deutsche Forschungsgemein­schaft [German Research Foundation]. Habilitation in February 1995. Since 1996, he was Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Münster. From July 2002 to September 2005, he was president of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ästhetik (German Society of Aesthetics). Since 2004, he is co-editor of the „Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und All­gemeine Kunstwissenschaft“ [Journal of Aesthetics and General Art Theory] (Meiner Verlag, Hamburg). In February 2005, he was appointed Professor of Filosofie van kunst en cultuurvoorzitter van de afdeling wijsbegeerte) at the University of Amsterdam. [Philosophy of Art and Culture] at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam. Since September 2007, he is Chair of the Department of Philosophy (voorzitter van de afdeling wijsbegeerte) at the University of Amsterdam.

Fields of research

Philosophy as cultural science; philosophy of aesthetics and theory of culture; relation between aesthetics and ethics; focus on literary, film and media studies; special focus on the philosophy of film.

Research project at IKKM

Within the pragmatist tradition the old epistemological question: ‘What can we know? What is certain at all?’ is answered by the statement: ‘We have to rely on something’ (Wittgenstein, On Certainty). Looking back to a certain tradition of scepticism (Hume), existentialism (Kierkegaard, Sartre) and ontology (Heidegger), this statement is made concrete by saying: ‘We have to trust in our practices, moral ideas, the presence or ‘naked that’ of things, the hidden God.’ During the last thirty years philosophy, somewhat surprisingly, has made acquaintance with a new ally in answering her old question. It is film, one of the most popular media and art forms of the 20th century, that seems to deal in its form and content with comparable problems. For Cavell the link between philosophy and cinema has to be seen in the ‘ordinary’, for Deleuze in (a Bergsonian concept of) time and movement. But such a link is discussed in different ways within the analytic tradition as well. The general questions of the proposed research then are: How does it make sense to say that cinema, and above all modern, non-narrative cinema, restores our trust or belief in the world? What does it mean to say that film is (a kind of) philosophy?

Whereas a great part of the discussions of the past thirty years within the humanities and social sciences dealt under the label of post-modernity with concepts of radical doubt about reality, knowledge, moral universalist claims, subjective and political agency, my research project suggests a new introduction of the concept of trust or belief. And it does so from the background of cinema as one of the most significant cultural media of our times. The concept of trust at present re-enters our discussions above all in a social, political, and currently economical context. But the significance of that concept is much bigger. Trust and belief are indispensable in the epistemological and meta-physical (ontological) realm. They form a conditio sine qua non: no one can live without it, and there is no culture, no form of life that works without it, particularly under modern conditions. More specifically, trust and belief are a compensation for missing information, not (so much) for missing power. Underlining the expression ‘particularly under modern conditions’ requires that one has to refer not only to actual sociology (A. Giddens, N. Luhmann, J. Habermas) but also to modern cinema, a cinema that begins with Italian neo-realism, is continued by the Nouvelle Vague and nowadays by non-narrative Hollywood movies. Arguing for that thesis, then, can rely philosophically on pragmatist and phenomenological-ontological sources at first instance but it gets a real inno-vative turn by contrasting and enriching these sources with and through the analysis of films that are playing with our modern lack of information.