Many people think that philosophy wonders about questions like “who we (as human beings and as particular individuals) are?”, “where do we come from?”, “where do we go?”. The popular image of a philosopher is that of a man who, in the “tranquility of an ancient library” or “seated on a rock” does silently ponder the possible answers to those questions. A lonely an arduous task for people looking for the meaning of life, looking for a truth behind everyday living of each individual, looking for transcendental stuff.
If you are lucky, you may find somebody out there who retains in his or her memory some of what their teachers in high school said in their philosophy lessons (something that will happen more likely if their teacher was a funny weirdo than if he or she was the typically distant and boring erudite). And maybe they remember something about a way of making philosophy which has more to do with the public affairs, a kind of philosopher who meddles in political and ethical controversies: a gadfly like Socrates, who upholded ethical principles for individual and collective living in a time of corruption. Probably they will name his disciple Plato, obsessed with Ideas. They may remember other appealing odd guys like Nietzsche (with antichrist and stuff), or some famous and decontextualized statements like that from Descartes: “I think, therefore I am”.
Here we want to make philosophy with all of those “out there in the streets” who do not necessarily know nor remember something further than that about philosophy. We pretend to do it demolishing preconceived ideas of philosophy and philosophers: we are not going to enclose ourselves from the world and adopt a strict book-based intellectual diet; we won’t look for a lonely and quiet place (with a solid and immovable rock to sit on) and try to reach transcendental formulas. Philosophy isn’t that, really. Something that students learn at the Faculty of Philosophy is that, as every cultural construction, philosophy finds its definitions and its ways of existence into the complex realm of the culture it is inserted in: the historically marked society itself (and not only the academic world), with its economic system and its cultural life (which plays games, sometimes explicit, sometimes not, with tradition) configures the way its philosophy is at a time. And nowadays philosophy has not only a variety of “specialized branches” wider than ever; each of them has its different internal approaches to their subject. The common citizen isn’t familiar to this, despite philosophy itself has always held the pretention of being an essential tool for emancipation of individuals and communities (existentially talking + politically talking), and thus should theoretically be close to people, as people should theoretically be seeking for it. It isn’t that way.
The reasons why we have come to this situation (which has been noticed adopting the appearance of a crisis with different characteristics at multiple moments in history; and that in our present time has some relation with that thing some people name “postmodernity”) have been and are still being analyzed and discussed amongst philosophers. We are not going to dive into those waters. But we are going to say and (what is much more difficult) try to do something, since we think it shouldn’t be that way. That’s our slant, which isn’t an unjustified one: it shouldn’t be that way since it isn’t just detrimental for philosophy (and it is, greatly), but (and more important) for society.
We have chosen aesthetics as the mean to get into the arena of our globalized social reality, and try an encounter between philosophy and society. Aesthetics has since its beginnings been a great place for multidisciplinary knowledge (not only arts, but metaphysics, epistemology, politics, ethics, history, economy, and science may have their pertinent appearance), thus we will try to make an appealing proposal, widely open to everybody who wants to be part of it, from aesthetics: that may suppose the opportunity to build a manner of approaching to our common cultural life really philosophical, but not boring, not “academic” (not too much), not just theoretically: our life itself is what we are talking about.
SO NOW: we are going to think; but not just that, we will go to the indispensably previous stage of feelings and senses: we will watch, we will listen, we will take consciousness of our feelings. We are going to talk about concepts; but not just that, we will place ourselves in that possibly more complicated realm that is “reality”: our nowadays reality, XXI century. And we will see if philosophy can do something that interests people in their time, and if people can bring something to philosophy that just dead theory cannot.
HOW? Here we choose a limited field of work, which is the music video: its production and its consumption.
WHY? It is an up-to-date artistic expression, which is strongly linked to the industry of culture as it is configured by our economic system. Thus that, here we can find interesting elements coming from the aesthetical theory itself (aesthetical categories such as beauty, ugliness, or sublime) or history of arts (music, video art and cinema), and also from publicity, from politics, also from social forces and boundaries (such as prejudices, inherited genre/race/class roles, etc), or the omnipresent economy. But what is more important: music videos are appealing and accessible for everyone. They can be found not only in specialized tv channels: they are being reproduced at the gyms or hairdresser’s (what a motivation!), at waiting rooms of any kind, being continuously announced at youtube, and even at the news. They represent our culture’s values (as every form of art), support them and perpetuate them. Analyzing them and the role they play in our society is a way of knowing ourselves.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT? A way of making philosophy open to everyone “out there”, at the internet; not boring and obsolete, but up-to-date; which may lead to an actualization of the ancient oracular statement “know yourself”, and that pretends to do so till its last consequences: and maybe we won't like what we can find. A GOAL: To make of that cultural self-awareness the basics of a new citizenship, who recognizes itself as responsible of its cultural products, and that demands political, ethical and economic responsibility about it, to itself and to “the industry”.