Adventures in philosophical activism
I have always been sensitive to issues of ethics and justice related to power and vulnerability. Power over people and nature, either in social, political or economic form, is never morally justifiable. It is always exerted by individuals or groups driven by self-interest, either by directly enforcing it on the vulnerable (such as in dictatorship, sweatshops, problematic cultural traditions or the exploitation of nature), or by making use of social systems and tools vulnerable in themselves for misuse driven by self-interest (being our systems of democracy, research, education and the market and the various applications of science and technology). My philosophical work and activism starts from critical analysis but essentially looks at new methods and social forms of co-existence that cannot be hijacked by power-and-profit addicts and that, at the same time, can unlock, stimulate and use the social intelligence, ethical sense and creativity that is present in all of us.
The New Humanism Project is the place where it all starts and comes together again, and you may want to read an intro to it here. Check also this dry factual bio if you want to know more about how, where and with whom in the world I engage in philosophical activism today.
Adventures in hyperreflexive art
Based on the idea that philosophical activism also needs some kind of meta-reflection, I developed an art practice parallel to my philosophical work. This ‘art as research’ practice starts from the question of what social agency and humanism can mean ‘in a world still struggling with the cramps of modernity’. In practice, the art suggests the existence and working of a hypothetical research institute – The Institute of Idle Curiosity for Elements of Seduction – that engages in the study of ‘a new humanism beyond the comforts of ideological polarisation, political detachment and social pseudo-tolerance’, and this in all possible art forms (web presence, text, visual materials, music & soundscapes, installations, performances and happenings).
The journal of The Institute of Idle Curiosity for Elements of Seduction and the website of The Arts Institute are entry points to the whole of my art practice.
Academic studies & research
PhD researcher in moral philosophy at the Centre for Ethics and Value Inquiry (Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, University of Ghent, Belgium)
Master degrees in theoretical physics (1991; orientation quantum physics, theory of relativity and cosmology) and nuclear physics (1993) from the University of Ghent, Belgium
Master degree in information & intelligent decision technologies (orientation artificial intelligence) from the Technical University of Ghent, Belgium, 1987.
Researcher at the Centre for Ethics and Value Inquiry (Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, University of Ghent, Belgium) (part-time) https://research.flw.ugent.be/nl/cevi / project website www.the-possibility-of-global-governance.net
Researcher and lecturer on ethics of science and technology with the Science & Technology Studies group of the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (part-time) https://www.sckcen.be/ethics
Guest lecturer at the Rijksakademie Amsterdam, the International Atomic Energy Agency, Trinity College Dublin, the Polytechnic University of Madrid, the Aachen Technical University, the World Nuclear University, the Higher Institute of Fine Arts (HISK, Ghent), the University of Hasselt
Member of the Steering Committee of the Constituency of Research-oriented Non-Governmental Organisations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (www.ringos.net)
Member of the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (www.imadr.org)
Guest author for Apache.be, a site for ‘investigative journalism to the fourth dimension’ (in Dutch) (www.apache.be/gastbijdragen/auteur/gaston-meskens/)
Member of the research & activism collective stRaten-Generaal (www.stratengeneraal.be)
Supporting Board member of the Intellectual Capital Institute of Africa (an NGO based in Ghana