* ENGLISH: Global Knowledge *

Selected event, spring of 2019:

March 24-25, 2019: The Berliner Festival (Berliner Festspiele, Maerz Musik): Dag Herbjørnsrud, speech and workshop: «Beyond Eurocentrism and Tribal History: Towards Decolonization and Connected Histories» (March 25, 10:00-14:00. Haus der Berliner Festspiele).

3 selected events, fall of 2018:

*** Center for Global and Comparative History of Ideas (Senter for global and komparativ idéhistorie, SGOKI) is an Oslo-based, non-commercial cooperative founded in April 2015. ***

Dedicated to the study of cross-cultural connections and global
interconnectedness, SGOKI is led by the global historian of ideas, author, and former editor-in-chief Dag Herbjørnsrud (dag@sgoki.org). Phone: +47 916 95 196.

The project’s first published book is (translated title) «Global Knowledge. Renaissance for a new Enlightenment» (Norwegian: Globalkunnskap. Renessanse for en ny opplysningstid), 510 pp, published in Norwegian at Scandinavian Academic Press, 2016. Second edition: Oct 2018. More information below. Regarding translation rights: Mail kontakt@sgoki.org

The SGOKI projects have received support from The Norwegian Arts Council, The Freedom of Expression Foundation (Fritt Ord), and the Committee for Higher Education.

«Your essay is absolutely one of the all time great Aeon essays and perhaps the most shared internationally – quite extraordinary and a wonder achievement on your part.»

Sam Dresser, editor at Aeon, on Dag Herbjørnsrud’s essay «The African Enlightenment» (Dec 2017), which covers the Ethiopian philosopher Zera Yacob (1599-1692) and the Ghana-born philosopher Anton Wilhelm Amo (ca 1705-1755). Aeon is «publishing some of the most profound and provocative thinking on the web. We ask the big questions and find the freshest, most original answers, provided by leading thinkers on science, philosophy, society and the arts.»

Praise for Global Knowledge. Renaissance for a New Enlightenment (Globalkunnskap, 2016

«An enormously important project.» Professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, during a 30 min. talk about Global Knowledge at national public radio (NRK P2).

Ny bok fra SGOKI: Globalkunnskap. Renessanse for en ny opplysningstid
New book: Globalkunnskap. Renessanse for en ny opplysningstid (2016), Norw. version. By Dag Herbjørnsrud. Main picture on this page: Aaron Watson/Univ. of Reading, UK (from p. 244 in the book).

«The book Global Knowledge tries to re-build a history of ideas which is much more inclusive than the one we find at Norwegian universities today… Maybe the experimental Globalkunnskap, which puts weight to the societal (and political) role of the educational system, can be of inspiration for other places than Norway as well – as one here often is deaf to what comes to us from ‘the outside’.» Reviewer, philosopher of science and doctoral student at the University of Lisboa, Naïd Mubalegh, Salongen

«A very ambitious attempt at breaking with the in our times all-too-widespread structures of methodological and epistemological nationalism and ethnocentrism.» Researcher Sindre Bangstad, KIFO – Centre for Church Research

«Refreshing read in a time characterized by new and often unconsidered nationalism both in Europe and other places. This project has parallels with both the Big-History movement.. and the tradition of global history that I’m a part of, but Herbjørnsrud’s global knowledge is aligned with history of ideas and is about identity and self-understanding.» Reviewer, associate professor of history at the University of Bergen, Eivind Heldaas Seland, Globalhistorie

«After having read Globalkunnskap you have a much further outlook, and a much better starting point in order to understand  the basis for how we think.» Reviewer Nora Warholm Essahli, 

Sosiologen«Herbjørnsrud shows us that the world seems to be both larger and smaller than we are being taught to believe… It is not done in a jiffy to grasp the totality of his revolutionary project. But Herbjørnsrud creates the thirst of knowledge in me because he knows how to provoke.» Reviewer Andrew P. Kroglund, the journal Prosa

«Herbjørnsrud has written a very important book about the most important political phenomenon of our time…» Reviewer Paal Frisvold, the monthly Ny Tid

PROJECT: Decolonizing the Academy

  • The paper «Beyond Eurocentrism and Tribal History: Towards Decolonization and Connected Histories» was presented by Dag Herbjørnsrud at the INTH-conference at Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden, on August 21st, 2018. ABSTRACT HERE.
  • Norway’s first public debate on decolonizing the academy was held at the University of the Life Sciences (Ås), on the outskirts of Oslo, on April 30th 2018, 5-8 p.m. The debate was hosted by SAIH Ås and Ubuntu. Speakers: Prof. Peter Gufu Oba and Dag Herbjørnsrud. INFO IN ENGLISH: «UBUNTU and SAIH-Ås are happy to invite you a rich discussion regarding the decolonization of academia. Join us to discuss the dominance of western ideology and its suppression of «others» in academia with renowned historian Dag Herbjørnsrud and learn about decolonizing in practice with Noragric Professor Peter Gufu Oba.» (In April 2018, SAIH declared that they are working for a decolonizing of academia («Avkolonisering av høyere utdanning«).

5 texts in English, based on «the global knowledge project»:

I. «The Radical Philosophy of Egypt: Forget God and Family, Write!»: Blog of the APA, Dec 17, 2018

Article on the Egyptian philosopher Irsesh* and the astonishing text «The Immortality of Writers» («Be A Writer!»), ca 1200 BCE. Published at the Blog of the American Philosophical Association (APA).

Intro: «New research indicates that Plato and Aristotle were right: Philosophy and the term “love of wisdom” hail from Egypt.»

Excerpt: «These Greek descriptions of Egypt have often been disregarded in the past couple of hundred years. But the scholarship of the 21st century has opened up a new possibility: the founding Greek word philosophos, lover of wisdom, is itself a borrowing from and translation of the Egyptian concept mer-rekh (mr-rḫ) which literally means “lover of wisdom,” or knowledge.

In 2005, The Book of Thoth was finally collected and translated into English. This text originates partly from the 12th century BCE, as Egyptologist Joachim Quack has pointed out. And in this book, “the-one-who-loves-knowledge” (mer-rekh) is a central figure. The philosopher (mer-rekh) is the scholar who desires to know the wisdom of Thoth, the author of books.

The translators of the Thoth book, Richard Jasnow and Karl-Theodor Zauzich, note the word mer-rekh and its “striking Egyptian parallel to Greek Philosophos.” As Ian Rutherford pointed out in 2016, Quack has demonstrated that the Pythagorean concept of akousmata is indebted to Demotic wisdom, arguing “even that the Greek term ‘philosophos’ is based on Egyptian.”

The Greek respect for the Egyptian love of wisdom, philosophy, is a context that can explain Plato’s statement in Phaedrus that the Egyptian Thoth “invented numbers and arithmetic… and, most important of all, letters.” This also makes it easier to understand Socrates, who in Plato’s Timaeus quotes the ancient Egyptian wise men when the law-giver Solon travels to Egypt to learn: “O Solon, Solon, you Greeks are always children.”»

II. «First women of philosophy«: Aeon. November 23, 2018

Essay by Dag Herbjørnsrud about the women philosophers of the Global South:

On Gargi and Maitreyi from the Upanishads. On Sulabha, Ubhaya Bharati, and Akka Mahadevi from India. Ban Zhao, Jing Jiang, and Mei Danran from China.

Im Yunjidang from Korea. Rabia from Basra, in today’s Iraq. Aishah Al-Ba’uniyyah from Damascus, in today’s Syria. Nana Asma’u from the Sokoto Caliphate, in today’s Nigeria. And Sor Juana from Mexico.

The text also describes how the new «Canon», from ca 1825 onwards, excluded non-European philosophy and women (cf Peter JK Park’s book Africa, Asia, and the History of Philosophy, 2013). READ THE AEON ESSAY HERE

III. «The Real Battle of Vienna«: Aeon. July 24, 2018.

Excerpt:

«So the Battle of Vienna wasn’t a war between the cross and the crescent. It was not a clash of civilisations, a mighty Christian victory over Islam. Rather, Sunni

Muslim Tatars were vital in helping the Catholic Polish king on the one side – just as Lutheran Hungarians were allied with the Sunni Muslim Sultan on the other.

The year 1683, in the end, was just another year of battles over power and influence between the great states of Europe.»

IV. «The African Enlightenment«: Aeon. Dec 13, 2017

Dag Herbjørnsrud on the African rational Enlightenment philosophers Zera Yacob (1599-1692, Ethopia) and Anton Wilhelm Amo (1703-1755, Axim, Ghana – lived and taught philosophy in Halle, Wittenberg, Jena in the 1730-40s).

The essay reached the number 1 spot as the month’s most shared and read text on AEON, which is dedicated to publish groundbreaking texts «by leading thinkers on science, philosophy, society and the arts«.

«The African Enlightenment» was ranked by Trendolizer as one of the most shared stories on the Internet, while MuckRack measured it to have earned more thousands of social media shares.

The AEON essay was recommended by, among others, Quartz, and highlighted by Arts & Letters Daily as one of the «Articles of Note» (Jan10th, 2018). 

 

Amy Cools at Ordinary Philosophy«Herbjørnsrud asks: ‘Will Yacob and Amo also one day be elevated to the position they deserve among the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment?’ Herbjørnsrud has inspired me to respond ‘I very much hope so!’»

The AEON essay was syndicated and translated (Clara Allain) by Brazil’s largest newspaper, Folha de S. Paulo: «Os africanos que propuseram ideias iluministas antes de Locke e Kant«.

Within a week, the Portuguese text gained more than 13.000  Facebook-shares.

On February 8th 2018, the Italian weekly Internazionale translated and published the AEON article as «L’illuminismo africano».

 

The illustrations in Internazionale are made by Angelo Monne.

ZERA YACOB: «Internazionale», February 2018. By Angelo Monne.

Illustration by Angelo Monne regarding Anton Wilhelm Amo:

ANTON WILHELM AMO: «Internazionale», February 2018. By Angelo Monne.

In February 2018, the AEON essay was translated into Farsi and published by the independent magazine Tarjomaan in Tehran, Iran, as پیشگامان آفریقایی لاک، هیوم و کانت. It was made one of the main stories.

 

 

 

 

 

The text on Zera Yacob and Anton Wilhelm Amo was in February 2018 also translated into Norwegian by Afrika.no: «Afrikas ukjente opplysningsfilosofer«.

COMPARISON: Anton Wilhelm Amo (ca 1703-1755) (left), born/died in Ghana, taught philosophy at German universities (Halle, Jena) in the 1730s , decades before Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) became famous. Ill: Afrika.no

*** «Philosophy Tube» (Olly Lennard) made a 11-minute program on Zera Yacob, referring to Dag Herbjørnsrud. Watch the episode «African Philosophy and the Enlightenment» here.

From Twitter

Before Locke and Newton was Zera Yacob. The Ethiopian philosopher hid from persecution in a cave, where he created some of the highest ideals of the Enlightenment

Before Locke and Newton was Zera Yacob. The Ethiopian philosopher hid from persecution in a cave, where he created some of the highest ideals of the Enlightenment: Before Locke and Newton was Zera Yacob. The Ethiopian philosopher hid from…

The neglected work 2 African philosophers in the 17th & 18th centuries: Ethiopian philosopher Zera Yacob (1599-1692); & Anton Amo (c1703-55), who was born & died in Guinea, today’s Ghana but also lived in Germany.

 15 Dec 2017

 I think the enlightened Zera Yacob would be shocked to see racism, slavery and inequalities in the 21st century. «Yacob argued with her [his wife’s] master, who did not think a servant woman was equal to an educated man»

V. «Global History of Ideas: A Sea for Fish on Dry Land»

Dag Herbjørnsrud on Zhuangzi, Buber, and Heidegger at the blog of the Journal of the History of Ideas (US), published February 15th, 2017. An argument for a global history of ideas based on the notions of connection/contact, complexity, and comparison.

«Global History of Ideas: A Sea for Fish on Dry Land» became one of the five most read articles at JHIB in 2017: «Here is a list of our most popular posts this year to keep you in reading until we return in the New Year. Happy Holidays Everyone! “In Dread of Derrida,” by Jonathon Catlin. “Global/Universal History: A Warning,” by Disha Karnad Jani. “Towards an Intellectual History of the Alt-Right?” by Yitzchak Schwartz. “Global History of Ideas: A Sea for Fish on Dry Land,” by Dag Herbjørnsrud.»

Intro: «A remarkable example of how ideas migrate across so-called cultural borders and change minds in unknown ways happened in the German city of Bremen on October 8, 1930. There, Martin Heidegger gave a speech based upon his masterwork Being and Time (1927). Afterwards, he and several of Bremen’s citizens gathered at the home of a wholesaler. During the evening, Heidegger suddenly turned to his host and asked, “Mister Kellner, would you please bring me the Parables of Zhuangzi? I would like to read some passages from it…»

Praise for the text «A Global History of Ideas»:

Warp, Weft, and Way. Chinese and Comparative Philosophy: «Dag Herbjørnsrud has written a fascinating entry at the Journal of the History of Idea blog, which begins as follows…»

Professor Darren M. McMahon, Darmouth University:  «A lovely little essay this. Heidegger and the Tao.»

MourseAestethic, Balliol College, Oxford: «This on Heidegger’s contact with Chinese and Japanese thought through Buber and Shuzo Kuki is extremely good:»

New book: GLOBAL KNOWLEDGE (2016)

As part of the ongoing SGOKI project Herbjornsrud has written the book Global Knowledge. Renaissance for a New Enlightenment (Or: The Untold Story of Diversity Past and Present, in Norwegian: Globalkunnskap. Renessanse for en ny opplysningstid), launched by Scandinavian Academic Press (SAP) on Aug 29th 2016.

The book has been funded by The Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions (UHR), the Fritt Ord (Free Word) Foundation, and the fund of The Norwegian Non-fiction Writers and Translators Association (NFFO).

The 510 page publication, including 843 endnotes, aims to connect the thinking of the so-called East and West, past and present: From Eneheduanna, Gargi and the classic secular Lokayata philosophy of India via Plato, Mozi and Dante  to Murasaki’s The Tale of Genji, Elizabeth Stanton, and the film The Matrix.

Building on post-colonial theories by Derrida and Spivak, Herbjørnsrud argues that we should reject cultural theories that divide humanity’s historiy into different nations or civilizations. We should rather compare the different philosophies and cultural expressions with each other, discovering connections across ages and seas. In the words of, the often misunderstood, Rudyard Kipling:

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,

When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

In Globalkunnskap Herbjørnsrud argues that Max Weber, in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, misquotes Benjamin Franklin. Herbjørnsrud also attempts to deconstruct The Western Canon (1994) by Harold Bloom, trying to reconstruct a more global perspective by pointing out the cross-cultural writings of Plato, Aristotle , Augustin, Dante, Cervantes and Shakespeare.

The book Globalkunnskap can be viewed as an attempt to rediscover our diverse world – past and present. The world seems to be both smaller and bigger than we are being taught to think.

Posting  by Sindre Bangstad, Researcher at KIFO – Centre for Church Research: «A global history of ideas: At 510 dense pages, a weight of 734 grammes, 843 endnotes and 1,005 million characters, the Norwegian historian of ideas and former media editor Dag Herbjornsrud‘s ‘Globalhistorie – Renessanse for en ny opplysningstid‘ (Scandinavian Academic Press, 2016) can not be characterized as light reading for the faint-hearted. But it represents a very ambitious attempt at breaking with the in our times all-too-widespread structures of methodological and epistemological nationalism and ethnocentrism. It also comes with a number of rich colour illustrations. Full disclosure: I have been one of three editorial referees on the manuscript, but given limitations of time, I have still not been able to ascertain whether that has had all that much to say for the tenor and format of the final result. In any event, congratulations are in order for the author’s mammoth undertaking, which I understand has been no less than ten years in the making.»

Click here for some of the media coverage (publisher), or the book’s page at this site (in Norwegian).

In November 2016 the national public radio program «Ekko» (NRK2) dedicated a 30 minutes conversation between professor Thomas  Hylland Eriksen and Dag Herbjørnsrud on the book Globalkunnskap.

The Facebook-page of Globalkunnskap is here.

Buy the book at Amazon.

For intro pages, content, name index, and selected pages with illustrations, click below:

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Click here for the lengthy review in Prosa (Norw.), the journal for the union of Norway’s non-fiction authors and translators (NFFO).

Click here for the Norwegian site, with additional info, interviews, op-eds, and reviews.

Herbjørnsrud

Dag Herbjornsrud (b. 1971) is an Oslo-based historian of ideas (cand.philol.), who wrote his thesis on Robert Nozick, pragmatism and North American  philosophy in the 1980s and 1990s (2002), and is a former graduate of West County High School in Missouri, USA.

He has co-authored three non-fiction books (2002-2005) with Stian Bromark, including the Brage prize-nominated Frykten for Amerika (The Fear of America. A European story) (2003, reviewed in Hudson Review). Herbjornsrud has been the Nordic columnist for Al Jazeera’s English website (2004-2005) where he provided global views on the US, on the European-Arab-connection, and on historical topics), as well as a contributing writer for Berkshire Publishing Group (Mass, USA) and it’s book Global Perspectives on the United States (Vol. 3, 2007). He has contributed to Open Democracy (UK), in addition to writing for 00TAL (Sweden, English version) and humanity science periodicals in Norway.

Herbjornsrud has written portrait interviews with the Nobel  Literature Prize recipient, Nadine Gordimer, and the author Hans Magnus Enzensberger for the Danish newspaper Information (1993-1994), in addition to a rather shorter interview with Nelson Mandela for Morgenbladet (1993), and held a lengthier public conversation with Harry Belafonte (2012).

Herbjørnsrud worked as a journalist/commentator at the conservative paper Aftenposten for ten years (1995-2005), and was the editor-in-chief/editor and/or CEO at the left-wing weekly Ny Tid for just as long (2005-2015). He now takes care of the projects of SGOKI, in addition to writing books.

Contact, author:  dag@sgoki.org

Phone: +47 916 95 196

Address: P.O. Box 1581 Vika, 0118 Oslo, Norway.

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