Couch Cottage

As vacation time is approaching, we ask ourselves, whether to choose the comfortable couch or the remote cottage. This is the proposition of Roger-Pol Droit in “Le Monde Livres” (“Sagesse 2024: cabane ou canapé“, 28.6.2024 p.36) based on the reading of “Ma cabane sans peine” by Alain Guyard and “Philosophie du Canapé” by Stefano Scrima.
The couch stands for the lazy life or “vita contemplativa“, thinking about philosophical topics that need a certain form of laid back behaviour to allow your brain to sort out tricky questions or to ask yourself, what is, was or will be important questions. Many academics shut themselves away from the busy life outside to reserve more time for couch thinking. The usual products of this activity practised on chairs and couches is more or less digestable books. Some make a comfortable living out of this active inactivity.
The cottage approach follows another longstanding philosophical tradition associated with Dionysos. Living a simple life in a remote place, but full of life’s enjoyment allows to exalt in the dithyrambic atmosphere of the countryside.
Rather than the either, or issue: couch or cottage, I go along with the dialectics of Hegel, who forms out of thesis and antithesis the synthesis. In our example this is obviously equal to “take the couch to the cottage“, problem solved. Additionally Nietzsches version of “Die fröhliche Wissenschaft” seems to prolong the dialectic experience of going beyond the “neither, nor” dichotomy to combine both couch and cottage.
You sensed it. It will be a rather exciting summer break to pursue on the many roads to “Sagesse 2024” (Wisdom 2024).

Art or Profession

In political science it is a long tradition to discuss, whether politics is an art or a profession. The idealist tradition, going back as far as Plato in ancient Greek history of ideas, puts the exercise of politics near the exercise of a divine art to do justice. Much later in the history of ideas Max Weber rather bluntly defined politics as a profession (original in German) that requires to master a set of competences.
Recent elections in Europe (EU, France, UK, Belgium) and around the globe (India, USA) in 2024 add interesting case studies to the old question. Is politics an art or a profession?
In modern politics the life course or life cycle of a politician consists of at least 2 phases: (1) the electoral campaign before and (2) the potential of governing or opposition. Each phase requires a different set of competences. In phase 1 it is important to propose a new or different ideal from the previous government. Charismatic presentation of an ideal set of policies is asked for.  In phase 2 it is required of the politician to forge compromises, either within the own political party or beyond boundaries of political parties. Certainly, in multi-level governance systems like the European Union additional forms of coalition building across countries is required, intercultural competence or language skills are an advantage here.
The 2 phases of the life cycle of a politician require different sets of skills. Charisma as mentioned by Plato and Weber can get a politician into power and charismatic leadership can get you through a lot of coalition building. On the other hand, modern campaigning in repeated elections is a specialized competence that resembles marketing expertise as well as “reading of statistics” and in-depth analyses of shifting or stable preferences of electorates and to succinct conclusions on this basis. Running a political party or a parliamentary group is yet another leadership skill just like communication skills that, beyond many prejudices, can be learned.
In a nutshell. Politics is an art and a profession. The art consists in the variable combination of different sets of competences. Art requires competences just as professions can be turned into art.  Welcome to the hybrid world of modern politics. (Image extract from MAD Paris, Picasso, Schiaparelli)