"The contradictions in society are immense. We need to bridge this gap, and the I-Thou relationship is good place to start.”
Read the thought-provoking interview with Marc Pauly by Thomas Vos on the power of dialogue with others & nature, on the UG-website. Pauly is a member of our D&g theme .
Marc Pauly is a researcher in the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Groningen. He has a PhD in logic with a focus on computing science, and studied and taught at Stanford University. His mission is to generate a greater understanding between people, and between people and nature. He sees knowledge as a way of helping society, whether this involves safety and nuisance in a neighborhood in Groningen or the way that we are treating nature in 2023. Philosophical theory provides an important lead.
Pauly's background is interdisciplinary with a degree in Symbolic Systems at Stanford University which combined computer science, psychology, and philosophy. He specialized in logic which is part math and part philosophy. However, his interests changed along the way and he moved from computer software to social software, thinking about how people make use of algorithms to organize society.
He arrived in Groningen in 2008 and his focus turned to socio-political philosophy. He set to work on a deliberative survey about safety and nuisance in the Groningen neighborhood of De Wijert. This was a novel approach in the Netherlands at the time. Surveys like this work by choosing a random sample of people, who are then primed with information about various aspects of a topic. They then make a choice, generating a representative result. He also applies the philosophy of Martin Buber, who distinguished between two matters: the I-It relationship, based on the view of other human beings as people with objective features, such as hair color, gender, or age and the I-Thou relationship which emphasizes the importance of real, face-to-face interactions between two individuals, as a way to build understanding and empathy.
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