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Thinking with and against…

July 26, 2011

Like all the best things, the name of my website arose organically one day; I had been talking about my thesis more and more as “working with and against.” I got withandagainst.com and there my portfolio lives, though I don’t explain it much anywhere — in the about section I just say “Betsy Medvedovsky works well with and against constraints.”

Since then I’ve been thinking whether it sounds a tad too negative. (Us naturally negative people are constantly wary of such things.) Or at least, not immediately understandable. As all things should be, no?

In any case I google it “with and against” today quite randomly; I was quite moved to discover that it seems to come up often with relationship to Hannah Arendt reacting to Martin Heidegger’s (her one-time teacher, mentor, lover) work:

“The phrase Maier-Katkin uses—with astonishing frequency—to describe Arendt’s relationship with Heidegger is “thinking with and against,” which he sees her doing in much of her work. The phrase casts the relationship in the mold of the “two-in-one” duality of a mind engaged in philosophical thought: one voice reacting to what the other proposes in response, revision, rejection, or what Karl Jaspers called the “loving struggle of the mind.” (More.)

Well, ok. so I’m no philosopher so it’s hard to delve too far deep into this. But I do have a fondness for Hannah Arendt and love this idea of “thinking with and against” your mentor and your teacher. You start off with where they are and then you react against it…

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