22 March 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin | Photo Stephen Collett
Prof Johann Rossouw Inaugural lecture
Prof Heidi Hudson, Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities; Prof Fani de Beer, Prof Rossouw’s mentor; Prof Johann Rossouw; and Dr Engela van Staden, Vice-Rector: Academic.

For Prof Johann Rossouw from the Department of Philosophy, the Naval Hill Planetarium – a digital planetarium on a hill in the centre of a modern city, was the perfect place to deliver his inaugural lecture titled, The soul of the academy.

The message of his inaugural lecture was on “the form adopted by the contemporary university, which is so focused on the quantitative that the qualitative is neglected. The focus on training is so strong that the university no longer pays attention to the education of students”.

Prof Rossouw referred to the soul of the academy as the highest in humanity, especially the part which cannot be counted. He also referred to the words of Blaise Pascal in the 17th century: “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing”.

“Do we understand any of this in the contemporary university? And do we still remember the earliest origins from which the academy originated; that Philosophy is the mother discipline of all other disciplines, and how all contemporary disciplines form part of a bigger, coherent entity?” he asked.

The inaugural lecture took place on 28 February 2019. Prof Rossouw has a C2-rating from the National Research Foundation, and it is thanks to him, among other things, that the Department of Philosophy is the only South African Philosophy department with modernity studies as its main focus.

At the end of 2018, he was promoted to Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Free State (UFS), and currently he serves as acting Head of Department. “Due to Prof Rossouw’s involvement, among other things, research on African philosophy, critical theory, postcolonial thinking, and tradition and modernity is conducted in the department,” Prof Heidi Hudson (Dean: the Humanities) said.

Prof Rossouw started his formal training in Philosophy at the age of 12, and in 1991 he obtained a BA degree majoring in Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Pretoria, with distinction. He obtained his MA degree, a critical study of apartheid on the basis of Michel Foucault’s thinking, at Unisa in 1998. In 2002, he obtained his DEA in Philosophy at the University of Lyon 3 under the leadership of Régis Debray, and in 2013 his PHD on the theological trail in Bernard Stiegler’s thinking at Monsh University (Melbourne), under Michael Janover.

In 2016, he won a prize from the South African Academy for Science and Culture for one of the best Afrikaans humanity articles published in 2015.


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