Author: Brecht Molenaar

Brecht Molenaar

Brecht Molenaar (1965) has master’s degrees in Ethics of Care, Humanistic Studies and Dutch Linguistics and Literature. She has been working as a humanistic spiritual counsellor for twenty years in the domain of healthcare. Developments in the field and her profession became a matter of concern to her. Ethics of care became her primary interest, in particular the presence approach as a care ethical way of approaching people in giving care, social work and education. She is involved in a foundation that aims at contributing to this kind of practices (Dutch: Stichting Presentie). Her focus is on teaching people in such care giving and in leading such practices. She also writes and gives lectures about (religious) humanism, critical ethics of care, relational care giving and caring policies.

Bach and Care Ethics

Has Bach got anything to do with care ethics? Yes, indeed, so I will argue. Although he was a composer of the Early Eighteenth Century, living in the context of protestant Germany, his sacred vocal work can be understood in a way that from a care ethical point of view still has significance for people in present-day society. Continue reading Bach and Care Ethics

Dancing for peace

In August 2016, the Dutch TV programme Nieuwsuur aired a report by Roozbeh Kaboly (TV journalist and producer for Dutch National Television) about a 26-year-old dancer. While millions of Syrians had fled their war-torn country, Ahmad Joudeh was one of those who had to stay behind because he was, as he explained, too poor to escape the war.
Continue reading Dancing for peace

Questioning the Dutch political discourse regarding ‘completed life’

Should the state facilitate assisted suicide when someone develops a death wish on account of the prospect of needing a wheelchair? And what should the response be when, if it involves a couple, one of the two partners has this prospect and will likely need to move to a nursing home, so that the couple can no longer live together as before? Should there be a state-regulated organization to fulfil their shared wish to die? Continue reading Questioning the Dutch political discourse regarding ‘completed life’

Call for Abstracts for seminar ‘Care and Counselling as Social Action. Interreligious Cooperation in Urban Migration Contexts’


You are invited to participate in the poster session of the Seminar ‘Care and Counselling as Social Action. Interreligious Cooperation in Urban Migration Contexts’.
Please submit your abstract until 30 June, 2016 and don’t forget to register. Continue reading Call for Abstracts for seminar ‘Care and Counselling as Social Action. Interreligious Cooperation in Urban Migration Contexts’

Nine misunderstandings regarding ‘completed life’

In 2017, a member of the Dutch House of Representatives – Ms Pia Dijkstra – published a legislative proposal under the right of initiative. The proposed act carries the name ‘Wet toetsing levenseindebegeleiding van ouderen op verzoek’ (‘Termination of Life on Request by the Elderly [Review Procedures] Act), and is popularly referred to as the ‘completed life act’. Continue reading Nine misunderstandings regarding ‘completed life’

Lotta Blokker


When Lotta Blokker (Amsterdam 1980) first encountered the work of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin, during a secondary school excursion to the Musée Rodin in Paris, she felt that her destiny had been determined. Read more

“This is it”, she thought, looking at Rodin’s works. At the age of nineteen she travelled to Italy to study sculpture at the Florence Academy of Art.
The high points of the history of the art of sculpture can be seen in her works: from the Venus of Milo via Donatello’s Mary Magdalene to The Thinker by Auguste Rodin. But she also takes work by the great painters such as Vincent van Gogh, Lucian Freud and Marlene Dumas and translates them into sculptures. What all these examples from art history have in common with Blokker is a powerful and sensitive oeuvre that captivate and enchant the viewing public. Her work can be found in private collections from Europe to the United States and is regularly featured in international exhibitions.

“It’s a boy”

The sculpture “It’s a boy” is one of the figures from ‘The Hour of the Wolf’ series – on which Blokker worked for five years – that transports visitors on a nocturnal journey to various emotions. Read more

There is an encounter with an elderly demented lady who is not sure of where she is, a staring boy pressing his hand against a window and a young woman who is lying naked and aggravated on the ground. Lotta about the hour of the wolf: “While you feel lonely during those sleepless hours, you do not realize that you are sharing this sleeplessness with many others. They, too, lie awake in the darkness, anxious or sorrowful
about things that have happened or are about to happen. Or they may be excited and hopeful about what is coming. Whereas daytime provides distraction, the night – agreeably or otherwise – gives the opportunity to retreat into yourself. Your imagination goes on the rampage, ideas bubble up, solutions appear out of nowhere.”
There are no further diversions in the night and feelings can no longer be suppressed. Blokker describes her project as a nocturnal, intimate confrontation with our self: “What I find so attractive in people is their sincere emotion. That is something you feel at night mostly, when people have to fall back upon themselves.” Her bronzes are more than figures of people of flesh and blood. They are symbolic portraits that function as a mirror, so that we can recognize ourselves.

“It’s a boy” and ethics of care

To support the content of our website we have chosen the image “It’s a boy” because there are two figures involved. Good care is fundamentally relational. Although the motivation of Lotta Blokker herself might have been different, we see this image as symbolic for a distinguishing characteristic of care ethics. Read more

Good care practice will appear to be care that arises from a relationship-based programming. This means that the caregiver programs it on: leaving his or her own professional position, walking (metaphorically) to the place behind the one who is taken care of, joining in, as much as possible, with the perspective of the other person and then walking back to his or her own position in order to develop a substantial idea about good care for this person at this moment at this place. Doing so caregivers get to know the concerns that matter most to care receivers. In that sense the two figures from “It’s a boy” – the one standing behind the other – can be understood as an image of the caregiver who takes up the position and perspective of the care receiver.
Blokker describes a kind of decentralization of the ego during the time that she is dedicated to the practice of sculpting. The contact with her models is important in connection to her work: indeed, as it shows, in trying to capture the soul of the other person. Here we see a certain similarity with the process of care giving.
The epistemological starting point in care ethics, both in practices of care and in carrying out qualitative inquiries, is empirically grounded in the daily lived life of specific and concrete caregivers and care receivers in their context. It is this reality of daily life, the concreteness of vulnerable human beings in the sculptures of Blokker, that appeals to us.
In a care ethical view, care is not only identified with the reduction of vulnerability that is desired. Good care is in itself a realization of acceptance of vulnerability, or contingency, guided by the consciousness that it inevitably goes together with all that makes human life a good or at least livable life.

Lotta Blokker. Sculpturen – sculptures – Skulpturen. The hour of the wolf. The Hour of the Wolf. Museum De Fundatie, Panoramamuseum and Käthe-Kollwitz-Museum. Waanders & De Kunst, 2015.

By Brecht Molenaar and Jeannet van de Kamp