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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 5, 2019

Verdinglichung und Zerstörung. Günther Anders und der Begriff der Geschichte im Jahr 1941

Anna Pollmann
From the journal Naharaim


The article discusses the transformation of the concept of History as it can be traced in the writings of Günther Anders. Anders is primarily known as a critique of modern technology specifically of the atomic bomb, which made him a mentor for the first anti-nuclear movement in West-Germany in the late 1950s. His historical thinking was therefore mainly perceived in its post-historic and apocalyptic dimensions. A closer look at his earlier writings reveals not only that his questioning of the modern concept of History began long before the “ontological cesura” of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The article discusses two unpublished philosophical manuscripts as well as passages from his Californian diaries, both dating from 1940/41 and focussing the concept of progress. To follow his thoughts from two different angles – historical philosophical inquiry (however fragmented) and the literary form of his diary – gives us insight in his specific methodology of writing coined “Gelegenheitsphilosophie”. This specific form between “journalism and metaphysics” enables Anders to review abstract philosophical concepts on the basis of everyday observation. In the crucial year 1941 Anders reviews progress-thought from the perspective of a Hollywood film studio, raising questions of tradition, authenticity and technological progress in cultural production.

Published Online: 2019-12-05
Published in Print: 2019-12-18

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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