“Angels, the Space of Time, and Apocalyptic Blindness: On Günther Anders’ Endzeit — Endtime.” In: Etica & Politica – Ethics & Politics: Potere e violenza in Günther Anders – Power & Violence in the Thinking of Günther Anders. XV, 1 (2013): 144-174.


Applied Ethics | Continental Philosophy | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Philosophy


Anders was a preeminent critic of technology and critic of the atomic bomb as he saw this hermeneutico-phenomenologically in the visceral sense of being and time: the sheer that of its having been used (where the Nietzschean dialectic of the ‘having been’ reflects the essence of modern technology) as well as the bland politics of nuclear proliferation functions as programmatic aggression advanced in the name of defense and deterrence. The tactic of sheerly technological, automatic, mechanical, aggression is carried out in good conscience. The preemptive strike is, as Baudrillard observed, the opponent’s fault: such are the wages of evil. Violence in good conscience characterizes the postwar, cold war era and the present day with its mushrooming effects of neo-fascism under the titles of national security and anti-terrorism. Karl Krauss’ 1913 bon mot regarding psychoanalysis as the very insanity it claims to cure [Psychoanalyse ist jene Geisteskrankheit, für deren Therapie sie sich halt] has never been more apt for political translation — straight into the heart of what Lacan called the Real which has ‘always been’ the political register. Where Habermas and heirs have tended to disregard Anders (as they also sidestep Heidegger and Nietzsche), just as most philosophers of technology (and indeed philosophers of science) have ignored the political as well as the ethical in their eagerness to avoid suspicion of technophobia, we continue to require both critical theory and a critical philosophy of technology, a conjunction incorporating Ander’s complicated dialectic less of art in Benjamin’s prescient but still innocent age of technological reproduction but and much rather “on the devastation of life in the age of the third industrial revolution.” Thus rather than reading Anders’ critique of the bomb as limited to a time we call the Atomic Age — as Anders himself varied Samuel Beckett’s 1957 Endgame (Fin de partie) as Endzeit that is “Endtime,” here invoking the eschatological language of Jacob Taubes as Anders does — this essay connects his reflections on the bomb with his critique of technology and the obsolescence of humanity as of a piece with our dedication to hurling ourselves against our own mortality. This concern with the violence of technology, this hatred of the vulnerability of having been born and having been set on a path unto death (the mortal path that is the path of life) inspires Anders’ engagement with the sons of Eichmann — the heirs of those who designed and executed the Nazi death camps and extermination chambers of the Holocaust — and the sons of Claude Eatherly — the heirs of both those who designed and those who as pilots (banality of banality) deployed the bombings that exploded the supposed stuff of the sun itself contra the Empire of the Sun in the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We, embroiled as we are in wartime after wartime, suppressing public protest on a scale like never before, in country after country across the globe, cannot dispense with Anders today.



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