Günther Stern and Hannah Arendt (1929)
12 July 1902
|Died||17 December 1992 90) (aged|
|Alma mater||University of Freiburg|
|School||Continental philosophy, phenomenology|
Günther Anders (born Günther Siegmund Stern; Breslau, 12 July 1902 – Vienna, 17 December 1992) was a German philosopher, journalist, essayist and poet.
Trained in the phenomenological tradition, he developed a philosophical anthropology for the age of technology, focusing on such themes as the effects of mass media on our emotional and ethical existence, the illogic of religion, the nuclear threat, the Shoah, and the question of being a philosopher.
In 1992, shortly before his death, Günther Anders was awarded the Sigmund Freud Prize.
At the time of his birth his native Breslau (now Wrocław in Poland) had become the 6th largest city in the German Empire, with a Jewish population of about 20,000, 5% of the city's population.He was the son of founders of child developmental psychology Clara and William Stern as well as a cousin of Walter Benjamin. Anders was married three times, to the German philosopher and political scientist Hannah Arendt from 1929 to 1937, to the Austrian writer Elisabeth Freundlich from 1945 to 1955, and to American pianist Charlotte Lois Zelka in 1957. Zelka was born in California in 1930, toured Europe for two decades, and died of lung cancer in 2001.
In 1923 Anders obtained a PhD in philosophy; Edmund Husserl was his dissertation advisor. Anders' sister Hilde Stern was at one time married to the German philosopher Rudolf Schottlaender, who was also a student of Husserl. However Anders' own father was arguably the most significant intellectual influence in his life.
While he was working as a journalist in Berlin, an editor did not want so many Jewish-sounding bylines in his paper, so Stern chose the name "Anders" (meaning other or different). He used that nom-de-plume for the rest of his life.
In the late 1920s Anders studied with the philosopher Martin Heidegger in Freiburg. He married fellow Heidegger student Hannah Arendt, who had engaged in an affair with their common mentor. Anders fled Nazi Germany in 1933, first to France (where he and Arendt divorced amicably in 1937), and later to the United States.
Anders returned to Europe in 1950 with his second wife Elisabeth Freundlich –2001), whom he had met in New York, to live in her native Vienna. There Anders wrote his main philosophical work, whose title translates as The Obsolescence of Humankind (1956), became a leading figure in the anti-nuclear movement, and published numerous essays and expanded versions of his diaries, including one of a trip to Breslau and Auschwitz with his wife. Anders' papers are held by the University of Vienna, and his literary executor is former FORVM editor Gerhard Oberschlick.(1906
Anders was an atheist.
Günther Anders was an early critic of the role of technology in modern life and in this context was a trenchant critic of the role of television. His essay "The Phantom World of TV," written in the late 1950s, was published in an edition of Bernard Rosenberg and David Manning White's influential anthology Mass Culture as "The Phantom World of Television." In it he details how the televisual experience substitutes images for experience, leading people to eschew first-hand experiences in the world and instead become "voyeurs," His dominant metaphor in this essay centers on how television interposes itself between family members "at the dinner table." See "Die Welt als Phantom und Matrize. Philosophische Betrachtungen über Rundfunk und Fernsehen" (The World as Phantom and Matrix. Philosophical Observations on Radio and Television) (1956).
His major work, of which only a few essays have been translated into English,is acknowledged to be Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen (literally "The Outdatedness of the Human Species," 1956; vol. 2 1980). It argues that a gap has developed between humanity's technologically enhanced capacity to create and destroy, and our ability to imagine that destruction. Anders devoted a great deal of attention to the nuclear threat, making him an early critic of this technology as well.
The two volume work is made up of a string of philosophical essays that start with an observation often found in Anders' diary entries dating back to his exile in the U.S. in the 1940s.
To provide an example from the first chapter of volume one: "First Encounter with Promethean Shame – Today's Prometheus asks: 'Who am I anyway?'"; 11 March 1942. "Shame about the 'embarrassingly' high quality of manufactured goods." What are we embarrassed about? Anders' answer to this question is simply "that we were born and not manufactured."
Just as Arendt in her Eichmann in Jerusalem elucidated the Banality of Evil by declaring that horrendous crimes can be committed by quite ordinary people, Anders explores the moral and ethical ramifications of the facts brought to light in the 1960-61 trial of Adolf Eichmann in We Sons of Eichmann: Open Letter to Klaus Eichmann (the son of the noted Nazi bureaucrat and genocidaire). He suggests that the appellation "Eichmann" properly designates any person who actively participated in, ignored or failed to learn about, or even knew about but took no action against the Nazis' mass murder campaigns against Jews and others. He explained to his audience in Austria and Germany, among them young writers searching for ways to empathize with their parents' generation, that "there was but one viable alternative not only for Eichmann's son Klaus but all 'Eichmann sons,' namely to repudiate their fathers since mourning them was not an option."
Foreword. "Outdatedness of Human Beings 1", 5th edition
"The three main theses: that we are no match for the perfection of our products; that we produce more than we can visualize and take responsibility for; and that we believe, that, what we can do, are allowed to do, no: should do, no: must do – these three basic theses, in light of the environmental threats emerging over the last quarter century, have become more prevailing and urgent than they were then."
Changing the world
"It does not suffice to change the world. We do that anyway. And to a large extent that happens even without our involvement. In addition we have to interpret this change. Precisely in order to change it. So that the world does not change without us. And ultimately into a world without us."
Introduction. "Outdatedness of Human Beings 2"
This volume is "...a philosophical anthropology in the age of technocracy". With "technocracy" I do not mean the rule of technocrats (as if they were a group of specialists, who dominate today's politics), but the fact, that the world, in which we live and which determines us, is a technological one – which extends so far, that we are not allowed to say, that in our historical situation there is among other things technology, rather do we have to say: within the world's status called "technology" history happens, in other words technology has become the subject of history, in which we are only "co-historical".
Dedication. "Outdatedness of Human Beings 1", 5th edition
Exactly half a century ago, in nineteen hundred and six, my father William Stern published, then twenty years younger and generations more confident than his son today, the first volume of his work "Person and Thing." His hope, to rehabilitate the "Person" through his struggle against an impersonal Psychology, he only unwillingly would have seen dashed. His very own kindness and the optimism of the times, to which he belonged, prevented him for many years, to understand that what makes a "Person" a "Thing", is not its scientific treatment; but the actual treatment of one human being by another. When overnight he was dishonored and chased away by the spurners of humanity, he was not spared the grief that comes from a better understanding into a world worse off.
In memory of him, who indelibly implanted the idea of human dignity in his son, these mournful pages on the devastation of human beings were written.
Love Yesterday. Notes on the History of Feelings. 1986.
Without knights no chivalry, without court no courtliness, without salon no charm, without material support no deference will last indefinitely, not even as make-believe. In the same manner what shrinks in a world that cheats us out of leisure and other preconditions of our privacy, are the subtleties of our emotional private lives.
Jewish Origins. In: Paul van Dijk, Anthropology in the Age of Technology.
"His Jewish self-consciousness reveals itself in the acknowledgment that he is never more ashamed than when meeting a Jew who is ashamed to be a Jew. The Judaism that Anders represents with the fierceness and decisiveness that is so characteristic of him is, however, a modern, secular, and humanistic Judaism."
Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher and a seminal thinker in the Continental tradition of philosophy. He is best known for contributions to phenomenology, hermeneutics, and existentialism.
Phenomenology is the philosophical study of the structures of experience and consciousness. As a philosophical movement it was founded in the early years of the 20th century by Edmund Husserl and was later expanded upon by a circle of his followers at the universities of Göttingen and Munich in Germany. It then spread to France, the United States, and elsewhere, often in contexts far removed from Husserl's early work.
Johanna "Hannah" Cohn Arendt, also known as Hannah Arendt Bluecher, was a German-American philosopher and political theorist. Her many books and articles on topics ranging from totalitarianism to epistemology have had a lasting influence on political theory. Arendt is widely considered one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth century.
Continental philosophy is a set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical traditions from mainland Europe. This sense of the term originated among English-speaking philosophers in the second half of the 20th century, who used it to refer to a range of thinkers and traditions outside the analytic movement. Continental philosophy includes German idealism, phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, French feminism, psychoanalytic theory, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and related branches of Western Marxism.
Heinrich Friedrich Ernst Blücher was a German poet and philosopher. He was the second husband of Hannah Arendt who he had first met in Paris in 1936. During his life in America, Blücher traveled in popular academic circles and appears prominently in the lives of various New York intellectuals.
Existential phenomenology encompasses a wide range of thinkers who take up the view that philosophy must begin from experience like phenomenology, but argues for the inability of philosophers to themselves exit existence in order to view the human condition universally.
Hans D. Sluga is a German academic. Since 1970, Sluga has been a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. He previously served as a lecturer in philosophy at University College London. He teaches and writes on topics in analytic philosophy as well as on political philosophy and has been particularly influenced by the thought of Gottlob Frege, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Michel Foucault.
Richard Wolin is an American intellectual historian who writes on 20th Century European philosophy, particularly German philosopher Martin Heidegger and the group of thinkers known collectively as the Frankfurt School.
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil is a 1963 book by political theorist Hannah Arendt. Arendt, a Jew who fled Germany during Adolf Hitler's rise to power, reported on Adolf Eichmann's trial for The New Yorker. A revised and enlarged edition was published in 1964.
Philosophical anthropology, sometimes called anthropological philosophy, is a discipline dealing with questions of metaphysics and phenomenology of the human person, and interpersonal relationships.
The philosophy of technology is a sub-field of philosophy that studies the nature of technology and its social effects.
Philosopher Martin Heidegger joined the Nazi Party (NSDAP) on May 1, 1933, ten days after being elected Rector of the University of Freiburg. A year later, in April 1934, he resigned the Rectorship and stopped taking part in Nazi Party meetings, but remained a member of the Nazi Party until its dismantling at the end of World War II. The denazification hearings immediately after World War II led to Heidegger's dismissal from Freiburg, banning him from teaching. In 1949, after several years of investigation, the French military finally classified Heidegger as a Mitläufer or "fellow traveller." The teaching ban was lifted in 1951, and Heidegger was granted emeritus status in 1953; however, he was never allowed to resume his philosophy chairmanship.
Mario Kopić is a Croatian philosopher, author and translator. His main areas of interest include: History of Ideas, Philosophy of Art, Philosophy of Culture, Phenomenology and Philosophy of Religion.
The Outdatedness of Human Beings is a two-volume work by philosopher and journalist Günther Anders. It was first published by C.H. Beck in Munich in 1956. The work has seen several editions in German but has not been translated into English.
The Modern Project is a general name for the political and philosophical movement that gave rise to modernity, broadly understood. This endeavor was begun by certain figures in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance to uproot Western culture from its traditional moorings in the givenness of the world and assert the individual human being or human mind as the origin of all things. Characteristic ideas of the modern project include individualism, liberalism, marxism, mechanism, rationalism, scientism, secularism, and subjectivism.
The Sigmund Freud Prize or Sigmund Freud Prize for Scientific Prose is a German literary award named after Sigmund Freud and awarded by the Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung. It was first awarded in 1964.
Hannah Arendt is a 2012 German-Luxembourgish-French biographical drama film directed by Margarethe von Trotta and starring Barbara Sukowa. The film centers on the life of German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt. It is distributed by Zeitgeist Films in the United States, where it opened theatrically on 29 May 2013.
Peter Trawny is a German philosopher and professor at the University of Wuppertal.
Hegel's Ontology and the Theory of Historicity is a 1932 book about the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and his theory of historicity by the philosopher Herbert Marcuse. It is influenced by the philosopher Martin Heidegger.