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Religions 2017, 8(4), 59;

Transcendence of the Negative: Günther Anders’ Apocalyptic Phenomenology

Institute for Philosophy, University of Vienna, Vienna 11010, Austria
Academic Editor: Justin Sands
Received: 12 January 2017 / Revised: 22 March 2017 / Accepted: 26 March 2017 / Published: 7 April 2017
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When the apocalyptic is marginalized, not only is theology under threat of malpractice, but phenomenology is also, for at the core of apocalyptic thinking is the attempt to restrain the totalities that are at work implicitly in our social imaginaries. Most totalities are subtle, appearing even in efforts of unification through global peace. One might extract such insight from Günther Anders, who depicts an immanent, apocalyptic reality beyond the pale of bourgeois optimism and the theological imaginaries that enervate it. We have fallen out of imaginative touch with our everyday activities, and this has resulted in an apocalyptic blindness (Apokalypse-Blindheit) and optimism rooted in abstraction. Such blindness has degraded our “conscience” into “conscientiousness” to the point that even the Hiroshima bomber can abstract from his actions and be exempted easily from responsibility. Although a kind of phenomenologist, Anders criticized colleagues who, in the name of “presuppositionlessness” and observation, could abstract their thoughts far from the reality in which they lived and acted. This paper provides a general introduction to Anders’ work and interprets his “Transcendence of the Negative” in order to demonstrate the values of “apocalyptic phenomenology” today. Anders extends a Levinasian eschatology of anticipation (which is precisely of that which one cannot “expect”) and demonstrates how transcendence, which typically is understood only in its positive element, also holds the capacity for turning a blind eye to the negative sociality of action. This transcendence often fuels a false optimism for an order of global peace and oneness, which inherently brings about an apocalyptic age, for it ends at “one” and eliminates any “outside”. Apocalyptic phenomenology can be one way to disrupt this tendency of blind abstraction by attending to “unveiling” (apokalypsis) itself, attuning our “conscience” to the level of concern proportionate to the threats that stand before it, and becoming “restrainers” of what Anders calls “annihilism. View Full-Text
Keywords: Günther Anders; apocalypse; transcendence; phenomenology; theology Günther Anders; apocalypse; transcendence; phenomenology; theology
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Alvis, J.W. Transcendence of the Negative: Günther Anders’ Apocalyptic Phenomenology. Religions 2017, 8, 59.

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