The 10th International Philosophical Conference and Workshop of Søren Kierkegaard


                Igor Bijuklič (SI)

Dwarf Titans: Günther Anders and the Promethean gap as a new position of man in the technical age

For Günther Anders, one of the more original thinkers of the metamorphosis of the human psyche in the technical age, year 1945 marked the beginning of a new era in which the human condition fundamentally changed. The omnipotence of humanity appears in reverse, not as creation from nothing, but as reduction to nothing. The ability to set in motion processes on earth similar to those that take place on the surface of the sun, that is to say, the ability for humanity to produce its own end, inaugurates the "dwarf titans". With the advent of modern technology for Anders, an unbridgeable gap is created between the various human capacities, most markedly between what we can produce (technically conceive, invent) and, on the other hand, the human capacity for imagination. Human imagination, perception, emotion, language become extremely limited in the face of the almost infinite effects of our technical achievements. Within this modern schizophrenia, this new conditio humana, which Anders calls the "Promethean gap" (Prometheische Geffäle), imagining the ultimate effects of our own doing is no longer so easily attainable. Even more, within the technical division of labour and responsibilities, is no longer our task and concern. The oversized and the unimaginable are inscribed in our technical doing, and so it can easily happen that the most horrifying and terrible things no longer arouse our concern and emotion. How, if at all, is it possible to bridge this gap?

Keywords: Günther Anders, modern technic, titans

Thomas Diesner (GER)

On Technospheres. The Ontological Status of Technology

The question of the ontological status of the technical reflects our relationship to it as in a kaleidoscope. All the more, since, according to Günther Anders, we have no choice to escape the technical. As early as 1956, Anders speaks of our world as a "system of devices" and as such it is categorically different from means. A technosphere is above all a system of pre-decisions.

An instrumental approach to technology thus becomes an illusion: "Technology, the wanted, now wants something." (Sonnemann). Michel Tibon-Cornillot concedes to the technical an ontological status of its own that represents a real intermediary space, a symbiosis of the vital with the apparatus, reaching a peak in virtual reality or cyborgism.

It is thus the technical itself that is shimmering. It forms a space in which desire, fear and enjoyment are expressed as well as the living is constraint or even threatened by its structural power. In his distinction between tool and machine, Hegel already witnessed a change and noted that the activity of the drive is not yet in the tool. Is therefore the ontological dualism of inside and outside, of the artificial and the natural irrevocably abolished? What ontological status must we concede to the technical?

Keywords: technical, ontology, technosphere, fear, Anders, cyborgs

            Jelena Djurić (SRB)

Hope for an existential turn?

Is there still hope for an existential turn, even though Günther Anders' insights are sharpening over time? The mechanistic view of the world, the so-called "scientific materialism", determines modernization, so that prevents alternative structuring of the world. Technological progress and the nihilistic attitude towards the meaning of existence and human values ​​work together; technology, and especially the technology of society, is gaining more and more autonomy, making the human attitude towards values more alienated. Denying the purpose of existence outside the functions in technology of the system, enables technocratic take-over of power and subordination of the world to reduced goals for whose harmful consequences only human can be responsible. Perhaps it is in the sense of responsibility that the hope lies that the reduction of man and the world will be halted before it is too late for healing. This hope would mean the existential turn – the end of the technocratic way of existence based on the exploitation of beings and the increasing annihilation of basic human freedoms and rights.

Keywords: technocracy, nihilism, way of existence, hope, existential turn

                Christian Dries (GER)

Wind Behind the Sail? New Reflections on the Course of Anders Research

Eight years ago I gave an opening lecture at an Anders conference in Vienna entitled "Im Pilgerschritt auf guten Wegen? Erwägungen zum Stand der Anders Forschung" (which can be roughly translated as „In pilgrim's step on good paths? Considerations on the state of Anders research"). The so-called "pilgrim step" is a genuinely German expression for a certain sequence of steps in dancing: one step forward, two steps back. So at that time I considered Anders research to be progressing rather slowly and with certain setbacks. Now I use a maritime metaphor to answer the same question differently: What was Anders research – and where are we now?  

Keywords: Günther Anders, research, progression

                Srećko Horvat (HR)

The burning relevance of Günther Anders

In a world confronted with multiple and simultaneous eschatological threats that are reinforcing each other (climate crisis, nuclear threat, neverending war, pandemics...), the work of the still neglected and underestimated philosopher Günther Anders becomes more relevant than ever. In the last three decades since his death, thanks to the committed work of various researchers and social scientists, things have started to change and the reception of his work, including new insights, publications and translations, has been growing steadily. Today, the best way to commemorate the double anniversary of Günther Anders (1902-1992) lies both in diving into the various potent concepts of his philosophy and in posing the question how would our century, the early 21st century, look from the perspective of the great "prophylactic apocalyptist"? What are the pertinent thoughts and notions of Günther Anders that can help us not only to understand our contemporary age of catastrophies but also to find ways of dealing with it and to do things radically different (anders)?

Keywords: Günther Anders, apocalypse, catastrophy

                Abrahim Khan (CAN)

Kierkegaard's contemporaneity as that existing between the no-yet and no-more

This presentation considers the idea of contemporaneity as reference a how of existing in the face of a future that is not yet and is inclusive of the possibility of a no-more. It consider lines of thought by Anti-Climacus on being contemporaneous with Christ as a way of existing apocalyptically.

Keywords: Kierkegaard, Christ, apocalyptically, existence, future, time

Ciril Klajnšček (SI)

Apocalypse Now or Endless Self-overtakement

It is no secret that we have been in the middle of an apocalypse for some time, which denote the normalization of scientifically-technically and market-economically organized bare life in the post-truth world of fragmentation of community and humanity. To see or not to see it, this is now a question. Our common future depends only on our personal and collective response to it, which is the result of our harmonious thoughts, words, and deeds.

For the author, who has experimented with being for years and tested himself in various modes of co-existence, the current apocalypse is an expression of nihilism and the result of human self-overtakement. These are self-overtaking thoughts, words and deeds of people who have become accustomed to living a bare (from concept and attitude to being liberated) life and are not able (taught) to think calmly and realize their own duality: of body and spirit, nature and culture, mind and heart. This results in the accumulation and abundance of unfinished, mentally unprocessed thoughts, words, deeds, and events.

In the current apocalypse, people are increasingly revolving around themselves and are no longer able to build personal relationships and communities. When an abundance of positivity leads to a loss of confrontation and resistance, however, destiny becomes a reality. Within such a state and functioning of the spirit, society is transformed into a totalitarian system of self-control, self-discipline, self-subordination and self-exploitation, and human subjects into projects.

Hyper-capitalism, which is a system created and maintained by man and a regime of regulating people's behavior, transforms all human existence into a network of business relationships that take away human dignity and replace it with market value. Politics as a subsystem of power no longer has a significant impact on the economic subsystem. Economics is no longer a category of reason, but a religion whose subjects (counter-reality) coordinate themselves through the future. Morality is subject to the general doctrine of efficiency and the theory of maximizing and optimizing the efficiency of economic entities. The independent use of the mind is being replaced by thinking that is increasingly based on unprocessed "material" or "unfinished businesses" and as such lags behind the needs of apocalyptic times and conditions in the formation of which we constantly participate with all our thoughts, words and deeds. Self-overtakement and the accumulation of unfinished businesses, however, is only increasing with the help of our uncritical (un-reflected) attitude towards science and technology.

These are the characteristics of the man-made capitalist system, which reproduces in the processes of self-overtakement (read: the compulsions of repetition), and under the guise of the desire for its own immortality produces a culture of death in which capital acts as manna. The way out of the current apocalypse therefore requires a complete (paradigmatic) transformation of thinking and action, which should begin with the de-economistification of everyday life.

Keywords: hyper-capitalism, self-overtakement (new concept), technology, economics, politics, morality, hyper-communication, dataism, nihilism, digital panopticon, violence of positivity, compulsion of transparency, culture of performance and optimization, death drive, society of survival, self-exploitation, emancipation, existence

            Jasna Koteska (MK)

The Automaton, the Human and the Technological Other (Conceptual Remarks)

The paper addresses several questions regarding the Human, the Automaton, and the Prostheses.

Is the prosthesis a condition for enduring the intensified ideological sadism of the world? What does the Automaton mean? What does the prosthesis of aggression mean? Will be humans replaced by machines and automatons? Is there such a thing as “true” human nature? Is the entire body just a giant prosthesis? What movements will stand against the prosthesization of the world? How to address the notion of the Technological Other?

The paper will address these issues from the historical and present perspectives.

Keywords: robot, robotics, human, humanity, technology, the Other, machines, prosthesization

            Peter Kovačič Peršin (SI)

On the dehumanisation of modern civilisation

            The state of mind and the social crisis of the present age force even rationally sober philosophers into an apocalyptic vision of the future. The (Slovenian psychoanalytic) critique of social deviations is stuck in proclaiming the arrival of the apocalyptic horsemen: the modern plague - the 19 kovids, war, famine and mass death. It therefore does not open up any perspective for the future of humanity, which shows that this method of thinking can no longer adequately respond to the social, moral, mental and spiritual convulsions of present-day humanity. But the state of crisis is no more hopeless today than it has been described in all the apocalyptic visions from the apostle John in the first century after Christ, to the medieval prophets of Nostradamus' horizon, to the modern philosopher Spengler, who analysed in detail the causes and nature of the decline of Western civilisation. In all periods of human history there have been times that have frightened man with the apocalyptic end of history. Epidemics, wars, famines and mass deaths are a constant feature of the historical tide. The ups and downs of civilisations are part of the history of mankind, of which we are perhaps more clearly aware today than in the past, and which should therefore not be seen as catastrophic events but as part of a cosmic process of arising and passing away, which is also reflected in the history of the human species. Only third-rate social scientists like Fukuyama, whose popular book was nothing more than propaganda for the supposed cold-war triumph of the American empire, which turned out to be a fata morgana after only a few decades, can talk about the end of history.      Anders's thesis suggests another line of reflection. It points to the key problem of the present state of mind, the deep ethical crisis of modern man, who is neither able to master his technological capacities with the existing moral and spiritual consciousness, nor is he able to create, on the basis of the present level of ethical-social closure, an appropriate socio-economic order that would allow a stable life for the majority of humanity and thus the possibility of uninterrupted development.

Keywords: psychoanalysis, Anders Günther, ethical crisis, humanity

Thomas Menamparampil (IND)

Technology Calls for a Sense of Responsibility Today

The blessings that the advance of technology has brought to humanity are many. It has made life safe, comfortable, intelligent, with possibility for worldwide relationships: better food and medicines, better houses, better education, better means of travel, better means of communication. But there was a price that was extorted. Human beings were often enslaved.

That is why, people who engage in technological research exploring nature’s hidden potentialities for the benefit of humanity ought to make sure that there are no negative side effects, e.g. damage to the environment, contravention of the natural order of things, and violation of the dignity of the human person. What people in technical research should do for common benefit is to interact with other knowledgeable persons who may confirm their perceptions, or challenge them to new way of thinking, even correct and complete their findings in such a way that their contribution is a service to humanity.

When we look at recent history, we realize that while anger is natural in human beings, ideology can intensify it and technology can give it an edge. Anger can be whipped up in such a way that human sensitivity is killed and people are motivated to be less than human to each other. Technology turns dangerous in their hands. Nuclear warheads can kill millions.

And today with the development of Artificial Intelligence, pioneers in this field ought to make sure that they do not make of human beings slaves to technology rather than allies. Therefore, scientific breakthroughs must lead to deeper thought on the purposefulness of the technology that they seek to develop.

Keywords: technology, blessing of technics, slavery, humanity, service to humanity, danger

            Gašper Pirc (SI)

Negative dialectics, social communication and human suffering

At present, we live in a society crucially characterized by a two-year crisis over COVID-19 and the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, which also points to the consequences of an unfinished transition in the post-binary world of the 20th century and a possible economic crisis in under the aegis of contemporary social pathologies. Such social pathologies establish independent normative focus with their ideological force and at the same time affect the standards of knowledge in society. It is worth asking whether it is the individual's helplessness in times of crisis the result of discourses that establish tendencies of knowledge in society and processes that have more to do with non-transparency of values and lack of responsibility, community sense and recognition of expertise than related to the component of reason? Maybe there is an answer that connects both sides of inquiry.

In the digital age, where conspiracy theories are increasingly involved in knowledge-sharing processes, mistrust towards the experts and “twitter politics” that shuns acknowledged facts are as much a result of political decision and emotions such as fear, shame and anxiety as a conscious denial of knowledge . There is a problem with this understanding: only with the acceptance of moral cognitivism is it possible to rightly conclude a direct connection between reason and normative identity, which, however, requires more detailed elaboration. Just as the reflex of procedural memory is not in itself an expression of ignorance, it is difficult to unify the various expressions of the inability to justify cognition.

Certainly, understanding the connection between the individual and social dimensions of cognitive pathology and social suffering requires extremely complex and at the same time relevant research that calls for empirical confirmation of references. In doing so, one can refer to Benjamin's research on the fate of the rule of law, which is based on inherent law-making and law-preserving violence as a necessary component of the social application of legal acts; according to him, the law is structurally dependent on the use of coercive violence with the help of the administration and the police. Probably even more appropriate is the return to Adorno, who points out in Negative Dialectics that "the need to let suffering speak is a condition of all truth. For suffering is objectivity that weighs upon the subject."

Keywords: social philosophy, negative dialectics, social pathology, law, political philosophy, conspiracy theories, normative jusitification

            Darko Štrajn (SI)

Technology of Reproduction, Mass Culture and Contemporary Forms of Media Representations

Speaking in more or less broadly accepted general sociological terms, mass culture is made possible by a large range of structurally interdependent components such as modes of industrial production, individual freedom, general education, leisure and of course the media. Culture of today is mass culture or, as we may say, there is no culture unaffected by the mass culture. Probably the first author, who introduced this fact in a decisive, definite, clear and condensed manner, was Walter Benjamin, whose essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, has had a serious and lasting impact, but really starting after more than twenty years after it has been first published. If, as Benjamin had written, the very notion of art gets thoroughly changed by the process of mechanical reproduction, then we should presume that the world, being mirrored, expressed, articulated ... in such an art, is somehow transmuted. Some political motives, the most visible among them the intellectual revolt against fascism, clearly belong to historical determinations, which caused Benjamin’s strong criticism of the idea of “the autonomous work of art.” Such a stand could be well understood within the logic of the text itself, which is seeking to define artistic production as a kind of a “material force,” as an agency of the emancipation – not only as a product of a solitary intellectual effort (which an autonomous work of art is usually recognised to be), but also as a consciousness and the Freudian un-conscious creating force. The instrument representing the new structure of reality – the movie camera – functions on the level of a new “science,” which ruins the idea of German classical philosophy of the Subject being born to be autonomous. “The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses” (Benjamin, 1969: p. 237).



Keywords: society, reproduction, emancipation, film, technology perception


            Humberto Ortega-Villaseñor (MX)

Addled by Technology

                  Unbridled individualism and the neoliberalism that has been its biggest booster in the last four decades has propagated the conviction, only recently challenged, that hypertechnology is the pinnacle of humankind’s aspirations and represents its future. This brief talk is a philosophical reflection about what it means to be human today, in an attempt to question the supposed infallibility of the technological project. The reflection draws on the cultural matrices of the original or autochthonous peoples of Mesoamerica, within the framework of the 19th-century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s thinking, which prefigured existentialism, and the technological scenario envisioned by the European philosopher Günther Anders (1902-1992). With these pieces we attempt to cobble together a modest body of ideas to contribute to the debate among thinkers and researchers from a wide range of disciplines (including ethnologists, historians, sociologists and psychologists) about the hypertechnological future of humanity. Our reflection aims to shed light on modern society’s blind, headlong rush into the technological project and the pressing need to recalibrate human existence at more natural scale.

Keywords: neo-liberalism, hypertechnology, decadence, reintegration, natural scale

            Luka Trebežnik (SI)

Günther Anders and Existence in the face of Catastrophe

Günther Anders states that modern man is characterised by apocalypse blindness (Apokalypseblindheit), that is, he is unable to see or perceive impending catastrophes. This diagnosis surprises us at first, because the unpredictability of the future itself is an essential characteristic of an apocalyptic event, but Anders is not talking strictly about the future, but about the blindness that man himself causes because he wants to avoid responsibility for himself and his fate. According to Anders, the apocalypse as such is therefore already present here and now, in laboratories and weapons factories, in a technological way of thinking that avoids its own autonomy and hides itself as a part of the machine. The lecture will compare Anders' warning thought with religious prophetic literature and some other contemporary postmodern apocalyptic discourses to show the exceptionality and topicality of Anders' work.

Keywords: Günther Anders, Language, Apocalypse, Catastrophe, Technology

                Jizhang Yi (CAN)

Ambiguity of Technology with respect to the Truth of Existence

The paper rethinks contemporary man-made disasters through Kierkegaard's conception of truth and subjectivity. In the Postscript, Kierkegaard’s great lament is that people in his day have commonly gotten themselves lost in speculative philosophy and forgotten what it means to be a human being. Accordingly, Kierkegaard identifies truth with subjectivity. Is this still relevant today concerning the threat of technology? In this paper, I discuss Günther Anders’s consideration of today’s catastrophe as the consequence of human activity with respect to Kierkegaard’s truth as subjectivity, arguing that people nowadays value the new technologies so much that have lost our humanity through technology.

Keywords: Kierkegaard, truth, subjectivity, Anders, catastrophe, technology

Dylan Ziegker (CAN)

Virutal Reality as an Existence-Communication

It is easy, especially in light of the recent conflict in Ukraine, to recognize how technological progress has negatively impacted the existence of humanity, even furnishing a bleak outlook regarding the entire elimination of life. Yet, as drastically as technology may alter the objective realities of contemporary life, it makes no qualitative change on the subjective possibilities and demands made of all persons. Each individual may choose to respond to the present historical moment in either hope or despair. This presentation will argue that technological progress, generally speaking, is marked by an ambiguity with regards to the subjective truth of existence. Even the very same piece of technology, virtual reality and graphical simulations, in this case, enable both a threat to the continuation of existence on the one hand, and offer promising and novel means of existence-communication on the other.

Keywords: technology, progress, humanity, communication, existence

            Bojan Žalec (SI)

Resonance as the foundation of the good life and humanity

The author applies the resonance theory of the German sociologist Hartmut Rose. Rosa developed an integral theory of man's relationship to the world, which has different dimensions: vertical, horizontal and diagonal. He also used this theory to develop the theory of the good life. In it, Rosa focuses not on resources that can ensure a good life, but on relationships. The basis of a good life are appropriate relationships. Their foundation is the relationship of resonance, and the opposite of resonance is alienation. If relationships are bad, a good life is not possible despite the goods provided. This is also indicated by the increase in mental problems (depression, burnout) in modern developed societies of material well-being. The author substantiates and illuminates his thesis from other aspects. One is the growing social polarization everywhere in the world and the alienation of people from politics. The next aspect is the meaning of life and existential hope, both based on resonance. Another example is modern technology. It has the potential to dangerously destroy resonant relationships and impoverish communication. Resonance is the fundamental human need and the foundation of human's humanity. A human being is human through resonance.

Keywords: resonance, alienation, Harmut Rosa, meaning of life, existential hope, polarization