Our societies today are characterized by a universal algophobia: a generalized fear of pain. We strive to avoid all painful conditions - even the pain of love is treated as suspect. This algophobia extends into society: less and less space is given to conflicts and controversies that might prompt painful discussions. It takes hold of politics too: politics becomes a palliative politics that is incapable of implementing radical reforms that might be painful, so all we get is more of the same.
Faced with the coronavirus pandemic, the palliative society is transformed into a society of survival. The virus enters the palliative zone of well-being and turns it into a quarantine zone in which life is increasingly focused on survival. And the more life becomes survival, the greater the fear of death, which has become increasingly visible again. Everywhere, the prolongation of life at any cost is the preeminent value, and we are prepared to sacrifice everything that makes life worth living for the sake of survival.
This trenchant analysis of our contemporary societies by one of the most original cultural critics of our time will be of interest to a wide readership.
Biografie (Byung-Chul Han)
Byung-Chul Han studierte in Freiburg i. Br. und München Philosophie, Deutsche Literatur und Katholische Theologie. Er wurde 1994 promoviert und habilitierte sich 2000. Seither ist er Privatdozent am Philosophischen Seminar der Universität Basel.