And by a prudent flight and cunning save A life which valour could not, from the grave. A better buckler I can soon regain, But who can get another life again? Archilochus

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Searching with Hope?

Felix Palent, "Review of 'The spirit of hope' by Byung Chul Han"
Summoning the spirit of hope in a time of overlapping wars? When everything is armed verbally and actively to speak out against fear? To exert the spirit of despair would be purely present. - However, anyone who invokes the spirit of hope today is suspected of either having taken something semi-legal or of being a right-wing fool.

It cannot be assumed that the philosopher Byung-Chul Han handles substances in his thinking room; rather, his speaker position has been productively shifted in relation to our collective everyday experience for years. That means: Byung-Chul Han always tries to move forward and set accents of knowledge and change.

With his famous early books "Transparency Society" and "Fatigue Society" he hit the heart of the present and formulated the dark sides of transparency and ubiquity. Han doesn't just "just" analyze the present, but rather aims for change. Reading Byung-Chul Han also means waking yourself up from digital sedateness.

So when this philosopher comes up with a title called “The Spirit of Hope – Against the Society of Fear” that sounds like mindfulness and self-optimization, then it’s quite a shock. – Which, however, disappears at the latest on page 16, when Han very logically differentiates his thinking of hope from optimism:
"In contrast to hope, optimism lacks any negativity . It knows neither doubt nor despair. Sheer positivity is its essence. (...) In contrast to optimism, which lacks nothing, which is not on the move , hope represents a search movement It is an attempt to gain support and direction. In doing so, it also advances into the unknown , into the unexplored , into the not - yet - being , by reaching beyond what has been, beyond what already exists to."
What follows is a convincingly expanded philosophy of hope. Ernst Bloch and Martin Heidegger serve as opponents, Paul Celan, for whom language was the place of hope, and Vàclav Havel are cited, among others, as supports. Byung-Chul Han's hope as a way of life does not come from the new and it is not a consumer element either, his hope is conservative.

He conjures up ideas from Spinoza and Wittgenstein, Simone Weil and Ingeborg Bachmann, Kafka, Goethe and Walther Benjamin - but not to celebrate yesterday, but rather everything for a bright tomorrow: "In the spirit of hope, we see what is to come, even in the past.

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