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Although Günther Anders (1902-1992) is considered one of the most important philosophers of technology and although he spent many years exiled in the US, he received scant attention within the English-speaking world itself. Christopher John Müller’s comprehensive and sophisticated presentation and his nuanced translation of Anders’ crucial writing “On Promethean Shame” should hopefully change this. It demonstrates vividly the significance of Anders as a shrewd and original thinker who was able to anticipate a number of recent societal and technological developments. Müller’s book is crucial reading for anyone wishing to gain a better understanding of the workings of our technology-driven world.
Günther Anders’s prolific philosophy of technology is undergoing a major revival. Prometheanism mobilises Anders’s pragmatic thought and current trends in critical theory to rethink the constellations of power that are configuring themselves around our increasingly “smart” machines.
The book offers a comprehensive introduction to Anders’s philosophy of technology with an annotated translation of his visionary essay ‘On Promethean Shame’, part of The Obsolescence of Human Beings 1 published in 1956. The essay analyses feelings of curtailment, obsolescence and solitude that become manifest whilst we interact with machines. When technological solutions begin to make humans look embarrassingly limited and flawed, new emotional vulnerabilities are exposed. These need to be thought, because our wavering confidence leaves us unprotected in an ever more (un)transparent, connected yet fractured world.
Christopher John Müller is an Honorary Research Associate of the School of English, Communication and Philosophy at Cardiff University and an Associate Teacher at the University of Bristol. His publications include Desert Ethics: Technology and the Question of Evil in Günther Anders and Jacques Derrida and Style and Arrogance: The Ethics of Heidegger’s Style, Style in Theory: Between Literature and Philosophy. His work draws on Literature, Philosophy and Critical Theory to address the manner in which technological and linguistic structures shape human perception, agency and interaction.