Was tun mit unseren Gefühlen? Zur destruktiven Plastizität bei Günther Anders und Catherine Malabou

Bernd Bösel


The article draws a comparison between some motifs in the writings of Günther Anders and Catherine Malabou. It begins with an outline of Malabou’s concept of (neuro)plasticity and its three main aspects and focuses on the importance of the notion of destructiveness as emphasised by the philosopher’s insistence on neurodegenerative maladies and sociopolitical trauma. Her notion of disaffection as a necessary component of plasticity is then paralleled to Anders’ critical engagement with modern technology and its tendency towards the destruction of humanity. His argument that the atom bomb forces us to realize that our ability to produce is so much greater than our abilities to imagine and to feel led him to a short but very dense discussion of what he called the “plasticity of feelings”, a notion that he developed alongside the visionary assertion of a historicity of feelings in general. In somewhat similar fashion to Malabou, Anders wants to sharpen our consciousness of the plasticity of feelings in order to make us feel the necessary amount of fear of our own potential destructiveness – and thus of the very real possibility that our affectivity might come to its own end. Malabou as well as Anders thus propose to take upon us an engagement with what usually is deemed “negative affect”, in order to counter the risk of a complete and final negation of affect.


DOI: https://doi.org/10.6094/behemoth.2018.11.1.977