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On the obsolescence of human beings in sustainable development

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In 1956, the Jewish-German philosopher G√ľnther Anders developed a philosophical anthropology on the technological and moral challenges of his time. Anders suggested the societal changes that arose with the industrial age opened a gap between the capability of individuals to produce machines and their ability to imagine and deal with the consequences caused by this capability. He argues that a ‘Promethean gap’ manifests in academic and scientific thinking and leads to an extensive trivialization of societal issues. In the face of climate change, Anders’ philosophical anthropology contributes substantially to our attempts to fight climate change with innovation. Anders' description of ‘apocalyptic blindness’ helps us to explain why we cannot help pairing our belief in historical progress and growth with our ideas on social and environmental justice. With that said, this paper contributes to the debate on humanity ‘after sustainability’ by calling to mind Anders’ historical theory on the outdatedness of humankind and his thoughts on our lack of imagination.
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Keywords: Sustainability; apocalyptic blindness; development; ethical consumption; promethean shame; technology

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January, 2017

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  • Global Discourse is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented journal of applied contemporary thought operating at the intersection of politics, international relations, sociology and social policy. The Journal's scope is broad, encouraging interrogation of current affairs with regard to core questions of distributive justice, wellbeing, cultural diversity, autonomy, sovereignty, security and recognition. All issues are themed and aimed at addressing pressing issues as they emerge. Rejecting the notion that publication is the final stage in the research process, Global Discourse seeks to foster discussion and debate between often artificially isolated disciplines and paradigms, with responses to articles encouraged and conversations continued across issues.

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    All research articles in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and double-blind peer review. All submissions must be in response to a specific call for papers.

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