The human zoo and antropotécnica

30 Aug

At a conference held on July 17, 1999, dedicated to Heidegger and Lévinas, at the castle of Elmau in Bavaria, the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk addressed controversial issues such as genetic manipulation and launched the idea of ​​an “anthropotech”, provoking strong reactions in Germany and also in Brazil in the space Mais+ of the Folha de São Paulo daily “The new zoo of the man” was cover featured on October 10, 1999.

The philosopher’s ideas had already been presented in a Swiss city of Basel, but now the reaction was the relationship of humanism with the media, a more mediatic interpretation of humanism, which provoked the reaction of the philosopher Habermas and a columnist of the prestigious magazine German Der Spiegel, where a controversy began with the writer Thomas Assheuer who indicated that Sloterdijk “propagates prenatal selection and optional birth: genetic technique as an applied social critic .. traces of fascist rhetoric” was published in the prestigious journal.

On 9 September of the same year Sloterdijk published in Die Zeit, two open letters one addressed to Assheuer and another to Mohr, who attacked him as well, but stating that the mentor of these attacks was Jürgen Habermas, and even more provocatively entitled his article of “Die Kritische Theorie ist tot”, translating The critical theory is dead. The controversy grew and the articles by Manfred Frank and Ernst Tungendhat published on September 27 in Spiegel, made a dossier of Sloterdijk’s book of Sloterdijk. 

The Rules for the Human Park was already a book, with a cover in the style of Arno Breker, sculptor of the III Reich, grouping icons of Hitler, Nietzsche and the Superman of the comics, the sheep Dolly and Lara Croft, a heroine of virtual games of computer, the controversy was formed. Sloterdijk’s point of departure was not this, I confess it was my reaction at first reading too.

But his starting point this book was, and his presence at the colloquium dedicated to Heidegger and Lévinas prove this, a phrase of the poet Jean-Paul at the beginning of the book: “books are letters addressed to friends, only longer”, a humanism linked to writing.

Also the reference to Cicero’s humanitas, an opposition to the savagery and brutalities that were the spectacles in the human amphitheater, shows, unlike his detractors, the preoccupation with a current pre-fascism (read yesterday’s post), which was drawing and is now a reality in many parts of the world, and we remember that the “national humanism” of the nineteenth century was precisely where the two world wars of the twentieth century were designed.

What led Heidegger to ask in his Letter on Humanism, and Sloterdijk’s book is a response, if a blind manifestation of anthropocentrism led to three conceptions of tragic confrontations of the twentieth century: “Bolshevism, Fascism and Americanism,” in his reply Sloterdijk affirms that Christianity, Marxism and existentialism were the three humanist alternatives that “avoid the ultimate radicality of the question about the human being” (Sloterdijk 1999: 23).

The separation of man from nature, and the animal which in Heidegger’s view is not + and rationality, in Sloterdijk’s image, Heidegger walks among them like an angry angel in his sword of fire (idem, 25), marking the ontological cleavage between the being of biology and man as the clearing of Being, for whom the Self presents itself as a Being that chooses for its guard, in its search for the “pacification” that two world wars have buried, and now they seem to be on the near horizon now.


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