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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 24, Issue 4, 2014

Technics, Meditation, Atmospheres, The Main Areas of Gernot Böhme's Philosophy

Gernot Böhme
Pages 11-20

What Kind of Society Do We Want to Live in?

The author asks about the conceptual tools which would enable a critique of contemporary capitalism without falling back to Utopianism and its historically-discredited theses. With the help of paired categories like community–society, human dignity–self-awareness, need–desire, Gernot Böhme portrays the deficiencies of contemporary Western social reality, e.g. the steadily exhausting reserves of the highly-bureaucratised welfare state system, the rapidly mounting differences in income, or the negative moral and psychological effects of unemployment and the so-called precariat. Böhme presents his critique of “aesthetic capitalism,” which does not satisfy human needs in the Marxist sense but rather the aesthetically-refined consumer desires of today’s affluent societies, in reference to the views of contemporary critical theory authorities (A. Honneth's con-cept of three sources of recognition).