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Following Friedrich Nietzsche’s critique of the Christian idea of “loving thy neighbor” and his praise of “love to the furthest and future ones” (Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, 1964, p. 69) and in combination with the technical achievements of the telematic society, Vilém Flusser saw a possibility of making loving one’s neighbor and loving the furthest ones coincide. The concept undergoes a shift from Judeo-Christian humanism to technology- and information-based telematics. The prefix “tele-” stands for bringing what is distant closer and “means the willingness to make ‘neighbors’ of distant people in the sense in which we speak of loving one’s neighbor or altruism” (Lob der Oberächlichkeit, 1993, p. 220; translated from the German). The most distant person becomes my neighbor, and for Flusser, as in Judeo-Christianity, freedom means taking responsibility for one’s neighbor (Bodenlos, 1992, p. 260).

Through radical distance to all natural connections, through homelessness, having no firm ground, and nomadism, and with the aid of new technological possibilities, human beings experience freedom in post-history by choosing their neighbors themselves, and liberating themselves from all nationalism. The concept of altruism turns against “philanthropy, cosmopolitanism, and humanism” (ibid.; translated from the German), since the latter degrade the neighbor and fetishize humanity as a whole. Altruism in the form of caritas [charity] is related to the Eucharist, and in Flusser’s work it is related to the anthropophagy of Oswald de Andrade. Anthropophagy is true altruism. This is revealed symbolically in the ritual of communion. In the telematic society, anthropophagic love of one’s neighbor at whatever distance, and the internalization and worshipping of the other that already takes place in the Eucharist take on a new connotation.

Original article by Dirk-Michael Hennrich in Flusseriana

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altruism.txt · Last modified: 2021/11/05 17:47 by