How can we speak of the history of an emotion? Before one can examine the complex history of fear, one must first consider its boundaries, how it changes in connection with other emotions. Only then can we understand what it could mean to call a period of time “an age of fear.” Is it true that our fears diminish as we gain more control over nature? Or does the decline of external fears only lead to an increase of the internal ones? Perhaps, in place of linear developments, it is better to speak of cultures of fear — times when fear is more cultivated — and times when it is more overlooked. Public discourse in Germany after the Second World War merits further consideration in this regard.
Rüdiger Zill has been on the Einstein Forum’s academic staff since 1997. He has worked for many years as a freelance writer for radio and newspapers. After completing his dissertation in 1994 on the function of models and metaphors in philosophical theories of the emotions, he worked as an assistant in the philosophy department at the Technische Universität in Dresden. He has edited the volumes Gestalten des Mitgefühls (2006) and Ganz Anders? Philosophie zwischen akademischem Jargon und Alltagssprache (2006) and co-edited Hinter den Spiegeln. Zur Philosophie Richard Rortys (2001). He is also the co-editor of the edition suhrkamp series Erbschaft unserer Zeit.