The future How will the world end

Apocalypse: "The world will end again"

The goal is to recognize the reality of the apocalypse. We want to establish this dialogue. And to be able to discuss that with the right people now is just great.

"In my opinion, the corona pandemic is an apocalyptic event"

What are the "right people"? Who should be involved in the discourse?

We have the opportunity to break out of the Eurocentric circle. We can specifically bring together a group of people who work on a particular topic from different backgrounds. You can bring colleagues from Asia or Latin America to Germany, to Heidelberg, and bring them into dialogue. We have to find global answers to global questions, and we don't have them here in Germany or Europe.

A dialogue beyond the boundaries of the humanities is important. It would be incredibly exciting to have a virologist as a fellow. Of course they have other things to do now, but that will certainly happen. I would be very interested in how the descriptive natural sciences view these systemic breakdowns. I get relatively few answers because of course they also say: I can only say what is going to happen, but not what should become. But establishing this dialogue would be exciting.

So motivate scientists to say what should be?

Yes, but for that you would have to get out of your own discipline. Current problem: As a serious scientist you cannot simply make predictions about the development of society or develop visions for the future. But something can emerge in this regard in dialogue. Making this possible is the big challenge.

Humanities scholars have a tendency to say: For the past 2,000 years, people have always said that the world is going to end, they are all figments. But the world has come to an end several times and it will come to an end again. We have to take this seriously because it can be observed empirically. Conversely, people who work empirically must see that it is not just pure empiricism and that the imaginaries and experiences of past apocalypses also play a role in future plans.

How do societies deal with the apocalypse?

The really interesting thing about the apocalypse is the post-apocalypse. It's not about saying: This is all bad now. But: what do we do then? Because there is no denying that there are changes, catastrophic changes. But what happens after that?

It is essential that these new designs incorporate what has already happened before. If you look at the corona crisis, the plague is repeatedly invoked in the popular media. These are the worlds of images that have established themselves, and they are important for the new designs of the future.

"The really interesting thing about the apocalypse is the post-apocalypse"

If you look at today's cultural production, it is noticeable that after the apocalypse there is usually something dystopian. I would like to do my part to ensure that we do not live in a dystopia. I want you to reflect on what has gone before and use it to shape the post-apocalypse positively.

Are there examples of societies that have overcome the apocalypse and post-apocalypse?

The apocalypse is usually negative, but the apocalypse is not simply a catastrophe. There is a great longing for apocalypses, which are then, so to speak, the prelude to a better world. This is the Christian tradition: the apocalypse is indeed annihilation, but then the time of peace and eternal life begin.

In this respect I would not speak of the apocalypse being overcome, but the apocalypse itself is basically the overcoming. At least if everything goes well and a better world comes afterwards. However, doom scenarios are currently being conjured up and the subsequent scenarios are predominantly dystopian. People often talk about the crisis as an opportunity, but at the moment there is more of a pessimistic attitude.

This, in turn, can only be overcome by those who reflect. You have to admit: Something has gone down here. And then something new begins, and this new can develop positively utopian or negatively dystopian. Depending on how the individual deals with the experience.

Does that mean that societies do not passively endure an apocalypse, but rather actively shape it?

A system can collapse, but it doesn't have to be apocalyptic. This is only the case when a new world begins and at the same time there is a moment of knowledge that is reflected in the new world. In this respect, the apocalypse is not something that just falls in, it is what we do with it. When a system breaks down, I can either say: All right, it's gone. Or I can say: Wait a minute, something has happened here, we can no longer just go on. It is a moment for radical change.

This can even be heard in the current discussions: even if it is terrible, now is the chance to do everything better. This shows a great longing for the old to finally collapse and something new to become. And that what you did wrong in the old draft can be done better in the new draft.