FAZ CO-EDITOR IS DEAD: Frank Schirrmacher Set The Central Issues Of Our Time [1]

[ Thu. Jun. 12. 2014 ]


[Rough translation:]
What is happening today in the Internet or in the biotech laboratories, raises pressing legal and moral questions. Frank Schirrmacher had the intellectual antenna and the fire of passionate journalist.

A great cultural journalist has died. The response to the sudden death of the FAZ Co-editor Frank Schirrmacher certainly shows an echo from all social, political spheres, and also far beyond the world of classical arts page. And indicative, in that what culture, what connects the arts, philosophy, the sciences and also economy and politics beyond technical borders. What is the essence of a newspaper: enlightenment.

In every work of art, it is essentially about a self-image of man, even if this explodes and the man may occur only as a shadow and fragment or dissolves in the abstraction.

To describe this analytically, is the task and stimulus of criticism. But the view of the waking columnists looks beyond the individual work and its aesthetic criteria, in the interaction of specific review and more general reflection.

Frank Schirrmacher and the ideal of enlightened people

Here the "expanded concept of culture" comes into play, which was also the passion of Frank Schirrmacher, who was originally a literary critic. Culture shapes the identity of the man who understands himself about his vegetative nature also in thought, action, dreams, hope as cultural beings. But the ideal of enlightened, competent self-reflection as to the overall reflection of the people of the world has been broken for more than a hundred years. "Universal Man", universally educated, as once were Leonardo da Vinci or even Goethe and Humboldt, able to think with the essential knowledge of the natural sciences as well as the world of  humanities , of  philosophy, politics, economics and the arts, is long gone, since the revolutions of technology, physics, modern medicine at the beginning of the 20th century.

One speaks of a division of the world into two cultures, in which there are the humanities and the natural sciences. However, there is also the idea of a "Third Culture". From his office on New York's Central Park, literary agent John Brockman invented the idea of a new "third culture" 20 years ago out of an earlier previously existent, but not really virulent version. And Frank Schirrmacher was one of his seismographic adepts.

Schirrmacher was a representative of a Second Enlightenment

The idea of building a new bridge to close the gap, for example, between biotechnology or nano-physicists on the one hand, and anthropologists, sociologists, lawyers or cultural philosophers, is seductive. In fact, the "third culture" is not about blurring the differences between artificial and artistic intelligence. But rather, it speaks to an extended concept of culture: a broader concept of humanity. This involves mutual knowledge and understanding.

If we not only want to know, but also want to determine how we live in the future, there must be a dialogue between cultures. Because what is happening in the Internet or in the biotech laboratories, goes beyond questions of what is technically feasible to questions that are increasingly legal, moral and social. After the impact, after blessing or curse, there are always cultural questions. It is the project of a second enlightenment, to have the intellectual antennas and the courage of the amateur (in French: the lover) and for cross-border speculation, part of the fire of passionate journalists. Schirrmacher was a candle burning from both sides.