Marty Center Senior Fellow Symposium by Bettina Bergo on "The Ambiguity of Anxiety"

Marty Center Senior Fellow Symposium by Bettina Bergo on "The Ambiguity of Anxiety"


Bettina Bergo is Professor of Philosophy at the Université de Montréal. 

Her project at the Marty Center, a monograph entitled Anxiety: History of a Concept in 19th and 20th Century Philosophy and Psychology, traces the intellectual history of anxiety, as an idea and a sign. Aimed at an interdisciplinary readership, the book is concerned with a recurrent theme in disciplines that framed the meaning of life, embodiment, subjectivity, and indeed, intersubjectivity. 

Abstract: even the so-called egalitarian and loosely structured societies known to anthropology, including hunters such as Inuit or Australian Aborigines, are in structure and practice subordinate segments of inclusive cosmic polities, ordered and governed by divinities, ancestors, species masters, and other such metapersons endowed with life and death powers over the human population. "The Mbowamb spends is whole life completely under the spell and in the company of spirits" (Vicedom and Tischner). "[Arawete] society is not complete on earth: the living are part of the global social structure founded on the alliance between heaven and earth" (Viveiros de Castro). We need something like a Copernican revolution in anthropological perspective: from human society as the center of a universe onto which it projects its own forms--that is to say, from the Durkheimian or structural-functional deceived wisdom--to the ethnographic realities of people's dependence on the encompassing life-giving and death-dealing powers, themselves of human attributes, which rule earthly order, welfare, and existence. For Hobbes notwithstanding, something like the political state is the condition of humanity in the state of nature; there are kingly beings in heaven even where there are no chiefs on earth.


1 hour, 8 minutes, 51 seconds
August 1, 2016
Published: September 28, 2016