Global Dread

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Global Dread

The experiences of angst, dread, nausea and despair are commonly associated with the writings of the existentialist philosophers such as Sartre and Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard wrote The Concept of Dread in 1844, but it was published in English in 1944. Kierkegaard’s dread was prompted by the tension created in human affairs by “original sin”, as explained within a religious eschatology. In the twentieth century, the two world wars, the nuclear bomb and reactor and their deadly threats to all life and, now, the simultaneous ecological and climatic crises, are all capable of replacing original sin as a source of profound existential responses. {and, in early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic}

We can therefore now speak of an ecologically induced dread that produces a mixture of terror and sadness in the sufferer who empathises with those who will exist within a future state permeated by the risk of catastrophe. For sufferers of this global dread, the negativity about the present is projected into the future with such force, that there can be no optimism.

Eco-existentialism is an area of philosophical inquiry that investigates a twenty-first century psycho-social space where the present and future are potentially full of angst, dread, nausea and despair as humans fail to live sustainably. At present, from an eco-existential perspective, there are choices between three forms of existence in response to the crises we face. First, there is an inauthentic existence where denial about sustainability is the only way to cope with the anxiety of the future possibility of eco-apocalypse. Second, there is an authentic existence where living an alternative and sustainable lifestyle involves massive hardship and self-denial of freely available but non-sustainably produced technologies. Finally, there is an uncomfortable space in-between where people could become locked into negative existential psychoterratic conditions ranging from anxiety to solastalgia and finally, global dread.

Edited From:

Albrecht, G.A. (2012) Psychoterratic Conditions in a Scientific and Technological World. In, Kahn, P., & Hasbach, P. (eds) Ecopsychology: Science, Totems, and the Technological Species. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, pp. 241-264.

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