“The immunological paradigm proves incompatible with the process of globalization. Otherness provoking an immune reaction would work against the dissolution of boundaries. The immunologically organized world possesses a particular topology. It is marked by borders, transitions, thresholds, fences, ditches, and walls that prevent universal change and exchange. The general promiscuity that has gripped all spheres of life and the absence of immunologically effective Otherness define [bedingen] each other. Hybridization—which dominates not just current culture-theoretical discourse, but also the feeling of life in general—stands diametrically opposed to immunization. Immunological hyperaesthesis would not allow hybridization to occur in the first place.

The dialectic of negativity is the fundamental trait of immunity. The immunologically Other is the negative that intrudes into the Own [das Eigene] and seeks to negate it. The Own founders on the negativity of the Other when it proves incapable of negation in turn. That is, the immunological self-assertion of the Own proceeds as the negation of negation. The Own asserts itself in—and against—the Other by negating its negativity. Immunological prophylaxis, that is, inoculation, follows the dialectic of negativity. Fragments of the Other are introduced into the Own in order to provoke an immunoreaction. Thereby, negation of negation occurs without the danger of death, because the immune system does not confront the Other itself. A small amount of self-inflicted harm [Gewalt] protects one from a much larger danger, which would prove deadly. Because Otherness is disappearing, we live in a time that is poor in negativity. And so, the neuronal illnesses of the twenty-first century follow a dialectic: not the dialectic of negativity, but that of positivity. They are pathological conditions deriving from an excess of positivity.

Harm does not come from negativity alone, but also from positivity—not just from the Other or the foreign, but also from the Same.”

detail from the book The Burnout Society by Byung-Chul Han 


Judit Lilla Molnár

28.05.2020 - The Harm of the Same

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