While Jean Starobinski showed that the eighteenth century invented liberty, it also invented catastrophe. Linguistically, the word appears for the first time in its modern, non-theatrical, sense. Scientifically and philosophically, scholars and intellectuals liberated the notion of catastrophe from the purely religious arena. Politically and in the media, the history of catastrophes emerged at a time when people were trying to anticipate disasters. A new sensitivity to catastrophes was produced by new forms of journalism, provoking questions on the limits of voyeurism and the role of the media. Lastly, the arts questioned the legitimacy and different modes of representation of catastrophe, as well as the aptitude of language in the face of indescribable realities. Jean-Pierre Dupuy analyses in the postface to this collection how our own world is dominated by catastrophe. French text.
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