Acknowledging Fascination with Catastrophe and Terrorism: September 11 and the Nuclear Destruction of Hiroshima/Nagasaki

Emmanouil Aretoulakis


At the end of the twentieth century there was a critical shift from prioritizing the anti-aesthetic and the “sublime” towards favoring beauty in aesthetic as well as political matters. In this context, the present article discusses the role of beauty and aesthetics in such major disasters as the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Hiroshima/Nagasaki nuclear bombings. More specifically, it posits that there is a morally unacceptable feeling of fascination when witnessing destructive events of such magnitude. On the other hand, aesthetic appreciation is paradoxically indispensable for an ethical assessment of man-made catastrophes.

Keywords: Beauty, Hiroshima, 9/11, Terrorism, Aesthetic Judgment, Imagination, Ethics.

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