“Quaestio mihi factus sum”. L’immagine dell’essere umano nella filosofia di Hans Jonas

Annuario Filosofico 33:437-461 (2017)
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Abstract

The essay focuses on the role played by the “image of the human being” in the philosophy of Hans Jonas. This expression highlights humanity’s distinctiveness: it is indeed thanks to the image that the human being acquires a unique degree of distance and freedom from the world, which then develops into reflective self-awareness. However, thanks to these features, the human being achieves the unprecedented capacity of stretching to the limit the dialectical dynamic of freedom and necessity, autonomy and dependence, self and world, transcendence and immanence, immutability and change, viz. the very dynamic on which humans after all rely. In other words, human freedom cherishes the thought of disposing of this dynamic basis, regardless of the fact that this would result in self-negation. It is in order to avert this menace that the image’s second attribute has to be put forward – an attribute which is indeed endowed with normative relevance: the human being – states Jonas – lives and performs his “outward conduct after the image of what is man’s”. Thus, apart from distantiating and separating, the image is also capable of connecting. It is thanks to this feature that human freedom recovers its relationship with total reality. Indeed, Jonas’ ethics stems from a bio-anthropological enquiry pivoted on the image-experience, whose core features and ethical relevance I wish to clarify. Besides, I endeavour to highlight the importance of the “image of the human being” in critically assessing risks related to the current use of technology.

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