Technology and responsibility: reflections on the new tasks of ethics.--Jewish and Christian elements in philosophy: their share in the emergence of the modern mind.--Seventeenth century and after: the meaning of the scientific and technological revolution.--Socio-economic knowledge and ignorance of goals.--Philosophical reflections on experimenting with human subjects.--Against the stream: comments on the definition and redefinition of death.--Biological engineering--a preview--Contemporary problems in ethics from a Jewish perspective.--Biological foundations of individuality.--Spinoza and the theory of organism.--Sight and thought: a review of "visual thinking."--Change and (...) permanence: on the possibility of understanding history.--The gnostic syndrome: typology of its thought, imagination, and mood.--The hymn of the pearl: case study of a symbol, and the claims for a Jewish origin of gnosticism.--Myth and mysticism: a study of objectification and interiorization in religious thought.--Origen's metaphysics of free will, fall, and salvation: a "divine comedy" of the universe.--The soul in gnosticism and Plotinus.--The abyss of the will: philosophical meditations on the seventh chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Spinoza and the Theory of Organism HANS JONAS I CARTESIANDUALISMlanded speculation on the nature of life in an impasse: intelligible as, on principles of mechanics, the correlation of structure and function became within the res extensa, that of structure-plus-function with feeling or experience (modes of the res cogitans) was lost in the bifurcation, and thereby the fact of life itself became unintelligible at the same time that the explanation (...) of its bodily performance seemed to be assured. The impasse became manifest in Occasionalism : its tour de force of an extraneous, divine "synchronization" of the outer and the inner world (the latter denied to animals) not only suffered from its extreme artificiality, the common failing of such ad hoc constructions, but even at so high a cost failed to accomplish its theoretical purpose by its own terms. For the animal machine, like any machine, raises beyond the question of the "how" that of the "what for" of its functioning---of the purpose for which it had thus been constructed by its maker.1 Its performance, however devoid of immanent teleology, must serve an end, and that end must be someone's end. This end may (directly) be itself, as indeed Descartes had implied when declaring self-preservation to be the effect of the functioning of the organic automaton. In that case the existence as such of the machine would be its end--either terminally, or in turn to benefit something else. In the former case, the machine would have to be more than a machine, for a mere machine cannot enioy its existence. But since, by the rigorous conception of the res extensa, it cannot be more than a machine, its function and/or existence must serve something other than itself. Automata in Descartes ' time were mainly for entertainment (rather than work). But the raison d'etre of the living kingdom could not well be seen in God's indulging his mechanical abilities or in the amusement of celestial spectators--especially since mere complexity of arrangement does not create new quality and thus add something to the unrelieved sameness of the simple substratum that might enrich the spectrum of being. For quality, beyond the primitive determinations of the extended per se, is the subjective creature of sensation, the confused representation of quantity in a mind; and thus organisms cannot harbor it because as mere machines they lack mentality, and pure spirits cannot because they lack sensuality, or the privilege of confusion and thereby of illusion with its possible enjoyment. And as to their intellectual enjoyment, even that, deprived of the thrill of discovery by the same token, would pale in the contemplation of what to sufficiently large The concept of "machine," adopted for its strict confinementto efficientcause, is still a finalisticconcept,even thoughthe final cause is no longer internal to the entity, as a mode of its own operation,but external to it as antecedent design.  44 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY intellects is nothing but the ever-repeated exemplification of the same few, elementary (and ultimately trivial) truths. There remained, then, the time-honored--Stoic as well as Christian--idea that plants and animals are for the benefit of Man. Indeed, since the existence of a living world is the necessary condition for the existence of any of its members, the self-justifying nature of at least one such member (= species) would justify the existence of the whole. In Stoicism, Man provided this end by his possession of reason, which makes him the culmination of a terrestrial scale of being that is also self-justifying throughout all its grades (the end as the best of many that are good in degrees) ; in Christianity, by his possession of an immortal soul, which makes him the sole imago Dei in creation (the end as the sole issue at stake) ; and Cartesian dualism radicalized this latter position by making man even the sole possessor of inwardness or "soul" of any kind, thus the only one of whom "end" can meaningfully be predicated as he alone can entertain ends. All other life then, the product of physical necessity, can be considered his means. However, this traditional idea, in its anthropocentric vanity never a... (shrink)
Ce livre important reprend les concepts clés de l'éthique, de l'éducation, de la politique et de l'histoire. Il discute pied à pied les idéaux du progrès et les utopies et fait toute sa place aux limites de tolérance de la nature, à la souffrance, à la peur et à l'espérance responsable. L'accueil réservé à cette grande oeuvre - des philosophes aux décideurs politiques et des pédagogues aux scientifiques - témoigne de l'urgence d'une telle réflexion.
A classic of phenomenology and existentialism and arguably Jonas's greatest work, The Phenomenon of Life sets forth a systematic and comprehensive philosophy -- an existential interpretation of biological facts laid out in support of Jonas ...
Taking a cue from Philo we may ask: If the adoption of the "seeing" approach from Greek philosophy was a misfortune for theology, does the repudiation or overcoming of that approach in a contemporary philosophy provide a conceptual means for theology to reform itself, to become more adequate to its task? Can it thus lead to a new alliance between theology and philosophy after, e.g., the medieval one with Aristotelianism has broken down? The question assumes that some use of philosophy, (...) i.e., of the elucidation of the nature of reality by secular thought, and of the nature of thinking about reality in secular thought, is desirable and even necessary for theology. This assumption must be granted, since theology, as the logos about things divine, is by definition the discursive, in some sense scientific, elucidation of the contents of faith and thus, for one thing, comes under the rules and norms of elucidation and discourse as such; and since the contents of faith comprise the dealings of God with the world and with man, the elucidation of the mundane and human side of this polarity must be informed by a knowledge of what world and man are, and philosophy is supposed to provide such knowledge. It would then follow that that philosophy is most adequate to theology which is most adequate to being, i.e., which is most nearly true—by the criteria of philosophy itself, i.e., by the criteria of secular reason. But since for a decision on this the theologians cannot wait for the consensus of philosophers, nor even necessarily trust its authority, they may be guided in their choice by the appeal of affinity, the lessons of past experience with philosophical liaisons, the present needs of their discipline, and by appraising which philosophy is most helpful to the discharge of theology's task, or least dangerous to its own trust, to its own genuineness, least seductive, least alienating—by any or all of these considerations, but as little as possible by fashion. On all these counts the theologian would do well to exercise a great deal of caution and mistrust. Especially in the face of tempting similarity: what theology needs in this relationship is the otherness of philosophy, not its similarity. On this I need not elaborate before a theological audience. However, the experiment of relationship itself is inescapable, and the one choice closed is abstention. Thus, the openness to contemporary thought shown by theology in the present experiment—as it was shown at all times—is to be welcomed. (shrink)
O texto apresentado a seguir é uma traduçáo da conferência intitulada “The Burden and Blessing of Mortality” ( The Hastings Center Report , 22, n. 1, jan-fev. 1992, p. 34-40), que foi apresentada à Fundaçáo do Palácio Real [The Royal Palace Foundation], em Amsterdam, no dia 19 de março de 1991. Esta conferência foi traduzida para o alemáo por Reinhard Löw e revisada pelo próprio Jonas, aparecendo com o título “Last und Segen der Sterblichkeit” em Scheidewege 21, 1991/92, p. 26-40, (...) e mais tarde em um livro do próprio Jonas: Philosophische Untersuchungen und metaphysische Vermutungen [Investigações Filosóficas e Suposições Metafísicas] . Frankfurt am Main: Insel Verlag, 1992, p. 81-100. Por sua vez, o texto original, em inglês, veio ainda a fazer parte de uma coletânea de ensaios de Jonas, editada por Lawrence Vogel ( Mortality and Morality : a search for good after Auschwits. Ed. Lawrence Vogel. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1996, p. 87-97). (shrink)