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Reflections On The Place Of Gnosticism And Ethics In The Thought Of Hans Jonas

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Chapter Summary

The ligaments linking cosmology and ethical responsibility seem supple and persistent in Hans Jonas?s work. The convergence of ontology, or natural science, with ethics appears to constitute the weight-bearing walls, hub, or stabilizing center of gravity for his various intellectual pursuits. A counter argument, pivoting on the ?always,? indicating an essential Jonas, may lurk in an autobiographical remark describing his philosophical odyssey. In 1974, in the introduction to his Philosophical Essays, Jonas charted three stages in his development and confessed to the post-Holocaust, post-Hiroshima, profoundly existential transition that occurred between stages two and three: his shift from ?theoretical detachment to public responsibility.? In one corner of the ring, described with breathtaking clarity by Benjamin Lazier, stands the violent, dualistic, morally reprehensible, anti-worldly champion, Gnosticism, and its latter-day shadow, Martin Heidegger; in the other corner stands the contender, classically Hellenic, metaphysically saturated, ethically steeped philosophy.

Keywords: ethics; gnosticism; Hans Jonas; Martin Heidegger



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