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Philosophical Biology And Environmentalism

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Chapter Summary

One of the distinguishing features of Hans Jonas is his combination of philosophy, religion, politics, science, and technology in insightful thought and noble action. In the 1940s Jonas began to reflect on the philosophical problems of modern science, especially biology. More profoundly than Maurice Merleau-Ponty, who sought to bring the lived body within the scope of phenomenological reflection, Jonas confronted the failure of phenomenology to incorporate an understanding of the unique being of plants and animals. In the process he increasingly noticed parallels between the inimical cosmos of Gnostic belief and the conception of an indifferent cosmos implicit in modern natural science?an opposition that has contributed to the environmental challenges of the present, from biodiversity reduction to global climate change and aspirations to the biotechnological engineering of a post-humanity. The context of Jonas?s existential biology should nevertheless not be restricted to the Germanic tradition of philosophical biology and anthropology.

Keywords: anthropology; environment; Gnostic text; Hans Jonas; philosophical biology



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