Hans Jonas


Born
in Germany
May 10, 1903

Died
February 05, 1993

Genre


Hans Jonas was a German-born philosopher who was, from 1955 to 1976, Alvin Johnson Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York City.
Jonas' writings were very influential in different spheres. For example, The Gnostic Religion, first published in 1958, was for many years the standard work in English on the subject of Gnosticism.
The Imperative of Responsibility (German 1979, English 1984) centers on social and ethical problems created by technology. Jonas insists that human survival depends on our efforts to care for our planet and its future. He formulated a new and distinctive supreme principle of morality: "Act so that the effects of your action are compatible with the permanence of genuine human life".
While
...more

Average rating: 3.98 · 832 ratings · 69 reviews · 46 distinct worksSimilar authors
The Gnostic Religion: The M...

4.19 avg rating — 304 ratings — published 1958 — 16 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
The Phenomenon of Life: Tow...

by
4.26 avg rating — 98 ratings — published 1966 — 5 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
The Imperative of Responsib...

3.82 avg rating — 161 ratings — published 1979 — 22 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
Il concetto di Dio dopo Aus...

by
3.75 avg rating — 123 ratings — published 1984 — 11 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
Philosophical Essays: From ...

4.45 avg rating — 11 ratings — published 1974 — 3 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
Tecnica, medicina ed etica:...

by
3.67 avg rating — 12 ratings — published 1987 — 5 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
Memoirs

by
4.56 avg rating — 9 ratings — published 2005 — 5 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
Organismo e libertà: Verso ...

by
4.33 avg rating — 6 ratings — published 1973 — 5 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
Il diritto di morire

3.78 avg rating — 9 ratings — published 1991 — 2 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
Philosophie. Rückschau und ...

3.80 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 1993
Rate this book
Clear rating
More books by Hans Jonas…
“Blind nature will nearly always select the most probable, but man can let the most improbable become actual.”
Hans Jonas

“Whatever variety evolution brings forth... Every new dimension of world-response...means another modality for God's trying out his hidden essence and discovering himself through the surprises of world-adventure...the heightening pitch and passion of life that go with the twin rise of perception and motility in animals. The ever more sharpened keenness of appetite and fear, pleasure and pain, triumph and anguish, love and even cruelty - their very edge is the deity's gain. Their countless, yet never blunted incidence - hence the necessity of death and new birth - supplies the tempered essence from which the Godhead reconstitutes itself. All this, evolution provides in the mere lavishness of its play and sternness of its spur. Its creatures, by merely fulfilling themselves in pursuit of their lives, vindicate the divine venture. Even their suffering deepens the fullness of the symphony. Thus, this side of good and evil, God cannot lose in the great evolutionary game. ”
Hans Jonas

“In living things, nature springs an ontological surprise in which the world-accident of terrestrial conditions brings to light an entirely new possibility of being: systems of matter that are unities of a manifold, not in virtue of a synthesizing perception whose object they happen to be, nor by the mere concurrence of the forces that bind their parts together, but in virtue of themselves, for the sake of themselves, and continually sustained by themselves. Here wholeness is self-integrating in active performance, and form for once is the cause rather than the result of the material collections in which it successively subsists. Unity here is self-unifying, by means of changing multiplicity. Sameness, while it last, (and it does not last inertially, in the manner of static identity or of on-moving continuity), is perpetual self-renewal through process, borne on the shift of otherness. This active self-integration of life alone gives substance to the term “individual”: it alone yields the ontological concept of an individual as against a merely phenomenological one. The ontological individual, its very existence at any moment, its duration and its identity in duration is, then, essentially its own function, its own concern, its own continuous achievement. In this process of self-sustained being, the relation of the organism to its own concern, its own continuous achievement.
In this process of self-sustained being, the relation of the organism to its material substance is of a double nature: the materials are essential to its specifically, accidental individually; it coincides with their actual collection at the instant, but is not bound to any one collection in the succession of instants, “riding” their change like the crest of a wave and bound only to their form of collection which endures as its own feat. Dependent on their availability as materials, its is independent of their sameness as these; its own, functional identity, passingly incorporating theirs, is of a different order. In a word, the organic form stands in a dialectical relation of needful freedom to matter.”
Hans Jonas, The Phenomenon of Life: Toward a Philosophical Biology