The Legacy of Hans Jonas

Judaism and the Phenomenon of Life

Hans Jonas (1903-1993) was one of the most creative and original Jewish thinkers of the twentieth-century. This volume offers a retrospective of Jonas's life and works by bringing together historians of modern Germany, Judaica scholars, philosophers, bioethicists, and environmentalists to reflect on the meaning of his legacy today. From a historian of religions, who wrote a path-breaking monograph on Gnosticism, Jonas turned to the philosophy of nature, extending his existential philosophy and phenomenological analysis to include all forms of life. Unique among twentieth-century Jewish philosophers, Jonas argued for the possibility of a genuinely symbiotic relationship between humanity and nature, which he believed had been suppressed by modern technology. Jonas spoke against the human domination of nature on the basis of Jewish sources, especially the Bible and Lurianic Kabbalah, and he was among the first to define the ethical challenges that modern technology poses to humanity.

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Biographical Note

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Ph.D. (1978) in Philosophy and Mysticism, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is professor of History, Director of Jewish Studies, and Irving and Miriam Lowe Professor of Modern Judaism at Arizona State University. She has published extensively on Jewish intellecutal history, including Happiness in Premodern Judaism: Virtue, Knowledge, and Well-Being (Hebrew Union College Press, 2003).

Christian Wiese, Ph.D. (1997), is Director of the Centre for German-Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex and taught at Erfurt University, in Montreal and Dublin, as well as at Dartmouth College. He has published extensively on modern Jewish history and thought, including Challenging Colonial Discourse: Jewish Studies and Protestant Theology in Wilhelmine Germany (Brill, 2005).

Table of contents

CONTENTS
Preface Understanding Jonas: An Interdisciplinary Project
Hava Tirosh-Samuelson
Introduction Ethics after Auschwitz: Hans Jonas’s Notion of Responsibility in a Technological Age
Richard Wolin
PART ONE: A GERMAN-JEWISH INTELLECTUAL
Chapter One Hans Jonas’s Position in the History of German Philosophy
Vittorio Hösle
Chapter Two Hans Jonas in Marburg, 1928
Steven M. Wasserstrom
Chapter Three Ressentiment—A Few Motifs in Hans Jonas’s Early Book on Gnosticism
Micha Brumlik
Chapter Four Hans Jonas and Research on Gnosticism from a Contemporary Perspective
Kurt Rudolph
Chapter Five Pauline Theology in the Weimar Republic: Hans Jonas, Karl Barth, and Martin Heidegger
Benjamin Lazier
Chapter Six Despair and Responsibility: Affinities and Differences in the Thought of Hans Jonas and Günther Anders
Konrad Paul Liessmann
Chapter Seven Ernst Bloch’s Prinzip Hoffnung and Hans Jonas’s Prinzip Verantwortung
Michael Löwy
Chapter Eight Zionism, the Holocaust, and Judaism in a Secular World: New Perspectives on Hans Jonas’s Friendship with Gershom Scholem and Hannah Arendt
Christian Wiese
Chapter Nine The Immediacy of Encounter and the Dangers of Dichotomy: Buber, Levinas, and Jonas on Responsibility
Micha H. Werner
Chapter Ten Hans Jonas and Secular Religiosity
Ron Margolin
PART TWO: THE PHENOMENON OF LIFE AND THE THREAT OF EXTINCTION: THEORETICAL BIOLOGY, BIOETHICS, AND ENVIRONMENTAL PHILOSOPHY
Chapter Eleven Hans Jonas and Ernst Mayr: On Organic Life and Human Responsibility
Strachan Donnelley
Chapter Twelve Natural-Law Judaism?: The Genesis of Bioethics in Hans Jonas, Leo Strauss, and Leon Kass
Lawrence Vogel
Chapter Thirteen Cloning and Corporeality
Bernard G. Prusak
Chapter Fourteen Reason and Feeling in Hans Jonas’s Existential Biology, Arne Naess’s Deep Ecology, and Spinoza’s Ethics
Martin D. Yaffe
Chapter Fifteen Caretaker or Citizen: Hans Jonas, Aldo Leopold, and the Development of Jewish Environmental Ethics
Lawrence Troster
Chapter Sixteen Jonas, Whitehead, and the Problem of Power
Sandra B. Lubarsky
Chapter Seventeen “God’s Adventure with the World” and “Sanctity of Life”: Theological Speculations and Ethical Reflections in Jonas’s Philosophy after Auschwitz
Christian Wiese
Chapter Eighteen Infants, Paternalism, and Bioethics: Japan’s Grasp of Jonas’s Insistence on Intergenerational Responsibility
William R. LaFleur
PART THREE: RESPONSES AND REFLECTIONS
Chapter Nineteen Reflections on the Place of Gnosticism and Ethics in the Thought of Hans Jonas
Kalman P. Bland
Chapter Twenty On Making Persons: Philosophy of Nature and Ethics
Frederick Ferré
Chapter Twenty-One Philosophical Biology and Environmentalism
Carl Mitcham
Chapter Twenty-Two More on Jonas and Process Philosophy
Robert Cummings Neville
Hans Jonas: Life and Works
Christian Wiese

Readership

All those interested in Jewish intellectual history, German-Jewish history and culture, environmental thought, process theology and philosophy, post-Holocaust theology, bioethics.

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