- Jul 2021
e book does not wholly succeed, but Jonas’s central idea ispowerful and has not been given the attention it deserves. !at ideaarises from one governing insight: Under technocratic modernity,“the altered nature of human action, with the magnitude andnovelty of its works and their impact on man’s global future, raisesmoral issues for which past ethics, geared to the dealings of manwith his fellow-men within narrow horizons of space and time, has
left us unprepared.” Although Heidegger found it necessary, in his attempt to rethink metaphysics, to go back to the insights of the pre-Socratic philosophers, Jonas does not believe that any earlier thinkers hold the key to the ethical challenge posed by technocratic modernity, because no previous society possessed powers that could extend its reach so far in both space and time. A wholly new ethics is required, and is required simply because of the scope of our technologies.
Hans Jonas, a student of Martin Heidegger, argues in The Imperative of Responsibility, that modern technology requires a new ethical framework because no previous societies possessed the technical powers to extend their reach so far in time and space as ours currently do.