• DERIVING "OUGHT FROM "IS": HANS JONAS AND THE REVIVAL OF A TELEOLOGICAL ETHICAL THEORY

      Gordon, Lewis R. (Lewis Ricardo), 1962-; Gordon, Jane Anna, 1976-; Margolis, Joseph, 1924-; Schwartz, Joseph M., 1954- (Temple University. Libraries, 2010)
      Hans Jonas ranks among a small but expanding group of recent ethicists who have argued that a robust ethical theory must account for human ontological considerations. He is among those who make claims that such considerations issue from biological foundations. In The Phenomenon of Life, he reclaims elements of the Aristotelian biological ontology of the soul while adjusting this ontology to the theory of evolution. The first problem with Aristotelian biological ontology, one suffering from essentialism, is the confrontation with the biological flux of species, presented in the Darwinian theory of natural selection. The dissertation explains that Jonas was correct in his return to Aristotle, insofar as there are elements of human beings that are natural and universal. The task is to follow Jonas by constructing a robust philosophical anthropology. Jonas's philosophical anthropology understands human beings as nature's most magnificent and advanced examples of what he calls "needful freedom." Jonas's argument includes a refutation of reductive materialism and epiphenomenalism, one that leaves the possibilities of the human soul/consciousness and freedom in at least as good a position as offered by Kant. His argument is also an attempt to rescue ontology, human nature, and ethics from the relativism of Heideggerian thought. He does this by replacing Heidegger's concept of "thrown projection" with an idea of "projection" based on biological ontology. With this ontological foundation in place, Jonas's "ethics of the future" sees human beings as the caretakers not only of themselves but of the totality of nature and not simply for anthropocentric reasons. Jonas's philosophical anthropology was incomplete insofar as it lacked an accounting of sexual reproduction, a key element for Jonas's ethical theory where political responsibility is modeled after parenthood. After offering a critique of Jonas's incomplete philosophical anthropology and the gap it leaves for his ethical theory, this dissertation shows that the value of his contribution remains intact.