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4/21: Hans Jonas Lecture

Originally Posted on admin, April 21, 2010

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Santa Fe
Hans Jonas Lecture

Who: Topi Heikkerö, Tutor, St. John’s College, Santa Fe

What: Afternoon Lecture

Title: Hans Jonas on the Meaning of Morality in a Technological World

Where: Junior Common, Peterson Student Center, St. John’s College

When:  Wednesday, April 28, 3:15 p.m.

Details: This lecture is free of charge, open to the public, and followed by a question-and-answer period.

This lecture introduces Hans Jonas’s (1903–1993) thinking on morality in a techno-scientific civilization.  In his Imperative of Responsibility (1979), Jonas observed that technological advances call for a new kind of ethic, since technologically enhanced human actions possess a novel scale of causal reach.  Furthermore, genetic technology may enable humans to transform their own character.  Jonas’s new ethic to address these issues, however, faces fundamental hurdles. The foundation of morality has become weak due to the same techno-scientific development, and in light of scientific rationality, ethics appears an arbitrary and not a truly rational pursuit.  Drawing on his earlier work in The Phenomenon of Life (1966), Jonas attempted to ascertain a non-arbitrary basis for morality in the inherent purposefulness that he found in organic being.

Topi Heikkerö has been on the faculty of St. John’s College, Santa Fe, since 2008. He earned a master’s of theology degree intheological ethics and philosophy of religion from the University of Helsinki in 2000, followed by a master’s of arts degree in theoretical philosophy in 2005 and a doctorate in social ethics in 2009. Academic appointments at the University of Helsinki included researcher in the Center for Social Ethics and university lecturer ethics in the Department of Systematic Theology. He also was a visiting scholar at the Colorado School of Mines.