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Da spätere Menschen auf jeden Fall da sein werden, gibt ihnen, wenn es so weit ist, ihr unerbetenes Dasein das Recht, uns Frühere als Urheber ihres Unglücks zu verklagen, wenn wir durch sorgloses und vermeidbares Tun die Welt oder die menschliche Konstitution für sie verdorben haben. Während sie für ihr Dasein nur ihre direkten Erzeuger verantwortlich halten können (und auch da ein Recht zu Klage nur haben, wenn deren Recht zu Nachwuchs aus spezifischen Gründen in Frage gestellt werden kann), können sie für die Bedingungen ihres Daseins entfernte Vorfahren oder allgemeiner die Urheber dieser Bedingungen verantwortlich halten.
Because later humans will in any event be present, their unsought existence gives them the right, when things have deteriorated to that point, to raise a claim against us, their predecessors, as the source of their misfortune, to the extent that we, through thoughtless and avoidable dealings, have spoiled the world or the human constitution for them. While they can hold only those who produced them to account for their existence (and even then they have a right to complain, only when their right to progeny is placed in question for specific reasons), they are entitled to hold to account even distant ancestors or more generally those who have caused the circumstances under which they suffer for the conditions of their existence.
–Hans Jonas, Das Prinzip Verantwortung: Versuch einer Ethik für die technologische Zivilisation, pp. 87-88 (1984)(S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”