No Comment, Quotation — December 18, 2007, 7:28 am

Jonas on the Duty to Subsequent Generations


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.)

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In Praise of Idleness


I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

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