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Continental Philosophy Review

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 65–79 | Cite as

Evolution and the meaning of being: Heidegger, Jonas and Nihilism

  • Lawrence Vogel
Article
  • 393 Downloads

Abstract

Hans Jonas accuses Heidegger of “never bring[ing] his question about Being into correlation with the testimony of our physical and biological evolution.” Neither the early nor later Heidegger has a “philosophy of nature,” Jonas charges, because Naturphilosophie demands a new concept of matter, a monistic account of cosmogony and evolution, and the grounding of ethical responsibility for future generations in an ontological “first principle.” Jonas’s ontological rethinking of Darwinism allows him to overcome the nihilism that a mechanistic interpretation of evolution forces upon us: a nihilism allegedly shared by Heidegger. I imagine a Heideggerian response to Jonas, and ask whether the dream of recovering a synthesis between cosmogony and moral insight has been irrecoverably shattered by modern natural science.

Keywords

Heidegger Hans Jonas Evolution Ontology 

Notes

Acknowledgements

My special thanks to Eric Pommier and audiences he attracted to attend a Jonas symposium at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile in Santiago and a conference commemorating the 20th anniversary of Jonas’s death, “L’Éthique a L’Épreuve de la Technique dans la Pensee de Hans Jonas” at the Sorbonne in Paris. Also, gratitude for the feedback of my colleague, Melvyn Woody.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Connecticut CollegeNew LondonUSA

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