, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 153–170 | Cite as

The Narratology of Lay Ethics

  • Jean-Pierre DupuyEmail author
Original Paper


The five narratives identified by the DEEPEN-project are interpreted in terms of the ancient story of desire, evil, and the sacred, and the modern narratives of alienation and exploitation. The first three narratives of lay ethics do not take stock of what has radically changed in the modern world under the triple and joint evolution of science, religion, and philosophy. The modern narratives, in turn, are in serious need of a post-modern deconstruction. Both critiques express the limits of humanism. They do not imply, however, that these narratives should not be taken seriously. In particular, the enduring presence of three ancient narratives in laypeople’s symbolic thought is highly significant in terms of the role that the logic of the sacred keeps playing in the workings of modern societies. Lay people’s implicit understanding of how modern technology tends towards catastrophe and apocalypse provides the strongest argument for taking these narratives seriously.


Lay ethics Narrative Nanotechnology Catastrophism Violence and the Sacred 



I am deeply grateful to Alfred Nordmann who accepted to shorten significantly a previous version of my text for the sake of this publication, and who managed to do so while preserving the full meaning of my analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy and Literature GroupStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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