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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
This is a recurrent reversal. Famously, pharmakon means both remedy and poison, don (gift in French) and damage are related as are, etymologically, host, hostile, hospitable.
Hesiod, Theogony and Works and Days.
Illich showed this in his highly influential books with telling titles like Tools for Conviviality, Deschooling Society, Energy and Equity, Medical Nemesis, etc.
This refers to those laypeople, at any rate, that were encountered by DEEPEN researchers.
Initially, Ball’s editorial was titled: “What is life? A silly question.”
Transcript of a radio conversation on National Public Radio (NPR), broadcast by station KQED San Francisco on January 30, 2008.
This is cause for concern. It is not just Alexis de Tocqueville who assures us that it is not difference but undifferentiation that is a major source of human violence and, indeed, the jar from which all disruptive passions like envy, jealousy, resentment, or hatred escape.
Phil Macnaghten, private communication, August 2009.
In Latin languages like French, the final book in the New Testament, attributed to a John of Samos, is called the “Book of the Apocalypse”, which many people take to mean the destruction of the world provoked by God’s wrath. The English Bible was wise enough to prevent this radical misinterpretation by translating the word “apocalypse” into English. The book in question is thus called the “Book of Revelation.”
As we have seen, similar considerations apply to the issue of social justice and the narrative “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”
I have shown elsewhere that the economy, and money in particular, can be analyzed in this light, alongside technology .
In the context of “secondary sacralization” one should say that fate is inscribed in the future by being projected into it—with the future conceived in terms of projected rather than merely occurring time.
Accordingly, I set out to rehabilitate the figure of the “prophet of doom” and his role in the polis by advocating “enlightened doomsaying” .
Anders G (1982) Hiroshima ist überall. C. H. Beck, Munich
Anders G (1991) Die atomare Drohung: Radikale Überlegungen. C. H. Beck, Munich
Arendt H (1958) The human condition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago
Arendt H (1991) On revolution. Penguin Classics, New York
Arthur WB (1988) Competing technologies: an overview. In: Dosi R et al (eds) Technical change and economic theory. Pinter, London
Atlan H (1999) Les Etincelles de hasard. Tome 1: Connaissance spermatique. Seuil, Paris
Ball P (2007) Meanings of ‘life’: synthetic biology provides a welcome antidote to chronic vitalism. Nature 447:1031–1032
Bénichou P (1948) Morales du Grand Siècle. Gallimard, Paris
Bloch E (1986) The principle of hope. MIT, Cambridge
Broderick D (2001) The spike: how our lives are being transformed by rapidly advancing technologies. Forge, New York
Brodie B (1973) War and politics. Macmillan, New York
Cayley D (ed) (2005) The rivers north of the future: the testament of Ivan Illich. House of Anansi, Toronto
Christ R (1969) The narrow act: Borges’ art of allusion. New York University Press, New York
Crisp R, Slote M (eds) (1996) Virtue ethics. Oxford University Press, Oxford
Davies S, Macnaghten P (2010) Narratives of mastery and resistance: lay ethics of nanotechnology. NanoEthics 4:2, doi:10.1007/s11569-010-0096-5
Davies S, Kearnes M, Macnaghten P (2009) All things weird and scary: nanotechnology, theology and cultural resources. Cult Relig Interdiscip J 10(2):201–220
Dupuy J-P (1992) Le sacrifice et l’envie: Le libéralisme aux prises avec la justice sociale. Calmann-Lévy, Paris
Dupuy J-P (2002) Pour un catastrophisme éclairé. Seuil, Paris
Dupuy J-P (2006) Retour de Tchernobyl: Journal d’un homme en colère. Seuil, Paris
Dupuy J-P (2007) Some pitfalls in the philosophical foundations of nanoethics. In: Khushf G (ed) Special issue on the NBIC convergence. J Med Philos 32:237–261
Dupuy J-P (2009) La marque du sacré. Carnets Nord, Paris
Dupuy J-P (2009) On the origins of cognitive science. MIT, Boston
Fan H et al (2007) Modulus density scaling behaviour and framework architecture of nanoporous self-assembled silicas. Nat Mater 6:418–423
Girard R (1965) Deceit, desire, and the novel. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore
Girard R (1977) Violence and the sacred. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore
Girard R (1986) The scapegoat. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore
Girard R (1987) Things hidden since the foundation of the world. Stanford University Press, Stanford
Grimm J, Grimm W (2008) The classical works of the Brothers Grimm. Jerome Paul
Hayek F (1944) The road to Serfdom. Chicago University Press, Chicago
Hayek F (1988) The fatal conceit: the errors of socialism. University of Chicago Press, Chicago
Heidegger M (1966) Nur ein Gott kann uns noch retten. Der Spiegel 23 1976, 213
Heidegger M (1977) Letter on humanism. In: Krell DF (ed) M. Heidegger Basic writings. Harper and Row, New York
Heller A (2006) European master-narratives about freedom. In: Delanty G (ed) Handbook of European social theory. Routledge, London, pp 257–265
Jonas H (1984) The imperative of responsibility: in search of ethics for the technological age. University of Chicago Press, Chicago
Kavka G (1987) Moral paradoxes of nuclear deterrence. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Kelly K (2010) Will spiritual robots replace humanity by 2100? In: Kelly K (ed) What technology wants. Viking, New York
Kubrick S (1964) Dr. Strangelove or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. Columbia Pictures, Los Angeles
Lévi-Strauss C (1969) The raw and the cooked. Harper & Row, New York
Lévi-Strauss C (1973) From honey to ashes. Harper & Row, New York
Lévi-Strauss C (1978) The origin of table manners. Harper & Row, New York
Lévi-Strauss C (1981) The naked man. Jonathan Cape, London
Lewis DK (1981) Finite counterforce. In: Shue H (ed) Nuclear deterrence and moral restraint. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Lumet S (1964) Fail-Safe. Columbia Pictures, Los Angeles
Molière (1998) Dom Juan. Flammarion, Paris
Neiman S (2002) Evil in modern thought. Princeton University Press, Princeton
Rachels J (ed) (1998) Ethical Theory 2, theories about how we should live. Oxford University Press, Oxford
Rawls J (1971) A theory of justice. Harvard University Press, Boston
Schelling T (1960) The strategy of conflict. Harvard University Press, Boston
Schwarz A, Nordmann A (2010) The political economy of technoscience. In: Carrier M, Nordmann A (eds) Science in the context of application. Springer, Berlin
Valéry P (1910) Cahier B. NRF, Paris
Velleman JD (1991) Well-being and time. Pac Philos Q 72:48–77
Velleman JD (2003) Narrative explanation. Philos Rev 112:1–26
von Trier L (1996) Breaking the waves. Zentropa, Hvidovre
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.
About this article
Cite this article
Dupuy, JP. The Narratology of Lay Ethics. Nanoethics 4, 153–170 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11569-010-0097-4
- Lay ethics
- Violence and the Sacred