In this powerful, illuminating work, Jonas traces the directions of classical western thought in the centuries prior to the birth of Christ, a period in which Greek-centred Hellenism spread throughout the eastern Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern world, working its way into the cultural and belief systems that had preceded it as Greek itself became the language of choice for serious discourse. The intermingling of Greek rationality and philosophy with the rich mythological tapestries of the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Persia—combined with the massive upheavals and destruction that accompanied the setting up of two colossal, antagonistic empires, Roman and Parthian, as masters of the settled world—produced a ferment of new religious and philosophical notions, an intricately creative cauldron in which roiled many of the ideas that provided the base material with which the road towards the modern world has been paved. Jonas aimed for an even mix of the Iranian and Syrian-Egyptian types in the six principal systems he examines, even including a pagan gnostic belief in the Poimandres of Hermes Trismegistus. The most detailed exegesis is performed upon the highest-deemed representatives of the two strands: the Valentinian Speculation for the S-E and Manicheanism for the Iranian. Then, as now, the terror and dread that bears down upon the naked soul when belief in the unity of man with nature—a unity that is grounded in the infinite—is shattered by the ever-anew anxieties of the unsettled and unsettling present, a now in which neither guilt nor hope can dampen the flames of an existence that appears alone and isolated, will cause the afflicted to seek answers inward, away from the cold and unfathomable world. In the gnostic dawn, postulating a divinity beyond all comprehension seemed a rational response to the apparent irrationality of a suddenly menacing and hardscrabble environment.
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In front of the house, two Stolpersteine were installed in Heidegger joined the Nazi Party in , which may have disturbed Jonas, as he was Jewish and an active Zionist. Certainly, in Jonas would repudiate his mentor Heidegger, for his affiliation with the Nazis. There he met Lore Weiner , to whom he became betrothed.
He was sent to Italy , and in the last phase of the war moved into Germany. Thus, he kept his promise that he would return only as a soldier in the victorious army. In this time he wrote several letters to Lore about philosophy, in particular philosophy of biology, that would form the basis of his later publications on the subject. They finally married in Having heard this, he refused to live in Germany again.
In he left for Canada , teaching at Carleton University. From there he moved in to New York City , where he was to live for the rest of his life. For example, The Gnostic Religion, based on his early research on the Gnosis and first published in , was for many years the standard work in English on the subject of Gnosticism. The Imperative of Responsibility German , English centers on social and ethical problems created by technology. Jonas insists that human survival depends on our efforts to care for our planet and its future.
He formulated a new and distinctive supreme moral imperative: "Act so that the effects of your action are compatible with the permanence of genuine human life".
Heavily influenced by Martin Heidegger , The Phenomenon of Life attempts to synthesize the philosophy of matter with the philosophy of mind, producing a rich existential understanding of biology, which ultimately argues for a simultaneously material and moral human nature. He was one of the first philosophers to concern himself with ethical questions in biological science. Hans Jonas and David Herr
The Gnostic Religion
In front of the house, two Stolpersteine were installed in Heidegger joined the Nazi Party in , which may have disturbed Jonas, as he was Jewish and an active Zionist. Certainly, in Jonas would repudiate his mentor Heidegger, for his affiliation with the Nazis. There he met Lore Weiner , to whom he became betrothed. He was sent to Italy , and in the last phase of the war moved into Germany.
The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity