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Submitted by Claude Beaunis on 16/03/23 – 11:53
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Hans Jonas and the 'responsibility principle

Jonas proposes a global ethics for a technological civilisation. Unbridled capitalism and neo-liberalism have resulted in the exploitation of the planet's resources, air and water pollution, climate disruption, droughts, desertification, deforestation, melting polar ice, etc., in the absence of any caution and projection into the future of the consequences of this ecological disaster. And at the same time an increase in armed conflicts for the control of territories, an increase in absolute poverty, unemployment and the speculative lack of employability of young people, precariousness and enslavement and caporalisation in conjunction with migratory flows, uselessly opposed by those who seek to save themselves from a globalised and inescapable phenomenon.

The UN 2030 Agenda, on the wave also of fear, a consequence of extreme hydrogeological phenomena, calls for 'sustainability'.

Sustainable development is defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. To achieve sustainable development, it is important to harmonise three fundamental elements: economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection. But even this appeal now seems to be ineffective with respect to the damage of climate change strongly denounced by young people.


Fear and responsibility.

Jonas urges not to allow fear to distract from ACTION, but invites us to feel responsible in advance for the unknown, because this constitutes the courage of responsibility.

He does not mean the fear that deters action but the fear that urges action, fear for 'the object' for which the assumption of responsibility is intended.

This object is vulnerable, which is why it is necessary for us to enter into apprehension, because we project ourselves into the future and represent the catastrophic situation now scientifically predicted and confirmed by meteorological, climatic, geological, economic, migratory, etc. events.





Ethics of the limit

Jonas emphasises how the new duty and responsibility drive towards an ethics of conservation, preservation, prevention and not progress for its own sake.

He indicates an 'ethics of the limit', of the boundary not to be crossed; the need to slow down, seeking more balance, more quality instead of more quantity.

And getting out of the dead end of growth for growth's sake.

This apprehension must give rise to the urge to TAKE CARE and to education to care, so that the possibility of salvation, survival and well-being is assured.




Taking care and educating children to take care of themselves, others and the environment: care in the present, to avoid catastrophe in the future.

The 'New Directions for the Curriculum' also include education for responsibility and education for care.

The ethics of responsibility appear as early as kindergarten.

M. Weber was the first to point out that the ethics of mere intentions or convictions is no longer sufficient to guarantee good social coexistence. We need to move on to the true ethics of responsibility, the ethics of assessing the consequences of our choices and conduct.

In our age, reference to this ethic no longer seems posposable. Parents, anxious to keep their children happy, activate the avoidance of opportunities for frustration, commitment and effort, thus preventing, through overprotection, the assumption of responsibility for the consequences of their actions, which are thus always justified.

Jonas also places the planet and the entire biosphere among the elements to take responsibility for, as far as space is concerned, and then focuses on the problem of the future, as far as time is concerned.

Edgar Morin among 'The seven knowledge necessary for the education of the future', puts earth identity. We must take responsibility for our actions today, the consequences of which will reverberate on the future of the earth and future generations. We must think of a desirable future, in the presence of care, to avoid a probable future, in the absence of care.





"I would like to make it clear, we are not only experiencing the crisis of a left in ruins, the crisis of democracy throughout the world, the crisis of an increasingly bureaucratised state, the crisis of a society dominated by money, the crisis of a humanism overwhelmed by hatred and violence, the crisis of a planet devastated by the omnipotence of profit, the health crisis triggered by epidemics.

We are experiencing, above all, a more insidious, invisible and radical crisis: the crisis of thought."

Edgar Morin, father of the cultural paradigm of 'complexity', when we were still immersed in that of 'linearity' (which obeys the binary logic: either black or white, or right or wrong, typical of Manichaeism) sings the praises of reflective thinking, emphasising how this would be inescapable to guide us in the crises we are experiencing. It would be indispensable if we had learnt to 'conjugate', to weave together different, even opposing logics. Solutions to problems do not arise spontaneously, they cannot be the outcome of a conditioned reflex. We must accept the effort of reflexivity, suspending the frenzy of living that always takes us elsewhere, of carefree superficiality, of the attempt to find easy and painless solutions.


The seven knowledge necessary for the education of the 'FUTURE'.

E.Morin urges us to build a sense of 'belonging to the human race', based on openness and not exclusion. This is an important call, in the light of certain current social drifts, which are characterising the 'dis-educating community', such as widespread indifference.

Let the school be a place where all boys and girls, wherever they come from, can grow and learn feeling 'at home'.


The first knowledge: teaching the knowledge of the knowledge

The school must make its pupils aware that knowledge, in its processes and ways, can encounter ERROR or ILLUSION. Today, with regard to social media, we could say: critical competence useful for recognising fake news and conspiracy theories.

The second knowledge: Teaching relevant knowledge.

It is necessary to promote knowledge that allows one to grasp the mutual relations and influences between the parts and the whole in a complex world, not knowledge that is fragmented into different disciplines and does not allow one to grasp the link between global and fundamental problems and partial and local knowledge. Using culture to read current events, context, mutual relations and mutual influences between the parts and the whole in a complex world.


The third knowledge: Teaching the human condition.

The human being is at once physical, biological, psychic, cultural, social, historical. There is a risk that this complexity is not taken up in teaching disintegrated across disciplines. Everyone should be aware of the complex character of both their own identity and the identity they have in common with all other humans.

The fourth knowledge: Teaching Earth identity.

The now planetary destiny of humankind is another fundamental reality ignored by teaching, with all the climate consequences we are experiencing.

Communications between all continents must be utilised without concealing the oppressions and dominations that have devastated and still devastate mankind causing unstoppable migratory flows.

It is essential to become aware of how all human beings, confronted with the same problems of life and death, live in the same community of destiny.

The fifth knowledge: Teaching how to deal with uncertainties.

The sciences have given us many certainties, but during the 20th century they have also revealed countless fields of uncertainty. Teaching should also include the uncertainties that have appeared in the physical sciences (microphysics, thermodynamics, cosmology, etc.), the sciences of biological evolution and the historical sciences.

Principles of strategy should be taught that make it possible to deal with risks, the unexpected and the uncertain, and to modify their evolution thanks to the information acquired in the course of action.

The sixth knowledge: teaching understanding.

Understanding is both the means and the end of the human communication.

Given the importance of comprehension education, we should learn to put ourselves in the shoes of others, to decentralise, at all educational levels and at all ages, as the National Indications recommend. The development of understanding requires a reform of mentality. Hence the need to study misunderstanding in its roots, modalities and effects, which should focus not on the symptoms but on the roots of racism, xenophobia and all forms of contempt. Education for understanding and 'compassion' is the basis of PEACE education.

The seventh knowledge: Teaching the ethics of humankind.

Ethics must be formed in minds from the consciousness that the human is at the same time: an individual, part of a society, part of a species.

The consciousness of belonging to the human species must be developed, regardless of ethnicity, religion, origin.


Two major ethical-political goals we expect from the present millennium: to establish mutual control between society and individuals through DEMOCRACY and to bring about HUMANITY AS A PLANETARY COMMUNITY.

From earth-patrimony to earth-citizenship.


The ethics of care

The ethic of care concerns both boys and girls, it appears as early as kindergarten and is then taken up throughout the text, as is the ethic of responsibility. The rampant and widespread indifference, especially towards each other and the environment, a disregard for public ethics, must be countered.

Education for care, however, also to initiate a growing sensitivity towards equal opportunities for women and men, since the sometimes unbearable burden of the double presence of work at home and outside the home still weighs on women's shoulders.

Carol Gilligan spoke first about the ethics of care;. From the walls of the home, where care was acted out, C.Gilligan brings care out to elevate it to a universal ethic and make it adoptable by all.(gender equity , AGENDA 2030)


Conference 11 March 2023 CARE OF THE PLANET Cinzia Mion,