Exploring Spiritual Ecohumanism: Hans Jonas and the concept of utopian responsibility in the light of the ecological crisis

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This paper is a philosophical discussion about the link between utopianism and responsibility. It argues that our
time demands a strong practice of political responsibility in both organizations and society based on what has
been called ‘real utopianism’. It takes as a starting point Hans Jonas’ critique of utopianism. Keeping in mind the
horrors of the Second World War this Jewish thinker disconnected the principle of responsibility from the idea of
utopianism, and connected it to a ‘heuristics of fear’ – we should be careful with ‘wild’ new technologies, but
also with new utopian perspectives. In a second step Jonas’ predecessors and utopian thinkers Martin Buber,
Ernst Bloch and Ernest Callenbach are revisited. They show that a fully conceptualized idea of utopianism
includes at least three dimensions of responsibility: subsistence, justice and spirituality. I then argue that if one
digs deeper into the work of Jonas, it seems that the concept of responsibility in fact implies the courage to
overcome a heuristics of fear. This paper therefore argues that there is no need to radically disjunct responsibility
from utopianism and that the concept of responsibility actually opens a path to ‘real utopianism’. Such a concept
of responsibility can best be supported by a confessionally neutral but nonetheless spiritual eco-humanist
worldview that develops a new attitude towards nature, in which (eco)asceticism, morality and spirituality
become intertwined.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9/2
Pages (from-to)6-31
Number of pages25
JournalLOGEION: Filosofia da informação
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • Environmentalism. Real-Utopianism. Ecohumanism. Spirituality. Responsibility

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