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From Historical Adventure to Historical Responsibility ― Focusing on Hans Jonas’ Response to Postmodern Challenge ―

소병철 1

1세종대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

There are two different philosophical responses to the terrible historical tragedies caused by the historical adventures of modernity. The one is so-called postmodern or posthistorical pluralism, and the other is the new orientation of modernity like Hans Jonas’ ecological ethics. In this paper, I will demonstrate that the latter is a more rational response than the former. Philosophical postmodernism and its discourse on posthistoire are the attempts to radicalize western self-criticism over the self-contradictory dynamics of modernity. Therefore, it is, in effect, a new rudder of modernity, putting a brake on its easygoing self-satisfaction. Like this, modernity can keep its own life and health only by making the renewed cycles of normative self-diagnosis and self-healing. And this is an evidence that the picture of modernity is not a monochrome but a polychrome, and a unfinished one which is being drawn by the plural human reasons up to the present. Here postmodern human reason is no less free and dynamic than modern one. For postmodernity is a critical mind originating from modernity itself. Discourse on posthistoire is the most radical part of that criticism of modernity. For the failure of utopian historical philosophy like Marxism is the clearest indication of the ‘dialectic of enlightenment’ which made modern civilized men feel fear for the first time. But this experience provides us an opportunity to turn the postmodern nihility which radical criticism of modernity left behind itself into a horizon of the creative thought experiment. For in the presence of us ‘what we ought to do’ and ‘what we ought not to do’ are still. Just here we come to rediscover Jonas’ affirmation of the new historical responsibility which has been ignored by the postmodernist rhetoric of ‘end of history.’ This affirmation is the effect of prudent hope indebted to postmodern fear. In short, we have learned ‘historical responsibility’ from the failure of ‘historical adventure.’ Only through this transition from ‘adventure’ to ‘responsibility’ postmodernity will come to be judged to be a philosophical heuristic which has succeeded in enlightening modernity.

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