This essay presents some reflections drawn from Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature and Hans Jonas’s philosophical biology, in the belief that precisely the Jonasian and Hegelian conceptions of nature and the living organism have a great common foundational potential, useful for elaborating a theory of collective responsibility for the environment and a fruitful relationship between human beings and nature. After some methodological considerations aimed at explicating the theoretical foundations on which it is considered possible to build a comparison between Hegel and Jonas, particularly with respect to their conception of the living organism, it is shown, in a second step, how Hegel’s and Jonas’s speculative philosophies of nature succeed in demonstrating the presence of spirit in nature, as well as the emergence of freedom and subjectivity in the living organism; finally, it will be shown that, although nature is not simply denied but preserved in and by spirit (in the Hegelian sense of Aufhebung), both Hegel and Jonas recognize the peculiarity of the human being as opposed to other living organisms: a peculiarity which grounds responsibility for actions. Through the comparison of Hegel’s and Jonas’s thought, the same problems with which, albeit at different times and in different philosophical contexts, both philosophers grappled will emerge: Cartesian dualism and the consequent mind-body problem, and the deterministic way of understanding both nature and the human being. To solve these questions, both thinkers elaborate a “philosophy of the organism,” which grounds the ontological continuity between nature and spirit, an aspect that is highly topical with respect to ecological issues and the foundation of human responsibility toward the environment.
Keywords: G.W.F. Hegel, H. Jonas, responsibility, organism, environment.
The essay is available at this link: Battistoni_Ambiente e responsabilità_Jonas_Hegel.