By Zygmunt Bauman
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Extra resources for Alone Again (Demos Papers)
And yet we find this resource depleted and squeezed. This is not just the matter of concern for moral philosophers and preachers. However worried they may be, there is every reason for their worry to be widely shared. The dilemma we confront now has been expressed poignantly by the great German/American ethical philosopher, Hans Jonas: ‘The very same movement which put us in possession of the powers that have now to be regulated by norms… has by a necessary complementarity eroded the foundations from 28 Demos This page is covered by the Demos open access licence.
The risks are our own products, though unexpected and often impossible to predict or calculate. This is because whatever we do, we concentrate on the task at hand (this ability of close-focusing is in fact the secret of the astonishing achievements of science and technology), while the changes we introduce in the balance of nature and society in order to perform that task reverberate far and wide; their distant effects hit back as new dangers, new problems, and thus new tasks. What makes this already depressing plight near catastrophic, though, is that the scale of the changes we inadvertently provoke is so massive, that the line beyond which the risks become totally unmanageable and damages irreparable may be crossed at any moment.
Given the endemic brittleness of foundations, community can ill afford anything but full and militant dedication to the cause; its self-appointed guardians are day and night on the look-out, searching for real or putative traitors, turncoats or just the half-hearted and irresolute. Independence is frowned upon, dissent hounded down, disloyalty persecuted. Pressure to keep the intended flock in the fold is unrelenting; the craved-for cosiness of belonging is offered at the price of unfreedom. The overall effect of all this is yet another case of the by now familiar tendency to expropriate the individual’s moral responsibility.
Alone Again (Demos Papers) by Zygmunt Bauman