By Zygmunt Bauman
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These are serious questions, the kind of which we never had a need to ask before. We seem to require now an entirely new brand of ethics. An ethics made to the measure of the enormous distances of space and time on which we can act and on which we act even when we neither know nor intend it. The ‘first duty’ of such ethics, to quote Jonas again, is ‘visualising the long-range effects of technological enterprise’. Such an ethics must be guided, says Jonas, by a ‘heuristics of fear’ and ‘principle of uncertainty’: even if the arguments of the pessimists and the optimists are finely balanced, ‘the prophecy of doom is to be given greater heed than the prophecy of bliss’.
Such lives are not an unmixed bliss. Far from it. The belief in bliss endemic to a life of consumption is anything but ‘trivially true’. What about uncertainty, insecurity, loneliness and the future being a site of fear instead of hope? What of never accumulating anything securely, 32 Demos This page is covered by the Demos open access licence. Some rights reserved. uk/openaccess New Ethics in Search of New Politics of being sure of nothing, of being never able to say with confidence ‘I have arrived’?
In terms of the orthodox ‘state vs. individual’ dilemma, this is clearly a contradiction and promoting it seems like an effort to square the circle. And yet if any conclusions at all follow from our discussion so far, it is that the contradiction is illusory, and that the widespread uncritical acceptance of the illusion is itself a product of the tendencies which need to be rectified and of the orthodox thought that mimicked them. We have seen that all the designed and tried artificial substitutes for spontaneous moral impulses and the individual responsibility for the Other have failed, or worse, ended up disarming the ethical safeguards Demos This page is covered by the Demos open access licence.
Alone Again (Demos Papers) by Zygmunt Bauman