Ethics and artificiality

  • Wolfgang Schirmacher
  • Daniel Theisen
Keywords: ethics, phenomenology, art of life, responsibility, animal testing


This essay interrogates the place of ethics, which needs to be located  in philosophy alongside studies of being. Ethics is not an omniscient field of study: there is a room outside ethics, and yet there is ethics. The question here is: of what kind is this ethics? We cannot resort to nature in our search for an ethical stance. References to evolution or constraints of instrumental technology in themselves do not suffice to argue for ethical positions. Neither can we rely on extrahuman forces, such as theologicians and metaphysicians do in their ethical ruminations. Rather, we need to fully acknowledge our art of life. When we undertake a phenomenological study of our life as environment we study “how life lives”. Crucial to such an endeavour is a close observance of a highly complex form of responsibility: we need to fully face up to our failures and successes in order to fully grasp the sufferings brought on to other species through animal testing, or the questions posed by our encounter with AIDS. We need to be able to face death while we interrogate the possibility of life, love and love of life.

Author Biography

Wolfgang Schirmacher

Wolfgang Schirmacher is Professor at the European Graduate School, Switzerland and Malta, where he founded the Philosophy Programme in 1998. He has previously taught at the New School for Social Research, and at the Polytechnic University in New York. He is President of the Internationale Schopenhauer-Vereinigung — Forum für offenes Philosophieren. Writing in the tradition of Nietzsche and Heidegger Schirmacher relies on the notion of Homo generator and specific life techniques to give an affirmative interpretation of artificial life. His main areas of philosophy is media, technology and the art of living.


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