Hans Jonas, who fled Nazi Germany (his mother died in Auschwitz), fought in Israel’s war of independence, and in 1964 publicly denounced his mentor, Martin Heidegger, for having pro-Nazi views, died on this date in 1993 at age 90. Jonas chaired the philosophy department at the New School for Social Research from 1957 to 1963 and remained on the faculty there until 1976. His examination of Gnosticism, The Gnostic Religion(1958), became a standard text of religious studies; his 1979 book, The Imperative of Responsibility (published in English in 1984), was one of the first to focus on the social and ethical issues raised by advancing technology and helped galvanize Germany’s Green movement. He was one of the first philosophers in America to engage seriously with medical ethics in the 1960s with explorations of the definition of death and the moral issues of using human beings for medical research.

“The latest revelation — from no Mount Sinai, from no Mount of the Sermon, from no Bo (tree of Buddha) — is the outcry of mute things themselves that we must heed by curbing our powers over creation, lest we perish together on a wasteland of what was creation.” —Hans Jonas