Ethos / Ethics

Aleksandra Stevanovic

Ethics stems from Greek Ethos, which has two meanings – custom and one’s nature. Thereby, it is logical to conclude that ethics is determined by one’s own nature, that is, personality. All the decisions we make are merely outcomes of customs and nature, that is, ethics. In this sense, it becomes our key means of self-control and sense of measure to doing anything – and accordingly reaching a balance in life. Fallen ethics creates illusions – in modern society the most prominent one is technology. It entails the entropy of self-will and there is no balance in it. Life out of balance is life without ethics, in the arms of technology. Likewise, to preserve and develop technology means to suppress ethics. Vice versa, to control technology is to regain ethics or ethos. Jacques Ellul implies technology has its own ethics (Ellul, 1962, p. 396), so now we have technoethics and instead of ends justifying the means, means becomes the end in itself – or to put it another way, means justifies the means. Such technological illusions also suppress freedom since ethics strongly relates to freedom – freedom to make a decision regardless of the given circumstances and conditions. In that sense, ethics is also derived from identity – only strong identity, aware that there is no progress (prophesied by technology), but cyclicity, can deny the power of technology and all the illusions that create and are created by technology. Strong ethos makes doubts and illusions weak, because the questions are already answered and not determined by any circumstances. It is the responsibility of ethos to make decisions regardless of conditions and that is what makes freedom, and therefore ethics possible.

keywords: Jacques Ellul, freedom
genealogy: ethos
synonym: self-control, balance, measure, nature, cyclicity
antonym: self-will, chaos, entropy, technology, linearity
hypernym: identity
hyponym: freedom

Ellul, Jacques. (1962). “The Technological Order“. Technology and Culture, Vol. 3, No. 4, Proceedings of the Encyclopaedia Britannica Conference on the Technological Order, pp. 394–421.

COST Action IS1307 New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on 'How Matter Comes to Matter'.

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With the changing of societies on local, national and international scales owing to economic, ecological, political and technological developments and crises, a reorganized academic landscape can be observed to be emerging. Scholarship strives to become increasingly interdisciplinary in order to grasp and examine the unfolding complexity of ongoing ecological, socio-cultural and politico-economic changes. Additionally, academics forge... Read more or find out Who's Who

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Genealogies of New Materialisms; examines and intervenes in canonization processes by compiling a web-based bibliography, coordinating the OST 068/13 8 EN... Read more

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New Materialisms on the Crossroads of the Natural and Human Sciences; seeks to develop new materialisms at the boundaries of the human and natural sciences. The group focuses on how European new materialisms can rework the ‘Two Cultures' gap... Read more

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