MARS HILL AUDIO Conversation 18

Human Nature, Human Dignity

Modern people tend to ignore questions about the nature and purpose of things while learning to control them more efficiently. But as science and technology offer us the ability to fundamentally transform human nature, we can no longer avoid addressing metaphysical questions. The crisis of our time, many thinkers agree, is one concerning the definition of human nature. In “Human Life, Human Dignity,” Leon Kass outlines what is at stake and sets forth a framework for indispensable discussions surrounding biotechnologies. Kass stresses that we must approach the discussion with reverence and awe and that a major component of the discussion should be the notion of human dignity. Kass recommends that we turn first not to the findings of science and technology, but to the canon of “residual wisdom” in the East and West—found in literary, philosophical, and religious traditions—that vividly depicts human nature in its glories and tragedies. 60 minutes.

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    Leon Kass: “. . . the attempt to try to perfect the human condition was often to fall far short and to countenance all kinds of horrors, as the 20th century and its own utopian thinking has made only too clear . . .”
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    “For the most part, bioethics has focused on . . . questions of freedom and autonomy . . . [and of] distributive justice, or it has developed procedures for conflict resolution . . .”
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    “Reductionism . . . has yielded a great deal of power. . . . But the real scientists know that they’re cheating. . . . Wavelength is not color; peptides are not falling in love.”
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    “What the American mind does not understand is the deep character of tragedy, in which the hero’s miseries are in fact deeply embedded in his glory . . .”
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    “We believe in progress and the pursuit of perfection. . . . We are so obsessed with performance that we come to care less about whether it is human performance . . .”