People

Leon Kass

Leon Kass is a scientist trained as a biochemist, and is currently the Addie Clark Harding Professor at the University of Chicago and the Hertog Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of Toward a More Natural Science and The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature. In August 2001 he was appointed to head the President's advisory task force on human cloning. For insight into his thinking on bioethical issues, see his 1979 article—reprinted in the Winter 2002 issue of The Public Interest— titled "The Meaning of Life - in the Laboratory."

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 106

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Guests on Volume 106: Adam Briggle, on how Leon Kass's leadership of the President's Council on Bioethics attempted to reframe public thinking about ethical matters; John C. Médaille, on why economics should be concerned with ethical matters from the bottom up; Christopher Page, on how the presence of choral music in the Church shaped the rise of the West; Christian Smith, on why sociologists need a richer understanding of human nature and human personhood and should recognize "love" as an essential human attribute; Herman Daly, on why he and Wendell Berry are disturbed by the lack of attention paid by classical economics to the realities of the material world; and Thomas Hibbs, on the dark nihilism in the films of Woody Allen.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 66

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Guests on Volume 66: Leon Kass, on how various biotechnologies promise to fulfill certain legitimate human desires in illegitimate ways, and on how new technologies have changed the assumptions many people have about their children; Nigel Cameron, on why American churches have been negligent in promoting robust thinking about the current bioethical crisis; Susan Wise Bauer, on how adults can acquire many of the benefits of a classical education long after leaving school by reading wisely and well; Esther Lightcap Meek, on belief, doubt, certainty, authority, and how knowledge (of God and other matters) is acquired, sustained, and properly recognized; John Shelton Lawrence, on how John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Superman, and the governor of California all embody a great American myth; and Ralph C. Wood, on the disappointing discrepancies between Peter Jackson's films and J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 60

Guests on Volume 60: David Naugle, on the origins of the term "worldview," and the spiritual and religious significance of "worldview thinking" for Christians; D. G. Hart, on the distinctions between evangelicalism and confessional Protestantism; Dermot Quinn, on the historical wisdom of Christopher Dawson, and the skepticism of contemporary historians; Russell Hittinger, on how a right to privacy emerged and evolved in American constitutional law and on how a landmark federal court decision addressed physician-assisted suicide; Leon Kass, on why a commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not enough to protect human dignity; and James Howard Kunstler, on how designing spaces that respect cars but not pedestrians has made so much of America unlovable if not unlivable.

MARS HILL AUDIO Conversation 18

Human Nature, Human Dignity

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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.

MARS HILL AUDIO Conversation 8

Bread & the Hungry Soul

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Leon Kass, physician, biologist, and professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago, discusses his book The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature, in which he explores how the activity of eating provides clues for understanding human nature and helps guide morality and communal life. Then Brother Peter Reinhart talks about the art of breadmaking as a metaphor for spiritual life. 72 minutes.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 12

Guests on Volume 12: George Weigel, on posturing and prudence in pro-life politics; Don Eberly, on the inability of politics to cure cultural problems; David Wells, on recapturing a "weighty" understanding of God; Alan Jacobs, on the Christian conviction of poet Christina Rossetti; Ken Myers, on instances of naturalistic positivism in recent science journalism; Nancy Pearcey, on misunderstanding the history of science; Leon Kass, on the deeper meaning of eating; and John Hodges, on J. S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio.