((released 2003-01-01) (handle con-18-m) (supplement ))
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.