Totalitarian Elements in Mind/Body Dualism and What this Means for Bioethics

Here is a presentation I gave at the Southern Political Science Association Conference in New Orleans on January 11, 2014.

In The Phenomenon of Life, Hans Jonas identifies the root of contemporary bioethical problems in the incorrect philosophical anthropology of mind-body dualism. What does this modern prejudice have to do with bioethical issues today from in vitro fertilization to euthanasia? Listen here! (20 min.)

I welcome your comments, critiques, responses, and recommended reading.

This post is dedicated with gratitude to Barry Cooper who first introduced me to Hans Jonas and helped me to study and love these questions.

SPSA Panel

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Dying with Dignity?

Below is an excerpt from my parents’ Letter from the Editors in the May 2012 issue of The Carillon, the newsletter of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary:

Last month our daughter, Amanda, attended the Dying with Dignity seminar in Calgary. She wanted to, as St. Augustine urges, “hear the other side” of the euthanasia debate. Amanda said that she felt she was observing a contradiction. The seniors were visiting, laughing, discussing and snacking and everything they did seemed to affirm life. Yet, all the while, they were trying to advance the “right to die.” Proponents of euthanasia and assisted suicide seem to think that suffering is the greatest evil. Amanda has been reflecting on Socrates’ argument that it is better to suffer evil than to commit it. As Catholics, we unite our suffering with Christ’s sacrifice so that it can be transformed by God’s redemptive power. We agree with Amanda when she says that we ought to ground our public policies in a life-affirming philosophy rather than case-by-case verdicts on questions of convenience. She says that the answer to elder abuse is to eliminate the abuse, not the elder. It is the sanctity of human life, not our utility, that gives ultimate purpose to our lives. Let us recognize the face of Christ in the elderly and celebrate God’s gifts as they enrich our lives and we enrich theirs.

– Monique and Myron Achtman