Being Human: snippets and favorites

Being Human


Edited by Leon Kass


Finished July 2013


Some of the best readings from this anthology from literature meant to instigate reasoned thinking about bioethical controversies were:


Richard Selzer (author)

A woman tracks down her deceased husband’s transplanted heart and cajoles the recipient to let her listen to it for an hour.


In another tale, a vain surgeon’s cleft palate patient dies, yet he operates on her dead body, later to be revolted by remembrance of his obsessive, undignified deed.


Hans Jonas (author)

Human inviolability, worth, dignity in the body. Natality. Jonas influences Kass on bioethics.


R. L. Stevenson on the perspective of children.


The mother’s account of her child’s cancer treatment in Peed Onk, pediatric oncology.


The excerpt from the Book of Job pleased me more than my previous readings in the King James version.


Mark Twain’s telling of his shock and grief at his daughter’s death captivated me.


Jonathan Swift’s Struldbruggs lived here forever. It wasn’t pretty.


Tuck Everlasting had deathless people, too. Immortality of this kind is troubling.


The Hippocratic Oath forbids abortion and physician assisted suicide.


Homer’s Odyssey is about going home, about duty to, and longing for, kin.


Bukovsky told of the Russian socialism that imprisoned him. Socialism strives to humble the rich, detaches the rail car of the richest from the train and distributes the wealth. Then the next richest, then the next. All that are left are poor kulaks so socialists steal their land and grain and deport them. Socialism bleeds the life and spirit out of individuals by design.