September 14, 2005
Perhaps I Spoke Too Soon
While he may be stepping down, he's not stepping out...
Leon R. Kass, the University of Chicago medical ethicist who four years ago today was named by President Bush to head the newly created President's Council on Bioethics, will step down as chairman Oct. 1, the White House announced late Wednesday.
Mixed feelings, anyone?
The White House said it had selected as the new chairman Edmund Pellegrino, 85, a professor emeritus of medicine and medical ethics at Georgetown University Medical Center...
Mission accomplished, Doc!
In one such effort, the council published an anthology of excerpts from popular literature, including works by Leo Tolstoy, William Shakespeare and Homer, that raised difficult bioethics questions.
Montaigne saw it clearly:
Pretty rare stuff, eh? Quite the way with words. But is that the whole of his thoughts on the subject? I don't know why I didn't do this years ago, but here's a little more from the same essay. It notably echoes Homer's Iliad, the Sarpedon and Glaucus interchange...
...how is it possible a man should disengage himself from the thought of death, or avoid fancying that it has us, every moment, by the throat?...
Here's the Homer. Compare and contrast.
My good friend, if, when we were once out of this fight, we could escape old age and death thenceforward and for ever, I should neither press forward myself nor bid you do so, but death in ten thousand shapes hangs ever over our heads, and no man can elude him; therefore let us go forward and either win glory for ourselves, or yield it to another.
So the goal per se is desirable, it's the implementation that has him stymied. Given the circumstances it's a reasonable position.
Returning to Montaigne, we find the following wisdom, somewhat earlier in the same piece...
Let the philosophers say what they will, the main thing at which we all aim, even in virtue itself, is pleasure. It amuses me to rattle in their ears this word, which they so nauseate to hear; and if it signify some supreme pleasure and excessive contentment, it is more due to the assistance of virtue than to any other assistance whatever.
Sometimes it pays to read the whole thing.
posted by Justin on 09.14.05 at 10:21 PM
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