Technology and Life

JPI 871

In view of the Cartesian separation between res extensa and rex cogitans that continues to shape our civilization, philosopher Robert Spaemann diagnosed a blind spot in modern science. “What gets lost in this separation, what cannot be thought anymore,” Spaemann observes, “is: life. Life is essentially withinness and withoutness, both interiority and exteriority, at once being-for-itself and being-in-relation-to another.” This course seeks to reclaim some of the best recent and contemporary thought concerning the meaning of "life" and its relation to personhood, particularly in the face of the encroachments of technology. Readings by Spaemann, John Paul II, Benedict XVI/Joseph Ratzinger, Angelo Scola, Hans Jonas, Stephen Talbott, and others will serve as a foundation for elucidating the theological and anthropological significance of being alive in conversation with recent philosophy of biology. On the basis of this groundwork, several bioethical questions will be considered at the end of the course.

Course Texts for Fall 2021

  • Course Compendium - available from Cognella
  • Craig Holdrege, Genetics and the Manipulation of Life: The Forgotten Factor of Context (Lindisfarne Press, 1996) ISBN  978-0940262775
  • Hans Jonas, The Phenomenon of Life: Toward a Philosophical Biology (Northwestern University, 2001) ISBN 9780810117495
  • Leon Kass, Toward a More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs (Free Press, 1988) ISBN 978-0029170717
  • Liza Mundy, Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Reproduction Is Changing Our World (Anchor Books, 2007) ISBN  978-1400095377

Associated Faculty

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