Thursday, November 5, 2009

On the fear of death and the failure of technology

From Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity, by Leon Kass, MD:

The greater our medical successes, the more unacceptable is failure and the more intolerable and fightening is death. True, many causes of death have been vanquished, but the fear of death has not abated, and may, indeed, have gotten worse. Nor as we have saved ourselves from the rapidly fatal illnesses, we now die slowly, painfully and in degradation--with cancer, AIDS or Alzheimer's disease. In our effort to control and rationalize death and dying, we have medicalized and institutionalized so much of the end of life as to produce what amounts to living death for thousands of people. Moreover, for these reasons we now face growing pressures for the legalization of euthanasia, which will complete the irony by casting the doctor, preserver of life, into the role of dispenser of death. We seem to be in the biomedical equivalent of a spiraling arms race with ourselves, creating technologies that heal only to cripple or crush, requiring us to respond either by seeking more technologies that heal or by electing a technological escape from life altogether.


Anonymous said...

Excellently put and frightfully true