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Leon R. Kass

Data de nascimento: 12. Fevereiro 1939

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Leon Richard Kass is an American physician, scientist, educator, and public intellectual, best known as proponent of liberal education via the "Great Books," as an opponent of human cloning, life extension and euthanasia, as a critic of certain areas of technological progress and embryo research, and for his controversial tenure as chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics from 2001 to 2005. Although Kass is often referred to as a bioethicist, he eschews the term and refers to himself as "an old-fashioned humanist. A humanist is concerned broadly with all aspects of human life, not just the ethical."

Kass is currently the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the College and the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and the Hertog Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. His books include Toward A More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs; The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of our Nature; Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics; The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis; and What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song.

Citações Leon R. Kass

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„I have discovered in the Hebrew Bible teachings of righteousness, humaneness, and human dignity—at the source of my parents' teachings of mentschlichkeit—undreamt of in my prior philosophizing. In the idea that human beings are equally God-like, equally created in the image of the divine, I have seen the core principle of a humanistic and democratic politics, respectful of each and every human being, and a necessary correction to the uninstructed human penchant for worshiping brute nature or venerating mighty or clever men. In the Sabbath injunction to desist regularly from work and the flux of getting and spending, I have discovered an invitation to each human being, no matter how lowly, to step outside of time, in imitatio Dei, to contemplate the beauty of the world and to feel gratitude for its—and our—existence. In the injunction to honor your father and your mother, I have seen the foundation of a dignified family life, for each of us the nursery of our humanization and the first vehicle of cultural transmission. I have satisfied myself that there is no conflict between the Bible, rightly read, and modern science, and that the account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis offers "not words of information but words of appreciation," as Abraham Joshua Heschel put it: "not a description of how the world came into being but a song about the glory of the world's having come into being"—the recognition of which glory, I would add, is ample proof of the text's claim that we human beings stand highest among the creatures. And thanks to my Biblical studies, I have been moved to new attitudes of gratitude, awe, and attention. For just as the world as created is a world summoned into existence under command, so to be a human being in that world—to be a mentsch—is to live in search of our ­summons. It is to recognize that we are here not by choice or on account of merit, but as an undeserved gift from powers not at our disposal. It is to feel the need to justify that gift, to make something out of our indebtedness for the opportunity of existence. It is to stand in the world not only in awe of its and our existence but under an obligation to answer a call to a worthy life, a life that does honor to the special powers and possibilities—the divine-likeness—with which our otherwise animal existence has been, no thanks to us, endowed.“

—  Leon R. Kass