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Gregorianum 2019 Fasc. 3

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08 - Dell'Oro Roberto - On the ultimate that is the first. - pp. 621-647

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ROBERTO DELL’ORO
On the Ultimate That Is the First:
Thinking Beyond (Bio)ethics


ABSTRACT
The article deals with «presuppositions» in the field of bioethics. It does so with
a concern for questions of meaning, which bioethics tends to bracket, rather than address,
on account of a tendency to reduce normative problems to the level of procedural
rightness. The question of the good, that is, of what grounds our answers, remains
recessive. This is, ultimately, a metaphysical lacuna, for whether we know it or not,
we always rely upon an implicit understanding of the ground of things. The author’s
examples in the article, relating to bioethical debates at the end and the beginning of
life, respectively, show that the tendency is to project upon reality a suspicion of neutrality,
when not lack of value. We tend to emphasize a dimension of active striving
(conatus), rather than receptive wonder (passio), with respect to the good. In so doing,
we grow increasingly inattentive to the sheer givenness of being, now reduced to
neutral thereness available for endless manipulation. Relying especially on the work
of Leuven philosopher William Desmond, the article calls for a different attunement
to the value of things as «given», rather than «produced», and a different love for the
gift of being that is worthy of our trust.
Keywords: medicine and meaning, ethics of death and dying, artificial reproductive
technologies, metaphysics, bioethics.

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ROBERTO DELL’ORO
On the Ultimate That Is the First:
Thinking Beyond (Bio)ethics


ABSTRACT
The article deals with «presuppositions» in the field of bioethics. It does so with
a concern for questions of meaning, which bioethics tends to bracket, rather than address,
on account of a tendency to reduce normative problems to the level of procedural
rightness. The question of the good, that is, of what grounds our answers, remains
recessive. This is, ultimately, a metaphysical lacuna, for whether we know it or not,
we always rely upon an implicit understanding of the ground of things. The author’s
examples in the article, relating to bioethical debates at the end and the beginning of
life, respectively, show that the tendency is to project upon reality a suspicion of neutrality,
when not lack of value. We tend to emphasize a dimension of active striving
(conatus), rather than receptive wonder (passio), with respect to the good. In so doing,
we grow increasingly inattentive to the sheer givenness of being, now reduced to
neutral thereness available for endless manipulation. Relying especially on the work
of Leuven philosopher William Desmond, the article calls for a different attunement
to the value of things as «given», rather than «produced», and a different love for the
gift of being that is worthy of our trust.
Keywords: medicine and meaning, ethics of death and dying, artificial reproductive
technologies, metaphysics, bioethics.

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