Wednesday, June 17, 2015
The National Catholic Reporter on the papacy and resisting instrumental reason.
Another theological concept that may relate ecological concern and concern for the value of unborn life has to do with our attempts to colonize mystery with instrumental reason. This was German philosopher Martin Heidegger's critique of technology: increasingly, we moderns "see nature and people only as raw material for technical operations" rather than as autonomous, self-revealing mysteries.
Benedict XVI was the pope who first diagnosed, in a Heideggerian vein, "something wrong in our relationship with nature." Ecological movements, he said to the German Federal Parliament in 2011, deserve credit for recognizing "that matter is not just raw material for us to shape at will, but that the earth has a dignity of its own and that we must follow its directives."
Pro-life advocates who decry the "holocaust" of abortion may be a little too certain they have understood the sui generis mystery of prenatal life, which for a while consists only of a few clumps of cells that the human body frequently spontaneously aborts -- hardly a sign of something "ensouled." Nevertheless, is it spiritually any worthier or philosophically more consistent to view these embryonic beginnings as a Heideggerian "standing reserve," defining them and disposing of them entirely as we see fit under the aegis of a rhetoric of human choice?
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