This is a review of the book Aristotle by John Herman Randall, Jr., Easton Press leather bound edition (1990).
The world used to be more orderly and peaceful. We all knew our roles and place in the world. Guided by our parents, pastors, and teachers, we knew how high we should reach and set our goals, so that one day we successfully reach our niche in life. We studied as children and then as adults fulfilled our occupations and professions to the best of our abilities, or at least satisfactorily and responsibly. We strove to reach our métier in life, so we would not end up as a disillusioned and unemployed “poets manqué.”
It has been argued that secular (non-religious) individuals and organizations display highly moral standards without belief in god or religion. Admittedly, this is true as far as organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders, but not necessarily true of the individuals who actually do the work, many of them are quiet or religious people operating with compassion under religious morality. These humanitarians keep their religion to themselves, although they might be working under the umbrella of a secular organization.
In the course and development of Western culture, the Judeo-Christian and the Graeco-Roman heritages became inextricably entwined becoming the twin pillars of Western civilization that have withstood the test of time. With the Hebrew experience, the Ten Commandments, the Old Testament, man was seen as having free will and having the capacity to do good or evil — i.e., develop moral conduct, for which he would be rewarded or punished in the afterlife.
In medicine and surgery, traditional medical ethics have been based on the Oath of Hippocrates that has endured through the centuries because its precepts are patient-oriented — namely, that the first consideration of the physician is the needs of the individual patient. Doctors are sworn to do no harm and to advise and do what is in the best interest of their patients; third-party payers, insurers, society and the State are (or should be) secondary considerations.
Abstract — In discussing bioethics and the formulation of neuroethics, the question has arisen as to whether secular humanism should be the sole philosophical guiding light, to the exclusion of any discussion (or even mention) of religious morality, in professional medical ethics. In addition, the question has arisen as to whether freedom or censorship should be part of medical (and neuroscience) journalism.
Since the heyday of Billy Graham in the 1950s to the 1980s, Protestantism has evolved mostly to become silent on secular issues or to speak only to promulgate politically correct (PC) proclamations depending on the trendy issues of the day. I was brought up as a Presbyterian. Presbyterianism originally believed in the Elect and predestination. As a 14-year-old boy when I discussed this with my pastor, a learned man and respected pillar of the Miami community, he brushed it aside to talk to me about the power of faith.
The study of the nature of reality leads to the Medieval argument (conflict) between Realists and Nominalists. I will defer further discussion on that controversy for now, and instead, deal with more contemporary philosophies.
Pragmatism or Idealism
Dr. Jane M. Orient’s emphasis on morality’s importance in medicine (Medical Sentinel, Spring 1997) is characteristically on target. Her reminding us that religion created that morality is also vitally important. But she may err in seeing that morality as based on objective “natural law” rather than on something quite different: objective, religiously- and historically-defined Moral Law.
In A.D. 1212, a Children's Crusade was formed allegedly
to rescue the Holy Sepulcher. Instead, the children were
lured and sold into slavery by unscrupulous and cruel
traders. Thousands of innocent children died of hunger
and disease and from their brutal ordeal. It is said that
the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, who led
the children by the tune of his pipe,
derives from this dreadful affair.
Is Insufficient Spending the Culprit?
The crisis of American medicine is not tobacco, AIDS, silicone implants, the Gulf War Syndrome, breast or other forms of cancer, physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, licensure, medical care for the poor, or any other specific medical or ethical issue. The crisis of American medicine is far greater than any one of these problems, indeed it is far greater than all of them combined, because the answers to these problems do not come from within them but from medical ethics.