Yesterday, we were treated to the news Peter links to below, on Pat Robertson’s betrayal of basic Christian teaching on marriage in the face of Alzheimer’s. And over at the good ship Ricochet, there was a chilling report on the state of infanticide law in Canada (If I recall correctly, caught and convicted you might well get away with no jail time, especially if you strangled your baby right after birth, whereas the max is around five years.)
Today, let us heed the words of philosopher Chantal Delsol:
The more this zone of uncertainty between man and animal, the ill and healthy is revealed, the more spiritual criteria become necessary to delineate humanity without ambiguity—at least if we are sure about wanting to guarantee human dignity. For spiritual criteria alone can act as bulwarks . . . Without an ontological foundation, dignity evaporates wherever a gap opens up, whether it be a biological, moral, or mental gap. If we truly want to anchor and maintain the unity of humanity, we will have to admit that man is not only defined by his qualities; he is not simply an animal who holds a mirror up to himself, or an autonomous animal. If dignity is temporary, variable according to age . . . If it depends on the subjective view held by society, how can we consider it irreducible, and how can we prevent a hierarchical sorting of humans in the future?
Page 24, The Unlearned Lessons of the 20th Century
P.S. Somewhere in the early aughties, FT published a beautiful and moving piece about dealing with and thinking about the major diminishment of personal qualities that occurs in Alzheimer’s. It was one of their shorter lead articles, but the search engine isn’t finding it for me. Anyone know it?