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Towards Humane Technologies

Biotechnology, New Media and Ethics

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Edited by Naomi Sunderland, Phil Graham, Peter Isaacs and Bernard McKenna

What are the ethical and political implications when the very foundations of life—things of awe and spiritual significance—are translated into products accessible to few people? This book critically analyses this historic recontextualisation. Through mediation—when meaning moves ‘from one text to another, from one discourse to another’—biotechnology is transformed into analysable data and into public discourses.
The unique book links biotechnology with media and citizenship.
As with any ‘commodity’, biological products have been commodified. Because enormous speculative investment rests on this, risk will be understated and benefit will be overstated. Benefits will be unfairly distributed. Already, the bioprospecting of Southern megadiverse nations, legally sanctioned by U. S. property rights conventions, has led to wealth and health benefits in the North.
Crucial to this development are biotechnological discourses that shift meanings from a “language of life” into technocratic discourses, infused with neo-liberal economic assumptions that promise progress and benefits for all. Crucial in this is the mass media’s representation of biotechnology for an audience with poor scientific literacy. Yet, even apparently benign biotechnology spawned by the Human Genome Project such as prenatal screening has eugenic possibilities, and genetic codes for illness are eagerly sought by insurance companies seeking to exclude certain people.
These issues raise important questions about a citizenship that is founded on moral responsibility for the wellbeing of society now and into the future. After all, biotechnology is very much concerned with the essence of life itself. This book provides a space for alternative and dissident voices beyond the hype that surrounds biotechnology.

The Curve of the Sacred

An Exploration of Human Spirituality

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Constantin V. Ponomareff and Kenneth A. Bryson

This interdisciplinary book examines the nature of spirituality and the role it plays in the search for meaning. Spirituality is a loving tendency towards the sacred. In a secular environment, the sacred is taken to be a power greater than self. In a religious environment, the Sacred refers to God, or Higher Power. The book examines the developments of the s/Sacred in great works of art and literature, as well as in medicine, theology, psychology, philosophy, and religion. Spirituality also functions as an unloving tendency towards disunity, or a force for evil.
The first part of the book examines the ways of the spiritual as a force for good and evil. We have just witnessed one of the bloodiest centuries in human history. The experience of two World Wars leaves a legacy of brokenness: “Where Nossack’s reminiscences bore poetic, compassionate, and personal witness to the disaster, Eliot’s poetry reads more like a sacred and religious poem taking contemporary Western European civilization to task—much like the biblical prophets of old—for its spiritual bankruptcy.” Albert Einstein, Edvard Munch’s Madonna, and Carl Jung’s ‘unconscious’ touch the curve of the Sacred in more promising places.
The second part examines how the search for meaning works. The distinction between being human and being a person plays a central role in the life of the spiritual; “…the spiritual is manifest in the activities taking place in the central self. The central self is the locus of all thoughts, feelings, acts of reason and judgment, conscious and unconscious processes alike. The central self is the place where social relationships and environmental relationships are processed. The essential feature of the central self is that it does not exist outside these processes.” The same spiritual energies that light up great works of art also light up our destructive side, only the associations’ change.

Religion, Conflict and Reconciliation

Multifaith Ideals and Realities

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Edited by Jerald D. Gort, Henry Jansen and Hendrik M. Vroom

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Edited by Johannes L. Brandl, Marian David and Leopold Stubenberg

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Deane Curtin and Robert Litke

Violence can be physical and psychological. It can characterize personal actions, forms of group activity, and abiding social and political policy. This book includes all of these aspects within its focus on institutional forms of violence. Institution is also a broad category, ranging from formal arrangements such as the military, the criminal code, the death penalty and prison system, to more amorphous but systemic situations indicated by parenting, poverty, sexism, work, and racism. Violence is as complex as the human beings who resort to it; its institutional forms pervade our relational lives. We are all participants in it as victims and perpetrators. The chapters in this book were written in the hope that violence can be explicated, even if not fully understood, and that such clarification can help us in devising less violent forms of living, even if it does not lead to its total abolition. The studies bring new aspects of violence to light and offer a number of suggestions for its remedy.

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Edited by Alan Milchman and Alan Rosenberg

This book is the first sustained inquiry into the ways in which postmodern thinkers have grappled with the historical bases, implications, and methodological problems of the Holocaust. The book examines the thinking of Arendt, Levinas, Foucault, Lyotard, and Derrida, all of whom have recognized the centrality of the Nazi genocide to the epoch in which we live. The essays written for this volume constitute a wide-ranging study of the efforts of postmodernism to articulate the Holocaust.

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William Gerber

The book analyzes, synthesizes, and evaluates the insights of the world's outstanding thinkers, prophets, and literary masters on the good, the morally right, and the lovely (part one); the question whether the world operates on the basis of such universal laws as the logos, the tao, and the principle of polarity (part two); what there is and isn't in the world, including such categories as existence, reality, being, and nonbeing (part three); and pre-eminently credible and enriching beliefs about truth, wisdom, and what it all means (part four).
Emphasis is placed on the divergent views of such intellectual giants as Confucius and Laotse in ancient China; the classical Hindu philosophers from ancient times to Gandhi and Tagore; patriarchs and prophets quoted in Scripture; Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages; Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, and Kant; and nineteenth- and twentieth-century luminaries such as Bentham, Mill, Peirce, James, Dewey, Sartre, and Wittgenstein.
The differences and resemblances of their cogitations are portrayed as a conversation of the ages on questions of persistent concern.

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Edited by Thomas Magnell

The essays in Explorations of Value are drawn from work first presented at the 20th Conference of Value Inquiry. They are not mere records of conference presentations. The authors have reflected on their initial presentations. They have re-thought arguments in light of discussions at the conference. They have revised their work. All of this has combined to bring fresh ideas on important issues into carefully considered discussions. The nineteen authors of the essays do not share a common viewpoint on all problems of value inquiry. They are certainly not in agreement in their conclusions. Their concerns, however, cluster around a recognizable body of questions. Several of the authors raise fundamental questions on the nature of values and the possibility of giving them an objective status. Some of the authors raise questions about where value inquiry becomes value advocacy. They are also ready to ask whether or not advocacy is in the legitimate purview of philosophers. A number of authors set out to examine conditions of moral practice and of harming or benefiting people in general. Other authors show a concern for juxtaposing moral values and aesthetic values, in some cases to observe similarities, in some, differences. Finally, a few authors focus on particular notions such as forgiveness, intimacy, and love that are central to our lives.

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Edited by Steven Earnshaw

The essays collected here represent the latest thinking on postmodernism in a number of key areas: economics, law, postcolonialism, literature, feminism, film, philosophy. One of the issues common to the volume is the desire to cast postmodernism in a predominantly ethical ('just') light, and the opportunities and obstacles postmodernism might place in the path of the description of, and search for, justice. The collection highlights the most recent trends in postmodern thinking, the turn away from postmodernism as mere discourse and language games to a more politically and socially engaged forum. The book will be of interest to all students of contemporary cultural, social and critical thought.