Neither Beast nor God
The Dignity of the Human Person
| September 2009 ~ Cloth ~ $21.95
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The latest title in our New Atlantis Books series. In stores now, and available online (Amazon, Barnes & Noble).
Appeals to human dignity are at the core of many of the most contentious social and political issues of our time. But these appeals suggest different and at times even contradictory ways of understanding the term. Is dignity something we all share equally and therefore the reason we all ought to be treated as equals? Or is dignity what distinguishes some greater and more admirable human beings from the rest? What notion of human dignity should inform our private judgments and our public life?
In Neither Beast nor God, Gilbert Meilaender elaborates the philosophical, social, theological, and political implications of the question of dignity, and suggests a path through the thicket. A noted theologian and a prominent voice in America’s bioethics debates, Meilaender traces the ways in which notions of dignity shape societies, families, and individual lives. He incisively cuts through some of the common confusions that cloud our thinking on key moral questions. The dignity of humanity and the dignity of the person, he argues, are distinct but deeply connected — and only by grasping them both can we find our way to a meaningful understanding of the human condition.
Praise for Neither Beast nor God
“Gilbert Meilaender has written an articulate and compelling justification of human dignity for an age that increasingly evinces less confidence in its self-evidence. Neither Beast nor God is accessible without shortchanging either erudition or complexity. It should be read and considered by everyone with an interest in the future of humanity’s humanity.”
— Patrick J. Deneen
Markos and Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Chair of Hellenic Studies
Director, Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy
“Insightful, uncompromising, and politically incorrect, Neither Beast nor God is Gilbert Meilaender at his best — which is not to be missed.”
— David H. Smith
Director, Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics
“Neither Beast nor God is an exceptionally lucid exploration of the meanings of human dignity. In the classroom, it would beautifully serve alongside Atwood’s Oryx and Crake or Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go to quicken in students an apt and ‘honest puzzlement’ (Meilaender’s term) about who and whose we are in the age of biotechnology. Teachers of moral philosophy should assign this book to their students — I will — and medical practitioners should read it with care.”
— Amy Laura Hall
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Duke University Divinity School
“This book is a good example of religious thinking informing public debates on bioethical issues that deeply depend on some understanding of what it means to be human.... It should be of interest to anyone who wants to follow ethical debates — those within the discussion of health care reform, for example — with a more refined vision of what it means to he human. Meilaender’s significant contribution in clarifying dignity can add to these debates.”
— Richard M. Gula
Franciscan School of Theology
America magazine, October 5, 2009
“Meilaender considers it imperative to recover a profound sense of gratitude for human nature based on awe and wonder: Neither beasts nor gods, human beings dwell in the in-between, and it is good that we do.” Meilaender’s book is “timely” and “a robust attack on the reduction of human dignity to mere autonomy.”
— Thomas V. Berg
Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person
First Things, December 2009
One of the Top Ten Books of 2009: “Gilbert Meilaender provided this year a superb resource for thoughtful people to consider questions of human dignity, and how to maintain it. He starts and ends with the most important question: ‘What is man?’”
— Russell D. Moore
Dean of the School of Theology
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“The truths he relates are timeless and deserve to be recalled to mind in an age when utilitarianism holds sway at the highest levels of political power.”
— Dawn Eden
Author of The Thrill of the Chaste
Weekly Standard, December 21, 2009