The morning question

No new Bioethics cases from Glenn McGee today, we’re patiently working our way through midterm report presentations. Good opportunity to step back and ponder larger questions. Life. The Universe. Everything.

Well, what about life? [Don’t ask Marvin.] What obliges us to preserve, protect, and defend it? Komron’s report on physician-assisted suicide muddies the question. It seems the very least  a conscientious healer can do for some patients, in loyalty to life, is help them terminate an untenable and intolerable existence. Not to help, in those toughest cases, is to harm.

What’s wrong with misanthropy? Isn’t it the most rational stance, given our history? Why shouldn’t we notice and deplore and finally renounce all the collective harm we do to our planet and other species, and decide (with Vincent) that we  really ought to pull the plug on ourselves?

Hard questions. But at this hour, my answer is always clear: it’s morning, the life at hand is all I’ve got for sure, there stands a day before me: what good shall I try to do today? That’s what Ben Franklin called The Morning Question. The fate of whatever life may lie ahead, we dawn philosophers presume, hangs in the balance of how we all respond. “The days are gods,” is how Emerson said that.

(We’re free willists too, I suppose it goes without saying. “I will posit life (the real, the good) in the self-governing resistance of the ego to the world. Life shall be built in doing and suffering and creating ,” confided young Willy James to his former diary of despair. Then he got up and began to live.)

The really vital question for us all is, What is this world going to be? What is life eventually to make of itself?” Nearly forty years on James still didn’t know The Answer, and neither do I. But pragmatic philosophers feel the greatest tug from ahead, urging us forward, already depending on us to make something good of this day.

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