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Suffering and Bioethics$
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Ronald M. Green and Nathan J. Palpant

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199926176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926176.001.0001

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Suffering, and the Promise of a World without Pain

Suffering, and the Promise of a World without Pain

(p.61) 4 Suffering, and the Promise of a World without Pain
Suffering and Bioethics

Joseph A. Amato

Oxford University Press

Humans have increasingly endowed themselves with transformative powers, guided by a vision that is secular, progressive, and redemptive. In contrast to this utopian vision, this chapter looks further back, offering a narrative history of Western culture, from its Greco-Roman roots, through the biblical traditions, to modern and contemporary times. Throughout this history, the author thematically queries the place and value of suffering in human existence. In these more long-lived cultural traditions, suffering has given rise to pity, sorrow, lament, supplication, and pleasure; it has occasioned judgment, punishment, and war; and it has shown itself as a source of forgiveness and the grounds for mercy. Acknowledging the power of the post-Enlightenment quest to reduce suffering through medical, scientific, and technological means, the author repeatedly declares suffering’s power to affirm, value, and consecrate personal and communal life.

Keywords:   narrative history, Western culture, Greco-Roman, biblical tradition, post-Enlightenment, suffering

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