Leon Kass, Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times
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Leon Kass’s latest collection of essays provides us with a challenging yet uplifting exploration of human life lived to its fullest. To even consider the question of what makes a worthy life is, to some people, anathema, as if an assessment of the best necessarily implies hostility towards what falls short. It does not. Admiring the Bugatti Chiron as automotive perfection suggests nothing about how one might or should think of, say, the Fiat 500. Even more, no mechanic can improve a car to the extent a book can improve a life. This makes it a book out of time, or would if the author were not one of our leading authorities on issues biomedical and ethical. If anyone can lead us through the most pressing medical concerns of the twenty-first century, it is Leon Kass.
The book is divided into four parts, but it is most useful to think about it through the lens of the second part, entitled “Human Excellence and Human Dignity: Real and Imagined.” Here Kass, a medical doctor and the first...