Do Humans own Themselves? Questions Concerning their Self-Determination and Free Disposition of Self

Christian Bioethics 9 (2-3):303-314 (2003)
The debate about voluntary euthanasia arises from a fundamental anthropological question: do humans own themselves? An answer to this question is developed which starts out from the foundational ethic of Emmanuel Lévinas. The metaphysics of the countenance of the Other in Lévinas is then related to Karl Rahner's description of God as the absolute enigma which is fated towards us. God, understood as that enigma, is experienced for us concretely in our relationship to the countenance of our neighbor, the other human being. Our being thus referred to the absolutely Other in the countenance of the other human grounds not only the non-disposability of that other human being, but also the non-disposability of myself. This is the decisive point for how one should think about euthanasia. In contrast to the voluntary euthanasia, accompaniment in dying takes account of that dialogical constitution of man
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