Ada, ou L’Ardeur by Vladimi Nabokov

By Vladimi Nabokov

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The clarity of that task in our current situation is largely due to the efforts of Callahan and Gaylin. They transformed "medical ethics" from concerns about fees and Good Samaritan liability to reflection on the moral meaning of biological technology; and they brought into the reflective discourse not only the benefactors (perpetrators), beneficiaries (victims), monitors (whistle blowers), and funding agencies (exploiters), but also historians, lawyers, social theorists and analysts, critics of culture, and philosophers with specialties in ethics, epistemology, religion, and even metaphysics.

There is no way one can accept or contain within itself a proper status for the other. The finite human world is a moral world. Whatever its selective order, certain things are valuable in recognizable connections, and these contend for respect while they command moral energies. In the pragmatic Page 11 commonalities of known cultures, human suffering is bad unless it serves a higher good, and the things that prevent or alleviate suffering are positive values; so are things that nourish, that secure the human ecological niche, that satisfy needs and ambitions, and that serve the needs of the spirit.

No tradition has been more morally earnest than the Puritan, unless perhaps it has been the Confucian. There is irony intended in both the smile and in the reference to Puritanism. Not that the historic Puritans didn't have their straightforward fun and humor, if a bit more straightforward than jolly. Edmund Leites has recently demonstrated that Puritanism intensified wit and warmth, particularly within the household, only eschewing those extremes of feeling that threaten the social bonds. 10 But smiling is not the popular image of Puritanism.

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