Bioethics Blogs

Medical Care and the Boundaries of Technology

In a recent post entitled “A View from the Other Side: Roboticized Care,” I recounted my recent encounters with the healthcare system from the perspective of a patient. Some of those observations deserve further reflection.

Technology is, indeed, a wonderful gift, benefiting mankind in innumerable ways. But technology has transgressed its boundaries largely because we have failed to set or enforce boundaries for it. From the time of the Garden humans have had a problem with boundaries, there transgressing the only boundary we were given: do not eat. Technology now offers us the opportunity to transgress another boundary, one that is actually part of our nature: the physical limitations of our embodiment–our boundedness to time, space, and skin. Despising our boundaries and our boundedness, we seek to transcend them through the machinations of technology. This, in truth, was the essence of Satan’s temptation of Jesus—to tempt Jesus to use his powers to escape the limitations of His human boundedness. But God chose a bounded and self-limiting way of relating to us.

But not only are we physically bounded, we are relationally bounded. By God’s design, we are not the wholly autonomous beings we have come to believe, but are social, relational, bounded beings, created by a relational, Trinitarian God for fellowship with Himself and others. It is through our relational interdependence that our lives acquire meaning and significance. Moreover, in this interdependence our choices and actions are limited by and reinforce the dignity of our fellow participants. To be truly human is, therefore, to live within the boundaries of our bounded, mortal, embodied life, while simultaneously being open to God and to our neighbor.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.