Medical Ethics and the Body across Cultures

  • Borut Telban Scientific Research Centre of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts
Keywords: medical ethics, anthropology of the body, human values


By comparing the Western biological, objectified and individualized conceptualization of the human body with the body as lived, experienced, conceptualized, and talked about by the members of different cultures, I would like to show how the European view of the body - based on reason, evolutionary theory, and biomedicine - is far from being universal. To impose, for example in medical ethics, concepts like the mechanical biological body on those people whose history, philosophy and religion did not take a European scientific course implies the imperialism of what is by some believed to be "universal". I intend to present several different examples from different societies and cultures (Western and non-Western) to show how historical changes, cultural values and social relations shape the experience of the human body, health and sickness, and how they situate suffering in local moral worlds.