HUB ZWART: Welcome to the audience.
Thank you for listening.
To my name is Hub Zwart.
I'm a professor of philosophy
at the Faculty of Science,
Nijmegen in the Netherlands.
And I would like to talk to you
today about organ transplantation,
and more specifically about
organ transplants as commodities.
I think this is a very
urgent ethical issue,
it's a very global issue, it's
a focus of concern worldwide.
And I'll speak about this topic
from a philosophical point of view.
So although I will touch upon and
discuss some of the medical issues,
I will focus, of course, on the
ethical and philosophical issues.
Besides philosophy proper, so,
besides concepts and arguments,
I will also use organ
I will discuss a few movies about
experiences, recipients of organs,
donors of organs, because
I think those movies, organ
transplantation cinema, as it
were, can add something of value,
can add some insights into
our concerns, our anxieties,
our desires concerning organ
transplantations, our challenges,
But before going into
detail, let me first of all
explain the design of my lecture.
So the topic is
But I will especially
address the way in which
has changed our experience,
our view of the human body.
So besides, let's say, bioethical
issues in a very strict sense,
issues such as informed
consent, donor consent,
et cetera, I will, rather,
approach this issue from what
I call a "depth ethics" perspective.
And I'll focus on what
we call in philosophy
the ontological dimension,
the ontological repercussions.
So basically I will
talk about our view
of the human body, our
experience of embodiment.
How has our view of
the human body been
affected by experiences
in organ transplantation?
I will discuss the idea of bodily
integrity, which is a very old
concept, the idea that
human body is very valuable,
it should be inviolable.
But I will explain that, well,
the emergence of transplantation
medicine has changed this, has
shown, has revealed, so to speak,
that our body is not simply
a unity, a coherent whole,
but rather can be seen as an
aggregate of replaceable parts.
So that's the view
of human embodiment
that was more or less
conveyed, you could say,
by transplantation medicine.
So I will point out the
conflict, the tension,
between these two views of human
embodiment, on the one hand,
the traditional idea of the
human body in terms of integrity
and wholeness, on the other hand,
the new view of the human body as
an aggregate of replaceable parts.
Then I will shift, as
I already mentioned,
to organ transplantation cinema.
I will discuss a few
movies about the topic.
And I will especially focus
on the intriguing fact
that in many movies addressing
organ theft is a very key motive.
So many of these movies are more or
less about the problematic origin
of implanted organs.
And I think this is a very
intriguing or interesting aspect.
And I will talk about that. Why do
these movies give so much attention
to, let's say, illegal or
clandestine organ markets,
things like that, organ theft even.
Why is this such a
concern in those movies?
I will talk about that a little bit.
And in the end I will ask
the question, well how has
transplantation medicine changed
our view of the human body
and what can we learn
from, let's say, organ
cinema to understand,
explore, and address
Those will be my concluding remarks.
So I will start with my
ontology, or depth ethics,
of transplantation medicine.
And a very basic claim in my
lecture will be that transplantation
medicine is not simply a technology,
not simply a kind of surgery,
so to speak, that allows us
to solve some health problems,
but that its effect, its impact,
goes much deeper and much further.
It has changed, it
has affected the way
in which we experience ourselves,
as you embody the subjects.
That'll be the claim of my lecture.
medicine has promoted,
you could say, the view of
the human body as an aggregate
of replaceable parts,
So the human body has
become a potential resource,
as it were, for organ recycling
on behalf of the suffering of others.
And that's quite understandable,
because our body contains all kinds
of organs which could
help, which could
save the lives of other people.
And this has changed the way we and
other people look at our bodies.
Our intimate interior of our bodies
contains a set of valuable items
which become objects of desire.
Other people could use
our organs to survive.
We have something which other
people, craving subjects,
craving patients, lack.
And our organs are sources of value.
Sometimes people become donors while
they're still alive, for example,
they can donate a kidney to a
spouse or to a family member.
But of course, most donors
become donors shortly after death,
especially in case of brain death.
And then their body
is, you could say,
a container of very valuable items.
And that's a new experience, a new
way of looking at human bodies.
That's something I will argue.
It has led to what I will refer
to as the emergence of the "body
in pieces," so the
body as a composite
of replaceable components,
And that is a new way of
looking at the human body.
And also in movies this
is captured quite clearly.