Bioethics crisis: Interview of Henri Hude

Publié le 31 Mar, 2013

On the bioethics challenges, the news, the point of view of decision makers, institutional investors and policy makers reveal a libertarian thought and the cult of the transgression. In France, 2013 started off very strongly: reimbursement at 100% for the voluntary termination of pregnancy, will to authorize the research on the embryo, to open the medically assisted procreation to homosexual couples or couples for convenience, project to decriminalize euthanasia or to legalize the terminal sedation… Bioethics is today in crisis. Henri Hude (1), philosopher, invites to analyse the causes to come up with some solutions.


G: The “bioethics crisis” can be analysed as the achievement of several years of transgressive thought. What do you think about that?


H.H.: It is a fact that the man is worked by a need of freedom, absolute and infinite. Thus, when he mixes up freedom and independence, he wants to be infinitely independent and absolutely arbitrary. The transgression of all he could depend on is the end of this fantasy of absolute independence. When the man is free and healthy, he lives accepting that there are things which do not depend on him. When he is possessed by an incredible desire of independence, he wants to break down any order he depends on, any law, any authority, any nature of things, any absolute foundation, any objective truth, etc. His freedom cannot support anything which limits him: reality, truth, objective justice, foundation of such a justice. A willingness possessed by this fantasy needs to affirm putting everything upside down, denying the structure and the kindness of the nature, denying any Foundation, infringing the authority of the consciousness, etc. Because all this would limit his desire.  This way, the freedom changes into will of transgression for the transgression.  

Then the transgression turns into a new tyranny. A transgressive freedom, which has no objective principle of judgment and action, is very unstable and dependent.  This is why it is intolerant. It cannot support the contradiction. It wants to be independent, but then it becomes absolutely dependent on opinion of others. It needs absolutely its recognition. Otherwise it self-doubts and the bad consciousness mars the enjoyment. This is why such a transgressive freedom wants everybody transgresses as it does it, or approbates its transgressions, or at least prohibits any observation. And this is the way we come to the tyranny, because the freedom of transgression wants to impose dogmatically as the standard.  When such a standard establishes, there are only power relationships. The strong dominate, by violence or cunning.  The weak are doomed to crush, because the defence of their rights would suppose the respect of an objective justice, the transgression refuses.


We have to add that the secularism does not exclude absolutely the idea of an objective moral, because any civilized society supposes such an idea. The founders of the secularism claimed the big philosophy of the Enlightenment, that of Emmanuel Kant. But Kant admits a universal, mandatory moral law independent of the individual arbitrary, founded on the Reason. This rational moral was practically identical in its contents to the Christian moral, whereas it differed a lot in the spirit.  The secularism which works, it is an agreement on the moral, attached to the freedom to find the Foundation without suffering constraints. But if there is no subjective moral, it is not “another civilization”, it is “no civilization at all”.
What we can criticize to the secularism of the great era, it was the abuse of the moral and moralism. Those who say to be secularist today, are too often libertarian, who had an indigestion of this rationalist moral, without nature, without happiness, without God and without love – who had contaminated even the religious moral. They judge it stuffy, nevrosing. But as they are transgressive and do not want God or nature, their only way, in order not to explode, is to define the freedom with the possibility of the transgression of this famous “moral law”. This generates a very special immorality, which thinks to be the moral and wants to impose to all a moral order backward. This is a curious phenomenon.


Finally, we see that transgressive people hate the religion and that it is for them a really strong motivation.  And indeed, transgressive people need that all is subjective. If the religion was purely subjective and did not make any observation to anybody, they could support it. Otherwise, God is of course the reality which offends the most their will of absolute independence.  
But transgressive people have their own religion and their own moral: the transgressive nihilism. They want to impose this religion and this moral to all. This is what they like to call, we don’t know why, secularism.     
Here is the origin of their religion. To better eradicate any “moral law”, any objective justice, any natural justice law, all the possible Foundations have to be removed: the Nature (Greco-Roman), God (Judeo-Christian) and the Reason (of the Enlightenment). Once these three Foundations are removed, it remains the Void. And as the Man has always the idea of the Foundation, the Void becomes this Foundation, their God.     
The transgression leads to a religion of the Void to which we join by the transgression: the transgressive nihilism. This one (because it is transgressive) wants to set the society straight.


G: The bioethics crisis is explained by the denial of the natural law. May you enlighten us?


H.H.: There is a “natural law”: We can discover it in three steps. 


1° If the men want to live in a real peace, without violence or cunning – they must adopt as fundamental policy a law of peace which is a law of confidence. The rules which make trustworthy, keep their word, do not lie, perform the contracts are part of them, etc. This law is also a law of friendship. It allows being one with dignity in freedom.

2° This law of peace deserves to be called a natural law, because the peace allows the man to really develop his nature, and because he is naturally social.               

3° This fundamental political law, which can be called natural, does not automatically impose to human beings, like the physical laws. It proposes to their decision power (to their freedom) and it prescribes to their conscience what is fair and friendly (what everybody calls the good). This is what we call a moral law.    
Consequently, there is a law of peace, which is a natural law for the man, and which is a moral law.    
Starting from there, we can expose in detail the content of this “natural law”.


We can deny the existence of this law in two ways, either supposing a natural harmony of the egoist interests, or denying that the man is naturally social. But,


1° all the evidences we have, prove that the man has always be social and nothing can allow assuming otherwise. To these historical evidences, we can add the length of the education, or the importance of the language and the relationship with others.


2° The interests are in harmony only to the extent that the individual is moral and takes into account the good of its descendants – but such integrity supposes the fidelity to an objective and rational moral code. What leads us to the conclusions of the main rationale.


Can this concept have a universal value today?  I think it will be more and more the case. There is no civilized society without objective moral, but the “moral” is not liveable, without a sufficient conscience of the “natural law”.           
If we talk about divine law, without also talking about natural law, we tend to a theocratic system.
If we talk about rational moral law, without talking about natural law, such a moral, very imperative, non-motivating, becomes not liveable. We go to the libertarian explosion.               
The free and civilized society then must admit a law of objective peace and recognizes it a “natural” dimension.
This is why the laws which have the effect of removing the “natural character” of the law of objective peace are inadmissible.

The approach followed in my books consists in starting from facts concerning the war and its causes. Then we discover the necessity and the value of something we have to call a law of peace. And then, we understand that this law of peace is at the same time natural and moral. This is the way we rediscover the natural law, by an experimental way.


G: You propose a “new philosophy of decision makers”. Do you think that in matter of bioethics it could allow the decisions makers, and the public opinion, to step again into violent reality and to come back: frozen embryos, abortions, contraceptives, rejection of the weakest… to find the means to come out?


H.H. : The decision makers must come back to a fair assessment of the situations.


This will be made naturally. The disaster of the libertarian economy is obvious. But, a same transgressive and libertarian principle inspires the deregulated finance and business which ruin people, as well as the societal projects which break them down. People will end up by seeing the coherence between these transgressive principles, the deterioration of their economic situation and the senseless anthropology we want to impose them.        

As the transgressive system is more and more bad and raises an increasing opposition, it is difficult to see how it could last for a long time. The alliance of all forces that the libertarians oppress would represent a big majority.       
The law on the marriage for instance is a performance in matter of transgressiveness, but it is still a curious absurdity. Retrospectively, we will see the fatal excess which had triggered the replacement mechanism of a system at the end of its rope.   


Thus I believe in a change. The situation is pre-revolutionary almost everywhere. Within ten years, this will be another world.           
-Financially, these transgressive oligarchies are on the point of bankruptcy.         
-Economically, they have sacrificed in the West the industry, the local development and the social advances for the libertarian finance. Politically, it is a continuous denial of democracy.
-Culturally, the minority at the power believes on the Enlightenment, but it has betrayed it. A transgressive nihilism, a cunning totalitarian project, it is a philosophy of darkness without motivation or project.  We have to fight with confidence.


(1) Henri Hude is a graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure and professor of philosophy. He was a professor at the John-Paul II institute of the Lateran University. He is the author of :


– Préparer l’avenir. Nouvelle philosophie du décideur (Economica, 2012, 160 pages, 18€)


– La force de la liberté. Nouvelle philosophie du décideur (Economica, 2013, 170 pages, 18€)

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