The Interruption That We Are
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In a world of ever-increasing medical technology, a study of the need for wisdom, truth, and public moral argument

In this provocative and interdisciplinary work, Michael J. Hyde develops a philosophy of communication ethics in which the practice of rhetoric plays a fundamental role in promoting and maintaining the health of our personal and communal existence. He examines how the force of interruption—the universal human capacity to challenge our complacent understanding of existence—is a catalyst for moral reflection and moral behavior.

Hyde begins by reviewing the role of interruption in the history of the West, from the Big Bang to biblical figures to classical Greek and contemporary philosophers and rhetoricians to three modern thinkers: Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, and Emmanuel Levinas. These thinkers demonstrate in various ways that interruption is not simply a heuristic tool, but constitutive of being human. After developing a critical assessment of these thinkers, Hyde offers four case studies in public moral argument that illustrate the applicability of his findings regarding our interruptive nature. These studies feature a patient suffering from heart disease, a disability rights activist defending her personhood, a young woman dying from brain cancer who must justify her decision, against staunch opposition, to opt for medical aid in dying, and the benefits and burdens of what is termed our "posthuman future" with its accelerating achievements in medical science and technology. These improvements are changing the nature of the interruption that we are, yet the wisdom of such progress has yet to be determined. Much more public moral argument is required.

Hyde's philosophy of communication ethics not only calls for the cultivation of wisdom but also promotes the fight for truth, which is essential to the livelihood of democracy.



Publié par
Date de parution 10 septembre 2018
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781611177084
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,2650€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


The Interruption That We Are
Studies in Rhetoric/Communication Thomas W. Benson, Series Editor
The Interruption That We Are
The Health of the Lived Body, Narrative, and Public Moral Argument

2018 University of South Carolina
Published by the University of South Carolina Press
Columbia, South Carolina 29208
27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
can be found at .
ISBN: 978-1-61117-707-7 (hardback)
ISBN: 978-1-61117-708-4 (ebook)
Front cover photograph by Bobette Hendricks
For Dr. Ralph Webb Jr., my M.A and Ph.D. director, whose support and wisdom were a blessing
CHAPTER 1 . The First Interruption
CHAPTER 2 . Existence and the Self
CHAPTER 3 . Existence and the Other
CHAPTER 4 . The Right Word
CHAPTER 5 . The Self as Other, the Other as Self
CHAPTER 6 . A Good Showing of a Bad Situation
CHAPTER 7 . Our Posthuman Future
Series Editor s Preface
In The Interruption That We Are , Michael J. Hyde confronts the annoyance of being interrupted and turns it on itself to notice that interruption is the condition of our being, mirrored in the interruption that we are, inviting us to see our interrupted and interruptive experience as requiring us to cultivate eloquence in public moral argument.
Professor Hyde shows us how the most mundane, everyday experience of interruption can lead us to a human quest for understanding of how interruption defines our condition as humans-in religion ( In the beginning ), science, philosophy, medical ethics, and rhetoric.
Hyde invokes and critically reads the Judeo-Christian biblical tradition, and the philosophical writings of S ren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, and Emmanuel Levinas, before turning to a series of case studies of public moral argument. A patient suffering from heart disease receives an experimental artificial heart, a case in which scientific medicine, a mechanical device, and a rhetoric of heroic perfection seem to challenge the human narrative of suffering and dignity thus interrupted. Hyde narrates the case of disability rights activist and attorney Harriet McBryde Johnson, who was born with a degenerative neuromuscular disease, and examines her debate with Princeton philosophy professor Peter Singer, whose theories of eugenics would, had they been applied, almost certainly have ended Johnson s life before it began. How could these two beings possibly talk with each other? But they did, and, though neither compromised, Hyde finds in their debate and in Singer s obituary for Johnson an acknowledgment that, in Hyde s estimation, manages to find the right words even without compromising. Brittany Maynard, diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, chose to die by medically assisted suicide, leaving behind a testamentary video describing her choice. The video and the public response when it was placed online constitute a moment of public moral argument between Maynard and Kara Tippetts, who herself later died of cancer without resorting to medically assisted euthanasia. A final chapter scouts our prospects in a posthuman future.
In The Interruption That We Are , Michael Hyde displays an experience deeply rooted in day-to-day human existence and in his years of observation and interaction with the practices of medicine and the lives of patients. He develops a conscientious attention to the circumstances and the words of human moral argument about life and death matters, with a scrupulous responsibility to the philosophical tradition, to the claims and virtues of competing arguments, and to the necessity for judgment. Our privilege as readers of The Interruption That We Are is to be spectators, students, and beneficiaries of this master teacher.
It was one of those days. Too many interruptions. I hadn t slept well the night before, waking up numerous times feeling exhausted. My writing was hitting road blocks. I was going to be late for an early morning meeting. I had a minor disagreement with my wife. I couldn t find my car keys. I couldn t find a parking place at the university. I dropped my books and computer on the pavement when I exited the car. When I reached my office I found a voicemail that indicated that I had to attend an emergency research meeting at the medical school after my classes. My undergraduate and graduate seminar did not go as smoothly as I had planned. A meeting with one of my thesis advisees was less than rewarding. By the time I returned home from the medical school, I was exhausted. Indeed, too many interruptions. And then the phone rang. Another interruption. It was a friend with good news. I felt much better. The next day was a joy. No interruptions. Wrong!
We are creatures who are capable of knowingly interrupting the order of things so that we might better understand the order of things. With the present book, I do just that: interrupt readers typical way of understanding the nature, scope, and function of interruption. I maintain that interruption is an essential feature of human existence; without the presence of interruption in our lives, we would not be the creatures that we are. In fact, we would not be at all. My assessment of the interruption that we are includes a discussion of its proposed origins, how it forms the existential basis of the health of our lived bodies, how our health is affected when interruptions expose us to the interruption that we are, how the rhetorical construction of narratives provides a way of dealing with the consequences of this exposure, and how these narratives inform instances of public moral argument. The extent of the exposure is dependent on how significant the interruptions are to the health of the lived body. Disaster is always a possibility; the interruption that we are exhibits a destructive and defeatist impulse. Our interruptive nature, however, also exhibits a productive and perfective impulse. The health of the lived body benefits from this function. The rhetorical construction of narratives lends advantage to the function. The benefits extend to others when we use our narratives to help them sustain and improve the health of their lived bodies. I offer a series of case studies in public moral argument that provide concrete illustrations of this ethical, rhetorical, and therapeutic activity.
My assessment of interruption continues my interest in developing a philosophy of communication ethics dedicated to promoting and maintaining our personal and communal well-being. The central phenomena that have so far structured this philosophy include conscience, acknowledgment, the rhetorical creation of discursive openings in interpersonal relationships, and perfection. 1 Interruption plays a role in my investigations of all of these phenomena. The reader who is familiar with my work will see similarities between what I say about interruption in these investigations and what I say about its status in the present project. The similarities serve the goals of ensuring coherency in my ongoing assessment of the topic and facilitating an awareness of differences that mark my past and present treatment of interruption. The similarities are foundational. The differences are both foundational and extensive.
By the time the reader finishes reviewing the introduction, he or she will see clearly that the status I grant interruption qualifies as positing a worldview: a narrative that suggests a way of seeing and interpreting reality. A narrative is a story. I am composing a narrative that tells a story about interruption. The essential elements of these communicative and rhetorical devices are present. A Theme: interruption as an essential feature of existence that incites distress and demise, joy and progress, and discourse. Characters: especially with the case studies there are many, including myself. Settings: as many as there are characters. Conflict: found in the narratives and stories offered by the characters. Plot: the presence of interruption in our lives, how it affects the health of the lived body and encourages the enactment of rhetorical competence, and what will become of the lived body as we increase the life-changing power of interruption. 2
One final prefatory note. The whole time I was composing my story, I had the following therapeutic words of the philosopher Georges Gusdorf next to my computer. The words speak to the importance of communication, rhetoric, and the health of the lived body: The decision to express marks the threshold between the passivity of eating one s heart out and creative activity. To speak, to write, to express is to act, to survive crisis, to begin living again, even when one thinks it is only to relive one s sorrow. Expression is a kind of exorcism because it crystallizes the resolve not to let oneself go. 3 The insight offered me nerve and encouragement. I have not always been successful when interruptions brought me face to face with the interruption that we are. The wrong rhetoric was at work. I know more than a few people who can identify with the situation. All of the case studies included in my story raise ethical issues associated with the health of the lived body. I have no doubt that, depending on their stance regarding these issues, readers will find wrong rhetoric at work in some of these cases. Disagreements, of course, still can have educational value. Dealing successfully with the interruption that we are requires stamina and know-how. The interruption never lets up. The health of the lived body is never guarante

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