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Pastoral AestheticsA Theological Perspective on Principlist Bioethics$
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Nathan Carlin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190270148

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190270148.001.0001

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Nonmaleficence and the Circus Clown

Nonmaleficence and the Circus Clown

(p.60) 3 Nonmaleficence and the Circus Clown
Pastoral Aesthetics

Nathan Carlin

Oxford University Press

The focus of this chapter is on nonmaleficence. Part one begins by providing an overview of the principle and then reviews a classic case in bioethics on abortion to illustrate how the principle is often understood. The discussion also draws on poetry to intimate that moral issues beyond decision-making are relevant to abortion. Part two offers a discussion of Heije Faber’s pastoral image of the circus clown to set the stage for opening up another way of looking at nonmaleficence. The essential feature of Faber’s image for the purposes of this chapter is that it provides a theological rationale for appreciating humor in the hospital. In part three, the author correlates nonmaleficence and the circus clown by using an essay by Sigmund Freud on humor to interpret select passages from scenes from two pathographies. The chapter argues that a pastoral perspective on nonmaleficence can help to mitigate harm stemming from idolatry.

Keywords:   nonmaleficence, circus clown, Heije Faber, humor, Sigmund Freud, pathography, idolatry

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