Tradition and Discovery: The Polanyi Society Periodical

Volume 23, Issue 2, 1996/1997

Paul Lewis
Pages 5-14

Polanyian Reflections on Embodiment, the Human Genome Initiative and Theological Anthropology

The Human Genome Initiative represents an ambitious attempt to map the genetic structure of the human species (an estimated 100,00 genes). The project has generated a vast amount of theological and ethical literature, none of which discusses the impact of the project on understandings of embodiment. This gap is surprising since Michael Polanyi and, more recently, feminist thinkers have argued that embodiment is central to human existence. I argue that theologians and scientist can teach one another some important lessons about embodiment by exploring some of the literature produced by the project and the anthropologies of Karl Rahner, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Stanley Hauerwas and James McClendon.