Protestant traditions of the Backgrounds of Bioethics. Part 2

(Tr. from German and Notes by Ganna Hubenko)


  • Hans-Martin Sass Ruhr-Universität



Fritz Jar, bioethics, bioethical imperative, categorical imperative, geo-ethical imperative


Term and concept of bioethics (Bio-Ethik) originally were developed by Fritz Jahr, a Protestant Pastor in Halle an der Saale in 1927, long before  the period, when bioethics in the modern sense was recreated in the US in 1970s and since that time has spread globally. Jahr’s bioethical imperative, influenced by Christian and humanist traditions from Assisi to Schopenhauer and by Buddhist philosophy holds its own position against Kant’s anthropological imperative and against dogmatic Buddhist reasoning: ‘Respect each living being as an end in itself and treat it, if possible, as such’. Jahr interprets the 5th Commandment ‘Thou shall not kill’ offensively and liberally as ‘common morality’ which includes the obligation of caring for one’s own health, public health and health education within the wider framework of a universal bioethical Sittengesetz.

In the article-translation the actual contemporary thoughts about the bioethical imperative, which serves not only the object of interdisciplinary study, but also the practical approach to acquiring responsibility and environmental image of thinking, are found. Didactic considerations of Yahr go beyond the paternalistic upbringing, they point to the content and methodological purpose of teaching ethics to ethical discourse. According to Yahr, ethics does not regulate philosophical, theological or political knowledge, does not act as a dictatorship of a way of behavior. Ethics is the conduct of discussions, the culture of discussion and communication. Following the philosophy of Yahr, Professor Hans-Martin Zass formulated the geo-ethical imperative: "Respect the Mother Earth and all natural life as it is, for which the responsible person is an end in itself, and get around as much as possible in this way!". In respect for all living things, there is a relationship between man and animals, plants, nature, including the health systems, educational-informational and research organizations. Pastor Fritz Jahr, who had no immediate influence during his times, built a strong first Protestant foundation for contemporary theological and ethical concepts in medical ethics, bioethics, and environmental ethics.

Author Biography

Hans-Martin Sass, Ruhr-Universität

Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Institut für Philosophie, Ruhr-Universität, GA3, D44780 Bochum, Germany


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How to Cite

Sass, H.-M. (2018). Protestant traditions of the Backgrounds of Bioethics. Part 2: (Tr. from German and Notes by Ganna Hubenko). Filosofiya Osvity. Philosophy of Education, 22(1), 199–210.






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