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The Interruption That We Are

The Health of the Lived Body, Narrative, and Public Moral Argument

Michael J. Hyde



Published: Sep 10 2018


Published: Sep 10 2018

OA Ebook
Published: Sep 10 2018


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

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.

Michale J. Hyde is the University Distinguished Professor of Communication Ethics in the Department of Communication at Wake Forest University, where he serves on the faculty of the Program in Bioethics, Health, and Society in the School of Medicine. He is a distinguished scholar of the National Communication Association and a fellow of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation

"With an abundance of striking theoretical insights about the health of the lived body, and a captivating series of case studies in public moral argument, Michael Hyde eloquently tells the tale of the interplay between the phenomena of interruption and perfection. Hyde's book is a praiseworthy project warranting careful attention."—Ronald C. Arnett, Patricia Doherty Yoder and Ronald Wolfe Endowed Chair in Communication Ethics, Duquesne University

"In the Interruption That We Are, Hyde extends the call of conscience to the seminal question of what kind of posthumans we might become. The result is a passionate, optimistic, and brave book that reveals the many ways in which life is not only saturated by interruption but is itself an interruption. Hyde alerts us to both the majestic possibilities and the unnerving dangers of posthuman transcendence. This is one of those rare books that stimulates your mind, touches your heart, and arouses your soul."—Arthur P. Bochner, Distinguished University Professor of Communication, University of South Florida

"With narrative finesse, philosophical dexterity, and a finely honed rhetorical sensibility, Michael Hyde weaves together insights from philosophy, rhetoric, religion, illness narratives, and ethics into a profound meditation on the moral power of the 'interruptions that we are' and the utility of narratives in thinking and arguing in this posthuman time. His book marks a compelling next step in developing his research and teaching programs in communication ethics."—Lisa B. Keränen, associate professor of communication, University of Colorado Denver

"Michael Hyde analyzes how interruption is an essential feature of human existence, enabling a rhetorical construction of narratives that illustrate the ambiguities in our personal and social lives. Hyde's detailed examination of the phenomenon provides a creative consolidation of the major topics in his previous publications including the call of conscience, openings, acknowledgement, and perfection."—Calvin O. Schrag, George Ade Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Purdue University

Winner of the National Communication Association's Philosophy of Communication Division Book Award
Winner of the National Communication Association's Communication Ethics Division Book Award

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