It is with great honor and pleasure to have the opportunity to welcome you to the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry’s new website and to write the first of what I hope will be many blog entries from a variety of scholars and practitioners around the globe. Although I am admittedly biased, having worked with and for the JBI since January 2011, I have not found a more welcoming (albeit intellectually intimidating) gathering of individuals associated with the far-reaching field of bioethics. The founders of the JBI specifically set out to create and nurture an international community of bioethicists interested in engaging in collegial-yet-challenging dialogue about the issues that affect us all—whether as individuals or social groups, as providers or patients, as educators or students.
I believe this is exactly what the journal’s founders have produced, and I am encouraged to see the JBI continue to grow—as an entity that exists transnationally and extends beyond the bounds of “merely” an academic publication.
Following in and alongside the founders’ footsteps (as many of the them are still actively dedicated to the cause), I always look forward to the JBI’s weekly and monthly meetings of the Executive Committee and Editorial Board. These conference calls, far from an interruption in or imposition on our ever-busy lives, are essential to the development and success of any community and are (I honestly attest) always productive—whether we discuss journal tasks and issues, ask about one another’s family or upcoming vacation plans, or spontaneously begin a bioethical inquiry when someone mentions a book he just read or a case she recently oversaw.
In the modern world, it is difficult some days to remember to “stop and smell the roses”—or investigate why the roses exist or how better to make them thrive.
This—the people who are committed to continuing the conversation in respectful ways—is what makes the JBI worthwhile. And I am excited to invite you to join us and become a member of our growing community. There are opportunities for building a vast but intimate social network and working toward improving the lives of all.
For example, during my short tenure with the JBI, I have discovered mentors and made friends around the globe; found colleagues and research and writing partners; deepened my understanding of bioethics as both philosophy and practice; and broadened my “bioethics view” beyond as well as within my own culture—in ways that have, as Mary Douglas (1966) and Pierre Bourdieu (1990) suggest, made visible and knowable what often is obscured and internalized and so forgotten as social construction and history.
As our name and logo imply, we first and always attempt to participate in “ethical inquiry,” with an additional emphasis on the “bio” and understood in the broadest sense of the prefix. We endeavor to learn with and from others and, in particular, the “Other” and to question, educate, and advocate. And, most importantly, we hope to foster and change our relationships to bioethics as well as individuals and communities.
This is why the JBI adopted the “fractal” as the image adorning the journal’s jacket. Every issue thus far published has included the following perspective on bioethics on the inside cover:
The cover design features a “fractal”—a geometric shape whose parts, when magnified, approximate the structure of the whole. Fractals are infinitely detailed and they characterize the geometry of many phenomena in the natural world. The word “fractal” is derived from the Latin verb “to break” and the adjective for “irregular.” The fractal design thus represents aspects of bioethics: that it is an unending process of analysis, turbulence, and complexity.
Thus (much like our many conference calls), we want the JBI to be a place to meet.
So, welcome. This is a standing invitation to join our cooperative and participate in (bio)ethical inquiry—no matter what discipline you call home, where you reside in the world, what language you speak … or if you spell that with an “e” or an “I.”
Bourdieu, P. 1990. The logic of practice. Trans. R. Nice. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Originally published as Le sens pratique (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1980).
Douglas, M. 1966. Purity and danger: An analysis of concepts of pollution and taboo. New York: Praeger.