Leon Kass

Leon Kass

Leon R. Kass is the Madden-Jewett Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Originally trained in medicine (M.D., Chicago, 1962) and biochemistry (Ph.D., Harvard, 1967), he shifted directions from doing science to thinking about its human meaning, and he has been engaged for 45 years with ethical and philosophical issues raised by biomedical advance, and, more recently, with broader moral and cultural issues. He taught at St. John’s College (Annapolis) and Georgetown University before returning in 1976 to the University of Chicago where he was until 2010 an award-winning teacher deeply involved in undergraduate education and committed to the study of classic texts. With his wife, Amy Kass, he helped found a still-popular core humanities course on “Human Being and Citizen” and a degree-granting major, “Fundamentals: Issues and Texts,” emphasizing big questions and great books. His books include: The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature; Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying (with Amy A. Kass); Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics; The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis; and What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song (with Amy A. Kass and Diana Schaub). Dr. Kass served on the National Council on the Humanities of the National Endowment for the Humanities; in 2009 he delivered the Jefferson Lecture for the NEH. From 2001-2005, he was Chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, which, under his direction, produced seven books on topics ranging from human cloning to biotechnical enhancement to the care of the elderly. In 2003, Leon Kass was one of four inaugural recipients of the Bradley Prize.