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Natural or Unnatural—An Application of the Taoist Thought to Bioethics

Michael Cheng-Tek Tai

College of Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan

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The rapid progress of biotechnology has enabled physicians to substantially prolong a patient's life through the aid of life-sustaining systems. Is life supported by manmade devises natural or unnatural? If unnatural, is the huge amount of money spent justifiable? How would a practitioner of Taoism, who regards artificiality as evil, feel about all the new biotechnologies that utilize machines to save a person's life? This article depicts the Taoist teachings and argues that if unnatural measures are used to restore a person's natural ability to function, the unnatural measures become the vehicles to affirm life, and are thus ethical and justifiable.


Artificiality; Naturalness; Tao; Yin and yang


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