From Clinic to Classroom: Medical Ethics and Moral Education

By Howard B. Radest | Go to book overview
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Whose Story Is It?


When we tell stories, we are on the way to "thinking with cases" but we are not there yet. Stories are seductive. They invite us into a world that seems real enough -- we forget it's "only" a story -- and yet they are artifacts of imagination and point of view. Beneath the surface, the distinction between fiction and nonfiction is often elusive. And it was just this tempting mixture of appearance and reality that led Plato, despite his traditionalism, to banish poets from the Republic. Stories are dangerous, and not just because they "picture the gods falsely." Stories describe a what-is but they pretend to be what-is. As such, they substitute one world for another without warning us that they are doing so. Everything we see, read, or hear comes to us without confessing its selectivity, perspective, belief system.1 As the recurrence of revisionist histories, the revivals of great drama, and the longevity of classical and biblical epics remind us, we tell and retell stories for different ends and from within changing moments. Stories reflect the passage of time and taste, exhibit shifting styles, interests, and values. Typically, however, this partiality is hidden. Stories may serve as escape or excuse, as revelation or obfuscation, but it is not always clear what is escaped and what is revealed. Stories, more often than not, reveal the teller and the told-to as much as they reveal alternate worlds, mirror worlds. The story line is not necessarily the story. Plot can usually be summed up in a paragraph or two, as tens of thousands of high school English students have discovered in cramming


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From Clinic to Classroom: Medical Ethics and Moral Education


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