From reverence for life to bioethics: Albert Schweitzer, a bioethics precursor


  • José Roberto Goldim
  • Marcia Santana Fernandes


Precursor only exists, as a precursor, when related to recognized and posterior author. In terms

of thoughts, a precursor didn’t precede, he coexist. One marvelous example of coexistence is

Albert Schweitzer and Fritz Jahr. Jahr is not a Potter precursor; he coined Bioethics as a word.

Jahr is the founder. He made a rupture in the history of Ethics, when he proposed the Bioethics

Imperative. I will present some highlights related to Bioethics, in the vast and diverse

intellectual production of Albert Schweitzer. Th e Ethics of the Reverence for Life, fi rst coined

in a sermon in 1919, is based in Virtue Ethics. Reverence for Life is another kind of love, as

a virtue. Reverence for Life is beyond self-sacrifi ce, self-fulfi llment and self-improvement, is

a creative force related to civilization. In 1923, in a magnifi cent book is – Civilization and

Ethics – Albert Schweitzer described his proposal in details. In an article, published in 1936

he consolidated his thoughts about humanity, civilization, ethics, life and living. We must

recognize the importance of Albert Schweitzer in the history of Bioethics.