What Do Ritalin, Steroids & The Pill Have In Common?

Dr. Leon Kass, in his St. John's, Annapolis commencement address: How Brave A New World?, argues they are all means of separating deed from doer.
I am thinking also of the need, in Winston Churchill's words, to "deserve victory," and especially to keep human life human in the dawning new age of biotechnology. The greatest moral challenges headed our way do not in fact come from hate-filled fanatics threatening death and destruction. They come rather from well meaning scientists and technologists offering life, pleasure, and enhancement.
Two eyewitnesses report there was much audience squirming during this section of the speech:
Human nature itself lies on the operating table, ready for alteration, for eugenic and psychic "enhancement," for wholesale re-design. In leading laboratories new creators are confidently amassing their powers and quietly honing their skills, while on the street their evangelists are zealously prophesying a post-human future. For anyone who cares about preserving our humanity, the time has come to pay attention.
Some transforming powers are already here. The Pill. In vitro fertilization. Bottled embryos. Surrogate wombs. Genetic screening. Genetic manipulation. Organ harvesting. Mechanical spare parts. Chimeras. Brain implants. Ritalin for the young. Viagra for the old. And, to leave this vale of tears, a little morphine accompanied by Muzak.
[big snip]

Defensible step by defensible step, we are getting used to our own transformation. To conquer infertility or to improve the genetic makeup of our children, we are becoming comfortable with turning procreation into manufacture, looking upon our children less as gifts to be treasured, more as products to be perfected. To conquer disease, we are becoming comfortable treating human embryos as a natural resource or allowing commerce in human tissues and organs, looking on embodied life not as a mystery to be respected but as a mere instrument of our will. To augment our achievements, we are becoming comfortable with drug-enhanced athletic or academic performance, accepting the divorce of deed from doer and achievement from human effort. To acquire endless lives with ageless bodies for ourselves, we are becoming comfortable ignoring the risks to our souls and the need to give way to the next generation. To the extent that we come to accept as normal what is in fact perverse, we shall have lost the ability to see how we have been diminished. Dehumanized thought paves the way for a dehumanized world.

He goes on for a bit, then:
Never mind "created in the image of God:" what humanistic view of human life or human goodness is defensible against the belief, trumpeted by biology's most public and prophetic voices, that man is just a collection of molecules, an accident on the stage of evolution, a freakish speck of mind in a mindless universe, fundamentally no different from other living --or even nonliving--things? What chance have our treasured ideas of freedom and dignity against the reductive notion of "the selfish gene," the belief that DNA is the essence of life, or the teaching that all human behavior and our rich inner life are rendered intelligible only in terms of neurochemistry or their contributions to species survival and reproductive success?
RTWT, even though it's PDF. I am reliably informed that in spite of the squirming, Kass received a standing ovation. Since when do commencement addresses provoke that kind of response? And yet he hasn't said anything not said more succinctly in Humanae Vitae, the much-mocked and maligned encyclical against contraception. Paul VI introduced the subject saying:
The question of human procreation, like every other question which touches human life, involves more than the limited aspects specific to such disciplines as biology, psychology, demography or sociology. It is the whole man and the whole mission to which he is called that must be considered....
In addition to the harm done to marriage, moral standards and respect for women the pope foresaw, he wrote:
careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.
Can you say China, India, forced sterilization in Latin America, and the policies of UNFPA & the World Bank?
Consequently, unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed. These limits are expressly imposed because of the reverence due to the whole human organism....
Seems more like a prophet every day, don't he? And isn't it interesting that the Church's concern was not to prevent people from enjoying sex, but precisely to protect their freedom in that regard? Of course Kass' point is that it doesn't even require a government to so degrade us. Thoughtlessly we will freely choose this degradation ourselves --indeed, we are choosing it-- but by "perfecting" everything, we may be destroying our very greatness. What is the value of achievement by pill or genetic manipulation? Kass leaves the kids with a ponderable:
we need to be reminded of the deep connection between our natural limitations and our highest human possibilities.

Update: This seems related: David Klinghoffer:
A Jew who believes in Judaism cannot have too many children.