In a critical intervention into the bioethics debate over human enhancement, philosopher Melinda Hall tackles the claim that the expansion and development of human capacities is a moral obligation. Hall draws on French philosopher Michel Foucault to reveal and challenge the ways disability is central to the conversation. The Bioethics of Enhancement includes a close reading and analysis of the last century of enhancement thinking and contemporary transhumanist thinkers, the strongest promoters of the obligation to pursue enhancement technology. With specific (...) attention to the work of bioethicists Nick Bostrom and Julian Savulescu, the book challenges the rhetoric and strategies of enhancement thinking. These include the desire to transcend the body and decide who should live in future generations through emerging technologies such as genetic selection. Hall provides new analyses rethinking both the philosophy of enhancement and disability, arguing that enhancement should be a matter of social and political interventions, not genetic and biological interventions. Hall concludes that human vulnerability and difference should be cherished rather than extinguished. -/- This book will be of interest to academics working in bioethics and disability studies, along with those working in Continental philosophy (especially on Foucault). (shrink)
I examine the ways in which the theological and philosophical debate surrounding transhumanism might profit by a detailed engagement with contemporary biology, in particular with the mainline accounts of species and speciation. After a short introduction, I provide a very brief primer on species concepts and speciation in contemporary biological taxonomy. Then in a third section I draw out some implications for the prospects of our being able intentionally to intervene in human evolution for the production of new species (...) out of Homo sapiens. In a fourth section Account of Human Nature? And Where Does This Leave Transhumanism?”) I bring in the debate over the proper relationship between biological and theological conceptions of human nature, laying out the major options available and considering their possible implications for our understanding of transhumanism. In a fifth section several concrete examples are drawn out pertaining to particular subdisciplines within theology. I conclude by briefly laying out some suggestions for future work, focusing on tasks that theologians specifically ought to pursue. (shrink)
Biomedical engineering technologies such as brain–machine interfaces and neuroprosthetics are advancements which assist human beings in varied ways. There are exciting yet speculative visions of how the neurosciences and bioengineering may influence human nature. However, these could be preparing a possible pathway towards an enhanced and even posthuman future. This article seeks to investigate several ethical themes and wider questions of enhancement, transhumanism and posthumanism. Four themes of interest are: autonomy, identity, futures, and community. Three larger questions can be (...) asked: will everyone be enhanced? Will we be “human” if we are not, one day, transhuman? Should we be enhanced or not? The article proceeds by concentrating on a widespread and sometimes controversial application: the cochlear implant, an auditory prosthesis implanted into Deaf patients. Cochlear implantation and its reception in both the deaf and hearing communities have a distinctive moral discourse, which can offer surprising insights. The paper begins with several points about the enhancement of human beings, transhumanism’s reach beyond the human, and posthuman aspirations. Next it focuses on cochlear implants on two sides. Firstly, a shorter consideration of what technologies may do to humans in a transhumanist world. Secondly, a deeper analysis of cochlear implantation’s unique socio-political movement, its ethical explanations and cultural experiences linked with pediatric cochlear implantation—and how those wary of being thrust towards posthumanism could marshal such ideas by analogy. As transhumanism approaches, the issues and questions merit continuing intense analysis. (shrink)
In the second half of the twentieth century, humanism— namely, the worldview that underpinned Western thought for several centuries—has been severely critiqued by philosophers who highlighted its theoretical and ethical limitations. Inspired by the emergence of cybernetics and new technologies such as robotics, prosthetics, communications, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and nanotechnology, there has been a desire to articulate a new worldview that will fit the posthuman condition. Posthumanism is a description of a new form of human existence in which the (...) boundaries between humans and nature and humans and machines are blurred, as well as a prescription for an ideal situation in which the limitations of human biology are transcended, replaced by machines. The transition from the human condition to the posthuman condition will be facilitated by transhumanism, the project of human enhancement that will ultimately yield the transformation of the human species from the human to the posthuman. As an intellectual movement, transhumanism is still very small, but transhumanist ideas exert deep and broad influence on contemporary culture and society. This essay highlights the religious dimension of transhumanism and argues that it should be seen as a secularist faith: transhumanism secularizes traditional religious themes, concerns, and goals, while endowing technology with religious significance. Science‐Religion Studies is the most appropriate context to explore the cultural significance of transhumanism. (shrink)
Transhumanism, the belief that technology can transcend the limitations of the human body and brain, is part of the family of Enlightenment philosophies. As such, transhumanism has also inherited the internal tensions and contradictions of the broad Enlightenment tradition. First, the project of Reason is self-erosive and requires irrational validation. Second, although most transhumanists are atheist, their belief in the transcendent power of intelligence generates new theologies. Third, although most transhumanists are liberal democrats, their belief in human perfectibility (...) and governance by reason can validate technocratic authoritarianism. Fourth, transhumanists are divided on the balance between democracy and the market. Fifth, teleological expectations of unstoppable progress are in tension with awareness of the indeterminacy of the future. Sixth, transhumanists are divided between advocates of ethical universalism and ethical relativism. Seventh, the rational materialist denial of discrete persistent selves calls into question the transhumanist project of individual longevity and enhancement. (shrink)
Bostrom rejects Nietzsche as an ancestor of the transhumanist movement, as he claims that there were merely some “surface-level similarities with the Nietzschean vision” (Bostrom 2005a, 4). In contrast to Bostrom, I think that significant similarities between the posthuman and the overhuman can be found on a fundamental level. In addition, it seems to me that Nietzsche explained the relevance of the overhuman by referring to a dimension which seems to be lacking in transhumanism. In order to explain my (...) position, I will progress as follows. First, I will compare the concept of the posthuman to that of Nietzsche’s overhuman, focusing more on their similarities than their differences. Second, I will contextualise the overhuman in Nietzsche’s general vision, so that I can point out which dimension seems to me to be lacking in transhumanist thought. (shrink)
Transhumanism, the movement that promotes radical enhancement by non-traditional means based in scientific and technological advances, has contributed to contemporary interest in Nietzsche’s philosophy. In this paper, we are going to claim that transhumanists’ references to Nietzsche’s philosophy are unfounded. Moreover, we will make a few remarks about Nietzsche’s ethical doctrine in order to show that his conception of enhancement, contrary to transhumanist conceptions, relies on traditional means, such as upbringing and education. Although Nietzsche’s positive ethical doctrines cannot be (...) used to justify transhumanist goals, his critique of morality can be used as a critique of the transhumanist conceptions of human enhancement. (shrink)
This paper examines the responses to advanced and transformative technologies in military literature, attenuates the conclusions of earlier work suggesting that there is an “ignorance of transhumanism” in the military, and updates the current layout of transhuman concerns in military thought. The military is not ignorant of transhuman issues and implications, though there was evidence for this in the past; militaries and non-state actors increasingly use disruptive technologies with what we may call transhuman provenance.
Purpose. The research is aimed at finding out the grounds, forms and essence of the correlation between the projects of information philosophy and transhumanism from the point of view of the problematics of philosophical anthropology. Attention is focused on the status of the knowing subject and the transformations of the forms of its activity within the specified correlation. Theoretical basis. Insufficient thinking on the issue of the functioning of traditional cognitive models, in particular Kant’s transcendental questioning, which formed the (...) basis of modern rationality and classical science, in the new sociocultural reality led the authors to problematize the forms and essence of interaction and operating with knowledge and communication in the information sphere of human existence and communication. A comparative consideration of the worldviews in the information philosophy and transhumanism projects, made on the basis of a study of current scientific literature, provided an opportunity to assume the probability of implicit elimination of the problems of philosophical anthropology from the horizon of meanings of modern science through the blurring of essentially anthropological analytics. Originality. The article proves the ambivalent nature of the correlation between the projects of philosophy and transhumanism information that are externally close on the subject and problematics, and for the first time in the domestic literature, they have been compared. The content of the powerful potential of information philosophy for the development of philosophical anthropology approaches to the phenomena of the human world determined by the technological nature of civilization and the powerful sociocultural issues of modernity have been clarified. The threats of the dehumanization of the problem field in the modern science and spheres of applied digital technologies associated with transhumanism, interpreted as an ideology, are underlined. Conclusions. The analysis of theoretical positions relevant for the philosophy of information and transhumanism resulted in a number of conclusions, central among which is the statement of the "blurring" situation, the hidden elimination in the content of problematics of philosophical anthropology and its humanistic pathos within the limits of modern forms of correlation and existence in the scientific discourse of the philosophemes and ideologemes in the information philosophy and transhumanism. Epistemological phenomena of "cognitive closure" and a man as a "blind spot" in the thinking on the science and technology development, primarily communication, indicate the relevance of a full comprehensive consideration of the problems of philosophical anthropology in projects of the information philosophy and transhumanism. (shrink)
In Sorgner's 2009 paper "Nietzsche, the Overhuman, and Transhumanism", he argues, contra Bostrom, that the transhumanist movement's postman is fundamentally similar to Nietzsche's overman. In this paper, Sorgner's thesis is challenged. It is argued that transhumanism, as presented both popularly and academically, is fundamentally incompatible with Nietzsche's overman, as presented in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. This argument focuses on three significant characteristics's of Zarathustra's description of the overman: the role of earthly existence, immortality, and the rejection of collective values.
Conservative thinkers such as Francis Fukuyama have produced a battery of objections to the transhumanist project of fundamentally enhancing human capacities. This article examines one of these objections, namely that by allowing some to greatly extend their capacities, we will undermine the fundamental moral equality of human beings. I argue that this objection is groundless: once we understand the basis for human equality, it is clear that anyone who now has sufficient capacities to count as a person from the moral (...) point of view will continue to count as one even if others are fundamentally enhanced; and it is mistaken to think that a creature which had even far greater capacities than an unenhanced human being should count as more than an equal from the moral point of view. (shrink)
The worldwide transhumanist movement upgrades technological hopes and expectations to a level of religious fervor. When looking through the eyes of the public theologian, we see in H+ a disguised religion replete with faith in techno-salvation and even immortality. This is unrealistic. Apologetic theologians can offer the wider public a more realistic assessment of technology's potential while providing genuine hope in a future vision based on divine promise.
We explain how the work of Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914) – the founder of semiotics and of the pragmatist tradition in philosophy – contributes an epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical foundation to some key transhumanist ideas, including the following claims: technological cognitive enhancement is not only possible but a present reality; pursuing more sweeping cognitive enhancements is epistemically rational; and current humans should try to evolve themselves into posthumans. On Peirce’s view, the fundamental aim of inquiry is truth, understood in terms (...) of a stage of ideal cognition (what he calls the “final opinion”). As current human cognitive abilities are insufficient to achieve this stage, Peirce’s views on cognition support a variety of ways in which they might be enhanced. Finally, we argue that what Peirce describes as our ethical summum bonum seems remarkably similar to what Bostrom (2005) argues to be the core transhumanist value: “the exploration of the posthuman realm.”. (shrink)
This paper argues that one can advocate a moral imperative to pursue enhancement technologies while at the same time rejecting the historical reality of progress and holding a pessimistic view of the future. The first half of the paper puts forth several arguments for why progress is illusory and why one has good reason to be pessimistic about the future of humanity (and posthumanity). The second half then argues that this is entirely consistent with also championing the futurological vision of (...)transhumanism. The claim is that, relative to the alternatives proposed, this vision actually offers the safest route into the future, even if it also entails an increase in the probability of self-annihilation. (shrink)
Personhood is an extensively discussed theme in contemporary African philosophy, which has taken metaphysical, epistemological and normative dimensions. In Western philosophical traditions, discourse on personhood is transmuting to debates on transhumanism. Missing in the African philosophical literature is consideration of transhumanism and an explication of the relationship between personhood and transhumanism. In this article, I critically examine the relationship between personhood and transhumanism in an African context. Drawing on Barry Hallen’s African metaphysical account of personhood and (...) Thaddeus Metz’s Afro-communal normative conception of personhood, I argue that while some transhumanist elements are embedded in African normative and ontological conceptions of personhood, some others are not. In the final analysis, I defend an Afrofuturistic account of personhood that is compatible with some censored essentials of transhumanism in African thoughts. Keywords : Personhood, Transhumanism, Barry Hallen, Thaddeus Metz, Africa, Yoruba. (shrink)
This interview with Roland Benedikter, the European scholar of technology futures and politics, discusses the emergence of biological and computing technologies for transforming humanity. In this wide-ranging discussion, Benedikter discusses many ethical, social, and political implications to the application of these enhancing technologies and their coming political implications. Transhumanism, according to Benedikter, will represent both a powerful social ideology and a serious political agenda. How will humanism respond?
Technological dystopias incarnate transhumanist dreams of a this-worldly blissful immortality. Underlying these and others is a globalized technocratic paradigm, the loss of an overarching cosmic world view, rise in consumerism, a gnostic repudiation of the body, and a neo-pelagian aspiration to individualistic self-sufficiency. One response to these transhumanist dreams is to remind ourselves of how nature actually works, its origins, constrains, and future. Our relationship with nature spills over to how we feel standing face-to-face with pain and suffering. In this (...) article I reframe cancer as a journey of maintaining harmony with nature instead of a war against death that we are destined to lose. I argue that understanding the limits and constraints of the natural world help us come to peace with the reality of cancer, and perhaps find meaning in suffering. Instead of avoiding the inevitable at all costs, vulnerability and suffering have their own lessons. In contrast to trans humanist dreams, being human presents an opportunity to welcome the reality of imperfection, to be liberated from our addiction to control and excessive technological manipulation of nature, to draw together as a community, and to live the lessons of each stage of our finite life to its fullest. I hope this reflection, grounded in scientific literature and engaging with richly embodied medical humanities readings, can help us all change how we relate to cancer, from books to bench to biotech to bedside. (shrink)
Transhumanism conceives itself as the next phase of humanism, postulating to leave behind most of its allegedly outdated features and paradigms. To that purpose, transhumanism has recently developed its own philosophy to get to a concrete social ideology, on which political action can be based. This philosophy has been first concentrated in the best-selling book “The Transhumanist Wager”. We discuss the basic elements of the social philosophy of transhumanism in its attempt to overcome traditional humanism both in (...) the social sphere and in politics, including the innovative elements and the contradictions inbuilt in its current self-concept and thought. (shrink)
In recent years, it was notorious the presence of a persistent interpretation of the political field in terms that find in the notion of crisis its main narrative. In order to assess this historical sensitivity ―which is an effect of the rupture of the grand narrative of progress― the analysis of Janet Roitman has been particularly relevant. Her critical perspective on this historical matrix is based on her assumption that such sensitivity leads to a strong paralysis in terms of political (...) agency, mainly through its claim of being the same incarnation of moments of truth. The central aim of this paper is to challenge this interpretation of the narrative of crisis as a case of post-historical meaning through the analysis of the transhumanist philosophy as deployed by Nick Bostrom. It is thanks to the scrutiny of the affective dimension involved in this sort of historical meaning focused in the role played by anxiety, that is possible to explore the kind of agency that may result from this framework. (shrink)
Целью статьи является идентификация религиозного фактора в учении трансгуманизма, определение его роли в идеологии этого течения мысли и выявление возможных пределов вмешательства технологий в природу человека. Теоретический базис. Методологической основой статьи являются идеи трансгуманизма. Научная новизна. Роботы смогут в обозримом будущем пройти тест Тьюринга, стать "электронными личностями" и получить политические права, хотя вопрос о возможности машинного сознания и самосознания остается открытым. В лице роботов человечество создает себе помощников, эволюционную конкуренцию с которыми при исходных данных оно почти наверняка проиграет. Для успешной (...) конкуренции с роботами людям придется измениться, перестав быть людьми в классическом понимании. Изменение природы человека требует появления новой – постчеловеческой – антропологии. Выводы. На фоне научных открытий, технических прорывов и бытовых усовершенствований последних десятилетий наметился антропологический переворот, обусловивший возможность ставить задачи создания нечеловечески разумных существ, а также изменения человеческой природы вплоть до обсуждения вариантов искусственного бессмертия. История человека заканчивается и начинается история постчеловека. Свернуть с этого пути мы уже не можем, тем не менее, в наших силах сохранить свои человеческие качества в постчеловеческом будущем. Тема души снова о себе напомнила, но уже в ином ракурсе – как тема сознания и самосознания. Она стала вновь актуальной в связи с развитием компьютерных и облачных технологий, технологий искусственного интеллекта и т.д. Если машина когда-нибудь станет "человеком", то не может ли и человек стать "машиной"? Впрочем, даже в случае, если такая гипотетическая вероятность превратится в реальность, говорить о какой-либо форме индивидуального бессмертия или о продолжении существования в иной физической форме не приходится. Цифровая копия души все равно останется копией, и я не вижу принципиальных возможностей выделить из тела человека субстратно-независимый разум. Само же бессмертие необходимо не столько для купирования чьих-то страхов или поощрения чьих-то надежд, сколько для окончательного решения религиозного вопроса. Однако боги крепко держат ключи от небес и едва ли допустят туда наших модифицированных потомков. (shrink)
This essay is a reflection on our lived experience of being human, or of some prominent aspects of being human, in light of rising demands to use already existing and soon to be developed technologies to fundamentally change what we are. The aspects the essay focuses on are, first, our existential vulnerability and, second, our desire to live a life that, in some way or another, matters and is in that sense meaningful.
El transhumanismo es una moda intelectual que propone la transformación de los seres humanos mediante diversas tecnologías. Expondremos brevemente los rasgos más conspicuos del TH, así como las principales críticas que se le han hecho. Pero la intención de este artículo no es entrar en esta polémica; aportaremos tan solo las claves imprescindibles para poder seguir adelante. Y una de las claves más intrigantes del TH es que, por debajo de su pátina tecno-futurista, remite a ciertas ideas filosóficas tan viejas (...) como, en apariencia, incompatibles entre sí. El TH remite al naturalismo radical, tanto como al nihilismo existencialista. La tesis que aquí se defiende es que tanto el naturalismo radical como el nihilismo existencialista son producto de las diversas oleadas del dualismo: del dualismo platónico antiguo, del dualismo cartesiano moderno. Una vez que separamos, a la manera dualista, la libertad por un lado y la naturaleza por el otro, podemos contar hasta dos, como hacen los dualistas, o quedarnos solo en uno, como hacen los existencialistas, que se paran en la libertad, y los naturalistas, que solo cuentan con la naturaleza. En cualquier caso, la imagen del ser humano, que es libertad y naturaleza, sale dañada. Asoma entonces el animal aporético y enfermizo al cual hay que salvar… de sí mismo. ¿Cómo? Siguiendo el método de Procusto, pero ahora con los prefijos bio e info en lugar de sierra y martillo. Hasta que el pobre ser humano encaje en el lecho de la utopía que algunos visionarios han urdido. ¿Y no hay otra vía, otra forma de mejorar la vida humana que sea más respetuosa para con la humana envergadura? Quizá sí, mas para trazar esa tercera vía, entre el naturalismo radical que mutila y el nihilismo existencialista que descoyunta y estira, habría que negar de antemano el dualismo que a los dos engendra, y atenerse a la sensatez común, en línea con la tradición aristotélica, antes que a las ensoñaciones utópicas. En nuestra opinión, el concepto aristotélico de naturaleza humana nos habilita para juzgar las antropotecnias mejor que la normatividad extraída de las visiones futuristas propias del TH. (shrink)
The prospect of replication of human beings through genetic manipulation has engendered one of the most controversial debates about reproduction in our society. Ideology is clearly influencing the direction of research and legislation on human cloning, which may present one of the greatest existential challenges to the meaning of creation. In this article, I argue that, in view of the possibility that human cloning and other emerging technologies could enhance physical and cognitive abilities, there is a need for a different (...) way of thinking about life, new technologies and creation. New scientific discoveries require a shift in the way psychology takes responsibility to help individuals and society. Today, psychology needs to follow the progress that humans are taking toward a transhuman stage of development as a transition to a later posthuman stage. (shrink)
In recent decades, recourse to notions of human dignity has increased extensively within the field of bioethics. In particular, the notion has been utilised in arguments that seek to constrain a variety of biotechnological endeavours, examples of which include human cloning and transhumanism. In this regard, transhumanism is frequently described as an affront to human dignity in a manner that appears to be aimed at halting the possibility of further debate. The efficacy of the concept of human dignity (...) has itself, however, been questioned. Criticisms include its ambiguous nature and thus the lack of adequate definition by those who utilise it, its supposedly religious undertones as well as the fact that it may be used to argue for diametrically opposing positions within the same argument, due to the existence of distinct and conflicting interpretations. In this paper, I briefly discuss the aims of the transhumanist movement and explicate the concept of human dignity in order to assess one of the most renowned dignity arguments that has been lodged against transhumanism, namely, the argument of the bioconservative thinker Leon Kass. In addition, I discuss the counter-argument of the transhumanist Nick Bostrom. These findings have implications for the concept’s efficacy to adjudicate the complex ethical conundrums posed, not only by transhumanism, but in the bioethics arena in general. (shrink)
Transhumanism is a loosely defined movement that has developed gradually over the past two decades. It promotes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and evaluating the opportunities for enhancing the human condition and the human organism opened up by the advancement of technology. Attention is given to both present technologies, like genetic engineering and information technology, and anticipated future ones, such as molecular nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
There is a close systematic relationship between panentheism, as a metaphysical theory about the relation between God and the world, and transhumanism, the ethical demand to use the means of the applied sciences to enhance both human nature and the environment. This relationship between panentheism and transhumanism provides a ‘cosmic’ solution to the problem of evil: on panentheistic premises, the history of the world is the one infinite life of God, and we are part of the one infinite (...) divine being. We ourselves are therefore responsible for the future development of the life of the divine being. We should therefore use the means provided by the natural sciences to develop the history of the world in such a way that the existence of evil shall be overcome and shall no longer be part of the divine being in whom we move and live and have our being. The metaphysics of panentheism leads to the ethics of transhumanism. (shrink)
Transhumanism has a great deal in common with religion as traditionally conceived. James J. Hughes claims that "a variety of metaphysics appear to be compatible with one form of transhumanism or the other, from various Abrahamic views of the soul to Buddho-Hindu ideas of reincarnation to animist ideas."1 Most notably, the range of technologically optimistic views held by transhumanists shares with many religions a longing for transcendence of our presently frail and limited situation. In contrast to the doctrines (...) of many traditional religions, however, transhumanist salvation will come not with the aid of divine intervention, but solely from our own ingenuity (or at least from the ingenuity of beings that result... (shrink)
Transhumanism is a loosely defined movement that has developed gradually over the past two decades.  It promotes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and evaluating the opportunities for enhancing the human condition and the human organism opened up by the advancement of technology. Attention is given to both present technologies, like genetic engineering and information technology, and anticipated future ones, such as molecular nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
Although transhumanism offers hope for the transcendence of human biological limitations, it generates many intrinsic and consequential ethical concerns. The latter include issues such as the exacerbation of social inequalities and the exponentially increasing technological capacity to cause harm. To mitigate these risks, many thinkers have initiated investigations into the possibility of moral enhancement that could limit the power disparities facilitated by biotechnological enhancement. The arguments often focus on whether moral enhancement is morally permissible, or even obligatory, and remain (...) largely in the realm of the hypothetical. This paper proposes that psilocybin may represent a viable, practical option for moral enhancement and that its further research in the context of moral psychology could comprise the next step in the development of moral transhumanism. (shrink)
In this paper, I focus on the concept of human dignity and critically assess whether such a concept, as used in the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, is indeed a useful tool for bioethical debates. However, I consider this concept within the context of the development of emerging technologies, that is, with a particular focus on transhumanism. The question I address is not whether attaching artificial limbs or enhancing particular traits or capacities would dehumanize or undignify persons (...) but whether nonbiological entities introduced into or attached to the human body contribute to the “augmentation” of human dignity. First, I outline briefly how the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights uses the concept of dignity. Second, I look at the possibility of a universal bioethics in relation to the concept of human dignity. Third, I examine the concept of posthuman dignity and whether the concept of human dignity as construed in the declaration has any relevance to posthuman dignity. (shrink)
Transhumanism is a modern expression of ancient and transcultural aspirations to radically transform human existence, socially and bodily. Before the Enlightenment these aspirations were only expressed in religious millennialism, magical medicine, and spiritual practices. The Enlightenment channeled these desires into projects to use science and technology to improve health, longevity, and human abilities, and to use reason to revolutionize society. Since the Enlightenment, techno‐utopian movements have dynamically interacted with supernaturalist millennialism, sometimes syncretically, and often in violent opposition. Today the (...) transhumanist movement, a modern form of Enlightenment techno‐utopianism, has evolved a number of subsects, from the libertarian utopians funded by billionaire Peter Thiel, to religious syncretists like the Mormon Transhumanist Association, to the left‐wing technoprogressives and their bioliberal intellectual allies. In reaction to accelerating technological innovation and transhumanist ideas, apocalyptic Christians, and even secular catastrophists, have begun to incorporate human enhancement into their End Times scenarios. With all sides believing that the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, there is a growing likelihood of violent confrontation. (shrink)
In this article, transhumanism is considered to be a quasi-medical ideology that seeks to promote a variety of therapeutic and human-enhancing aims. Moderate conceptions are distinguished from strong conceptions of transhumanism and the strong conceptions were found to be more problematic than the moderate ones. A particular critique of Boström’s defence of transhumanism is presented. Various forms of slippery slope arguments that may be used for and against transhumanism are discussed and one particular criticism, moral arbitrariness, (...) that undermines both weak and strong transhumanism is highlighted. (shrink)
After describing Heidegger's critique of metaphysics as ontotheology, I unpack the metaphysical assumptions of several transhumanist philosophers. I claim that they deploy an ontology of power and that they also deploy a kind of theology, as Heidegger meant it. I also describe the way in which this metaphysics begets its own politics and ethics. In order to transcend the human condition, they must transgress the human.
Transhumanism is a “technoprogressive” socio-political and intellectual movement that advocates for the use of technology in order to transform the human organism radically, with the ultimate goal of becoming “posthuman.” To this end, transhumanists focus on and encourage the use of new and emerging technologies, such as genetic engineering and brain-machine interfaces. In support of their vision for humanity, and as a way of reassuring those “bioconservatives” who may balk at the radical nature of that vision, transhumanists claim common (...) ground with a number of esteemed thinkers and traditions, from the ancient philosophy of Plato and Aristotle to the postmodern philosophy of Nietzsche. It is crucially important to give proper scholarly attention to transhumanism now, not only because of its recent and ongoing rise as a cultural and political force, but because of the imminence of major breakthroughs in the kinds of technologies that transhumanism focuses on. Thus, the articles in this issue of The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy are either explicitly about transhumanism or are on topics, such as the ethics of germline engineering and criteria for personhood, that are directly relevant to the debate between transhumanists and bioconservatives. (shrink)
The transhumanist literature encompasses diverse nonnovel positions on questions of disability and obligation reflecting long-running political philosophical debates on freedom and value choice, complicated by the difficulty of projecting values to enhanced beings. These older questions take on a more concrete form given transhumanist uses of biotechnologies. This paper will contrast the views of Hughes and Sandberg on the obligations persons with "disabilities" have to enhance and suggest a new model. The paper will finish by introducing a distinction between the (...) responsibility society has in respect of the presence of impairments and the responsibility society has not to abandon disadvantaged members, concluding that questions of freedom and responsibility have renewed political importance in the context of enhancement technologies. (shrink)
Broadly speaking, transhumanism is a movement seeking to advance the cause of post-humanity. It advocates using science and technology for a reconstruction of the human condition sufficiently radical to call into question the appropriateness of calling it “human” anymore. While there is not universal agreement among transhumanists as to the best path to this goal, the general outline is clear enough. Advances in genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnology will make possible the achievement of the Baconian vision of (...) “the relief of man’s estate,” as they allow us to conquer disease, eliminate unhappiness, end scarcity and postpone, perhaps indefinitely, death itself. But fulfilling such long-standing dreams is only the beginning of what our new powers will make possible. Left to itself, the present trajectory of technological development necessarily aims at a future incomprehensible to beings such as we are – at no distant date an evolutionary leap in the way intelligence is embodied, and what it can accomplish. Transhumanism seeks to make sure no atavistic scruple obstructs this momentum, and to maximize its benefits and minimize its admitted risks. While there is no lack of illuminating print works advocating transhumanism, that its public face should be on the World Wide Web is as much a matter of course as once would have been the use by similar movements of the printed broadside or the public lecture. On the websites of the World Transhumanist Association (www. transhumanism.org) and the Extropy Institute (www.extropy. org) – premier among transhumanism’s many organizations – one finds authoritative statements explaining and justifying the transhumanist project. If transhumanism were primarily an academic school or a professional association, it would not be entirely fair to turn to these admittedly popular presentations for a critical look at the transhumanist vision. But as these are the documents by which transhumanism presents itself to the public as a movement, and through which it hopes to gain adherents, it is legitimate to make.... (shrink)
The conference did not target only the U.S. Christian right for opposing such things as stem cell research. It challenged every faith community that believes a human being is more than just one more biological product. The weekend of Aug. 7 was organized by the World Transhumanist Association. In 2005 its conference will be in Caracas, Venezuela, where this small band of transhumanists will continue to challenge all larger faith communities to review what they have to say about a "brave (...) new world" that would carry us far beyond the engineered manipulations that seemed so distant when Aldous Huxley wrote in 1932 about creating babies in test tubes. (shrink)
To reassure those concerned about wholesale discontinuity between human existence and posthumanity, transhumanists assert shared ground with antiquity on vital challenges and aspirations. Because their claims reflect key misconceptions, there is no shared vision for transhumanists to invoke. Having exposed their misuses of Prometheus, Plato, and Aristotle, I show that not only do transhumanists and antiquity crucially diverge on our relation to ideals, contrast-dependent aspiration, and worthy endeavors but that illumining this divide exposes central weaknesses in transhumanist argumentation. What is (...) more, antiquity’s handling of these topics suggests a way through the impasse in current enhancement debates about human “nature” and helps to resolve a tension within transhumanists’ accounts of what our best moments signify about the ontological requirements for real flourishing. (shrink)
Transhumanist thought on overpopulation usually invokes the welfare of present human beings and the control over future generation, thus minimizing the need and meaning of new births. Here we devise a framework for a more thorough screening of the relevant literature, to have a better appreciation of the issue of natality. We follow the lead of Hannah Arendt and Brent Waters in this respect. With three overlapping categories of words, headed by “natality,” “birth,” and “intergenerations,” a large sample of books (...) on transhumanism is scrutinized, showing the lack of sustained reflection on the issue. After this preliminary scrutiny, a possible defense of natality in face of modern and transhumanist thought is marshaled, evoking a number of desirable human traits. One specific issue, the impact of modern values on natality, is further explored, reiterating that concerns about overpopulation and enhanced humans should keep in sight the natural cycle of birth and death. (shrink)
The article discusses the modern philosophical concepts of transhumanism and posthumanism. The central issue of these concepts is “What is the posthuman?” The 21st century is marked by a contradictory understanding of the role and status of the human. On the one hand, there comes the realization of human hegemony over the whole world around: in the 20th century mankind not only began to conquer outer space, invented nuclear weapons, made many amazing discoveries but also shifted its attention to (...) itself or rather to the modification of itself. Transhumanist projects aim to strengthen human influence by transforming human beings into other, more powerful and viable forms of being. Such projects continues the project of human “deification.” On the other hand, acknowledging the onset of the new geological epoch of the Anthropocene, there comes the rejection of classical interpretations of the human. The categories of historicity, sociality and subjectivity are no longer so anthropocentric. In the opinion of the posthumanists, the project of the Vitruvian man has proven to be untenable in the present-day environment and is increasingly criticized. The reflection on the phenomenon of the human and his future refers to the concepts that explore not only human but also non-human. Very often we can find a synonymous understanding of transhumanism and posthumanism. Although these movements work with the same modern constructs and concepts but interpret them in a fundamentally different way. The discourse of transhumanism refers to the Cartesian opposition of the body and the mind. Despite the sacralization of technology and the desire to purify the posthuman from such seemingly permanent attributes of the living as aging and death, transhumanism in many ways continues the ideas of the Enlightenment. For posthumanists, the subject is nomadic and a kind of assembly of human, animal, digital, chimerical. Thus, in posthumanism the main maxim of humanism about the human as the highest value is rejected – the human ceases to be “the measure of all things.”. (shrink)
This article is concerned with an apparent similarity between the conceptions of human nature found in the early work of Jean-Paul Sartre and certain forms of transhumanism, and the role of a particular conception of human nature in the application of transhumanist ideas to debates on performance-enhancement. The article begins with a brief outline of major features of Sartre's phenomenological work (?I). The article then gives a more detailed account of the relationship between Sartre's phenomenological ontology and the view (...) of human nature expressed in Existentialism and Humanism (?II). This is followed by an outline of the central features of Sartre's later work that have a bearing on his view of human nature (?III). This allows the articulation of two possible different uses of the expression ?human nature?. A contrast is drawn between the more satisfactory of the two and the view of human nature that appears to motivate transhumanism (?IV). The article will conclude by considering the implications of Sartre's view on human nature for the advocacy of what purports to be a transhumanist project in relation to performance-enhancement in sport (?V). (shrink)
Some transhumanist authors make the prophecy of immortality thanks to the transfer of the human mind to a superintelligent computer that would guarantee the survival of the person. That immortality would mean a happy life. In this article we try to show that this supposed indefinite survival is not exactly what is usually understood by immortality. In addition, we try to think about what immortality is based on the theological understanding of eternity and personal communion in which the life of (...) God consists. The decisive questions in this dialogue with the postures of transhumanism are the meaning of the body for the human person and what happiness is. (shrink)
All worldviews have some sort of moral vision for why and how they pursue their goals, though these moral visions may be more or less explicitly stated. Transhumanism is no different, though sometimes people forget that transhumanism is not the alien dream of a posthuman mind but is instead a very human ideology driven by very human interests and moral ideals. In this paper, I lay out some of those ideals in very general terms, advocating a high-minded moral (...) vision for transhumanism that is born of and extends the desire for human flourishing. Though taken to new heights, transhumanism coheres with age-old views of ourselves as our own projects. What the end and direction and scope of those projects can be, however, is generated by, but not limited to, human nature. (shrink)
This article distances the classic Patristic teaching of Eastern Orthodoxy on theosis from the pseudo-religious ideology of transhumanism. By appealing to the Silver Age of Russian theologians a century ago, today’s transhumanist vision is dubbed Mangodhood, an idolatrous construction of a technological Tower of Babel. In contrast, the classical Orthodox teaching of deification or theosis relies on the spiritual grace of the true God, rendering the true goal of religion to be Godmanhood.
Sheldon Richmond has written an insightful and exhaustive review of my book The Nature of the Machine and the Collapse of Cybernetics: A Transhumanist Lesson for Emerging Technologies. Richmond voices concerns regarding some suggestions I made about the future of humanity vis-à-vis a contemporary cybernetic reinstantiation in the form of Emerging Technologies. He suggests that future cybernetically rooted sciences can pose peril for the human condition. This reply is intended to clarify certain points that Richmond brings up, by means of (...) responding to his suggestion that cybernetics and transhumanism could be independently understood, and unveiling a metaphysical and ethical stance, shared by Richmond, critical to the observations I made regarding a “cybernetically organized mankind” made possible by Emerging Technologies. I identify Richmond’s position as precautionary in nature, for reasons perhaps m... (shrink)
This essay gives a brief overview of Transhumanism and explores a few of its central ideas in the light of Polanyi’s views about embodiment, Marxism, and reality’s hierarchal order, concluding that although Polanyi would likely appreciate the possibilities of cyborgic augmentation that feature in the Transhumanist route to the posthuman, he would utterly repudiate its metaphysics of disembodied intelligence and its underlying technological determinism.
Teilhard is among the first to seriously explore the future of human evolution. He advocates both bio-technologies (e.g. genetic engineering) and intelligence technologies. He discusses the emergence of a global computation - communication system (and is said by some to have been the first to have envisioned the Internet). He advocates the development of a global society. He is almost surely the first to discuss the acceleration of technological progress to a Singularity in which human intelligence will become super-intelligence. He (...) discusses the spread of human intelligence into the universe and its amplification into a cosmic-intelligence. His work has been taken up by Barrow and Tipler; Tipler; Moravec; and Kurzweil. Of course, Teilhard's Omega Point Theory is deeply Christian. For secular transhumanists, this may be difficult. But transhumanism cannot avoid a fateful engagement with Christianity. Christian institutions may support or oppose transhumanism. Since Christianity is an extremely powerful cultural force in the West, it is imperative for transhumanism to engage it carefully. A serious study of Teilhard can help that engagement and will thus be rewarding to both communities. (shrink)
Several theologians have pointed to resonances between the Greek Patristic doctrine of deification or theosis and recent transhumanist narratives: both discourses indicate death as the final enemy of humankind and invest heavily in a hoped-for transcendence of life as we know it. These resonances will be investigated further by comparing the approach to human nature found in Maximus the Confessor and in the prominent transhumanists Nick Bostrom and John Harris. In addition to sharing with transhumanists a disavowal of death and (...) a trajectory towards transcendence, Maximus also shares a view of human nature that is more dynamic and open-ended than is commonly attributed to his Late Antique context. On the other hand, Maximus also insists on the persistence of this dynamic nature in its integrity even into the eschaton. He does so for a number of reasons that should give Christians pause about any rhetoric that calls for an abandonment of human nature: that theosis depends precisely on sharing a human nature with Christ; that our vocation as mediators in creation depends on our physical bodies as the locus of shared existence with the material world; and that corruption has a providential use in binding us together with our neighbors and in cultivating virtue as we strain for the incorruptible and supernatural gift of theosis. (shrink)