A Cautionary Analysis of Transhumanist Philosophy

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In many popular science fiction novels, people can read about a future full of fantastic gadgets, advanced artificial intelligences, and superhuman cyborgs. Although some of these things may seem far-fetched, with recent scientific advancements, it may soon be possible for people to enjoy some the amazing technologies that they read about, such as life-extension therapies or cybernetic implants. A new philosophy known as Transhumanism has emerged in response to these innovations and has embraced this vision of a death-free future populated by enhanced posthumans. However, although many of these technologies have an enormous potential to improve the human condition, it is essential that we as a species practice discretion and moderation as these techniques and devices are implemented if we hope to avoid many of the terrifying consequences of misuse. To understand many of the dangers and shortcomings of these technological ambitions, it is essential to first understand the philosophy which has become so synonymous with these efforts. Transhumanism can best be described as a philosophy which advocates the use of technology in order to improve not only the quality of life of human beings, but also their lifespan, mental capacity, and physical ability. In essence, transhumanism is a radical extension of humanism. Similar to humanists, transhumanists value “rational thinking, freedom, tolerance, democracy, and concern for our fellow human beings.” The major difference in the case of transhumanism, however, is the additional belief in improving not only the “human condition and the external world,” but the human species as a whole. When arguing for biological enhancements, transhumanists typically refer to a belief in the autonomy th... ... middle of paper ... ...ijntje Smits. “A European Approach to Human Enhancement.” Paper presented at the European Union Science and Technology Options Assessment workshop, Brussels, Belgium, February 24, 2009. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/stoa/events/workshop/20090224/background_en.pdf (accessed March 24, 2010). Aubrey de Grey, “The War on Aging.” In The Scientific Conquest of Death, edited by Bruce J. Klein, 29-45. Buenos Aires: LibrosEnRed, 2004. http://www.imminst.org/SCOD.pdf (accessed March 24, 2010). Andy Miah. “Be Very Afraid: Cyborg Athletes, Transhuman Ideals & Posthumanity.” Jounral of Evolution & Technology 13, no. 1. (October 2003), http://jetpress.org/volume13/miah.html (accessed March 24, 2010). Andy Miah. “Posthumanism: A Critical History.” In Medical Enhancement and Posthumanity, edited by Ruth Chadwick and Bert Gordjin, 71-94. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 2009.

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