Using science to modify humans, and better ourselves is becoming more of a reality every year. The term transhumanism can be defined as, a method to increase human’s physical and mental capacities using science (Koch, pg 686). It’s an idea that has been around for as long as humans. Humans will always strive to better themselves, and with new advances in technology and bioengineering this becomes more of a reality. The best examples are simple technologies like pacemakers, or prosthetics. They help people to live better. There are certainly more transhumanist technologies that will be developed to help the human race. However, there are many ethical issues related to transhumanism as well. Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment is a piece of literature written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It addresses both transhumanism and humanism. Dr. Heidegger finds the water of life, and uses it in an experiment. He questions what it means to be human, and how people might react if given the opportunity to make themselves younger. Transhumanism brings up many ethical issues. Dr. Heidegger’s experiment is a perfect example of the importance of those ethical considerations. For instance, what are the boundaries of human transformation, possible misuses, and discrimination for those who can’t afford it?
With the ability to change humans comes the potential to lengthen lives, dramatically alter the body, or increase mental capacity. The problem with a new concept like this, is that there is no way to police what happens. No way to control how much people are allowed to change themselves, or their future children. So, at what point have people gone too far? Or, at what point are we no longer human? Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment brief...
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...looked upon as the better human, and people without enhancements would be discriminated upon. The result of this would most likely be a widening wealth gap, caused by social discrimination. Much like Dr. Heidegger concluded transhumanist technologies are dangerous if not controlled properly.
The doctor was able to explore what it means to be human, and the boundaries of transhumanism as well. His elixir gave his friends the opportunity to start a new life, but they stayed the same. They were bitter and judgmental, and even after having a lifetime to learn from their mistakes they didn’t. In many ways transhumanist technologies will do the same if not monitored carefully. There are many ways it could be misused, cause social discrimination, and change what it means to be human. However, by considering ethics those negative effects can be avoided as much as possible.
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