Genophilosophy Essay

Genophilosophy Essay

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Genophilosophy

ABSTRACT: Contemporary progress in life sciences, particularly in genetic engineering, is changing our concept of "human being" and a whole series of other philosophical and common notions. The conventional idea of "subject" will no longer be the final reference for philosophical thinking, since even the subject qua biological or psychological structure will enjoy a high degree of unpredictability. The results of gene technology require reinterpreting such concepts as reproduction, individuality, history, freedom and subjectivity. This paper focuses on the question of freedom, where freedom means the capacity to deliberate and choose between different alternatives of action. We hold that the issue of freedom is relevant for genetics. Considering that genes can "decide" between alternatives, it is possible to speak about the freedom of genes, at least in a metaphoric sense. It has been suggested that genes are "more free" than human beings because they encoded us. The human genome program thus helps us to understand what kind of structures human beings are dependent upon. The main question that we address in this paper concerns the entire human genome project and all its implications including the functions and effects of each gene, the possibility of technological manipulation, what kind of freedom, history, and "human being" will eventually "survive."

Recent developments in molecular biology and genetic engineering are going to change our human being concept and a whole series of other philosophical and common notions, such as "knowledge", "subject", "self", "history", "past", "science", "ethics", etc. The traditional idea of "subject" won't be any more the only final reference of philosophical thinking, si...


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...philosophy ? a higher speed mutant of ancient type philosophy ? should prevail with a main task to investigate and understand the consequences of these new technologies and to represent it in scientific, social and ethical debates. Similar to when Kant urged philosophers in the eighteenth century to turn towards humans, now there is a need to turn towards genes. In continuous dialogs and partnerships with life scientists and politicians, philosophers have to develop new merits of freedom, person and evolution and to investigate the possible ways of improving human life on earth. We have to remember on the pragmatic adage, if philosophy and science lack social fruits in the long run, then it does not deserve the attention of the society. On the other hand, if the science and society do not open up for philosophical deliberations, it can have monstrous consequences.

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