Contradictions From the Enlightenment Roots of Transhumanism
The Journal of medicine and philosophy 2010 Dec; 35(6): 622-40
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.
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