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A Cautionary Analysis Of Transhumanist Philosophy

1560 words - 6 pages

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 that a person holds over their body. This concept extends to include the removal of all negative qualities and restrictions of the human body in order to allow for the individual to reach their fullest potential. To the transhumanist, this grants a person the ability to let their external self mirror their true internal values. However, in line with their belief in the freedom of the self, they also advocate that people be allowed the right to refuse these enhancements in all of their forms and to remain as an unmodified human.
Transhumanism does have some very positive ideals and has a bright outlook for the future, but in practice, some of the technologies that must be used to achieve their goal may not have the most desirable effects. One of the first and most important technologies embraced by transhumanists is life-extension therapy. Given the rapid development of new innovations in medicine, we are now able to deal with diseases and conditions that were once considered to be life-threatening. As a result of these technologies, we have witnessed an improvement in our quality of life, a drastically lower infant mortality rate, and a lower death rate from infectious diseases and other fatal conditions....

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