[ExI] Posthumanism vs. Transhumanism

Tom Nowell nebathenemi at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Jun 18 23:04:57 UTC 2009

Natasha wrote:  "However, years later, I see that there has been serious  
development in building posthumanism into a viable philosophy, and  
what could be at the expense of transhumanism (several writings  
suggest that transhumanism is weak, or makes claims that are not  
accurate (without footnote or reference))."

Academics can claim all they like about transhumanism being weak. However, I could point to their field of philosophy and ask "Where are your popularisers? Where is your Kurzweil or Broderick? Where are your websites and online magazines? How diverse are the attendants at your conferences?"
Transhumanism, as it appears currently, embraces several strands of thought derived from the Promethean notion that humanity can and will bring about a great change in itself, and most forms are optimistic and see this as something to welcome (the less optimistic see it as an inevitability to prepare for). The diversity of views make it harder to construct overarching philosophies, and make it hard to make generalisations that are true. It also makes it easy for people to create straw men attacking one particular narrow strand of transhumanist thought.

Perhaps we should take heart from the handful of areas in which transhumanist ideas are changing the world around us: Peter Diamandis has been a space advocate for some time, and the X prize has delivered human suborbital flights more cheaply than before - Virgin Galactic will be performing these in a couple of years. Aubrey de Grey has successfully raised money for the Methuselah foundation and brought attention to anti-aging efforts. 

Natasha also wrote:
"Is it going to be posthumanism vs. transhumanism? Which one has deeper  
insights? Which one has more sound / rational/ innovative ideas. Which  
is more appropriate to lead the public and private sector into the  
future of emerging/converging technologies and human enhancement? Is  
there room for both? And, if so, do philosophical boundaries need to  
be articulated?"

Well, I don't see any sign that posthumanism is making any serious efforts to lead the public and private sector, unlike transhumanism. Which one has deeper insights - how can you quantify such a thing? (either all thoughts are equally shallow as the more radical deconstructionists hold, or we can use Dr Brodericks patent deepness analyser, which responds to fake deepness with Australian insults).

Here's a thought: maybe we are the shallow ones, engaging in a revolution without fully understanding the philosophical implications of what we're trying to do. Maybe we're the bolsheviks and maoists of the twenty-first century, screaming for a revolution to free the people based on our own personal takes on the writings of a few philosophers. Maybe the philosophical underpinnings do count less than the real-world results your revolutionaries bring.



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