Also known as “Posthumanism,” this concept is approximately defined as “Persons of unprecedented physical, intellectual, and psychological capacity, self-programming, self-constituting, potentially immortal, unlimited individuals.”
Humanism finds reasons for ethics and morals without traditional religion, basing its philosophy of life on empirical observations of the world around us. Recognizing the trends, seeing the millions of years of evolution improving biological designs, followed by thousands of years of human beings evolving culturally, humanists and transhumanists both recognize the purpose of life is to improve.
Transhumanism defines its focus differently. Transhumanism chief concern is vision. The Transhumanist takes a proactive, technology-focused approach to life. Their aim is to transcend our basic design as species homosapiens and become something more through science and technology.
Many Transhumanists look forward to a time in the future known as The Singularity, when human thought and communication will accelerate to a point incomprehensible to present day humans. For readers who consider this mere fantastic speculation, consider how the average human IQ in industrialized nations has risen 17 points over the last half century. This trend is accelerating, just as our technology and the scope of our understanding is accelerating.
We could no more hope to comprehend human life a thousand years from now any more than humans a thousand years ago could hope to comprehend ours. The Transhumanist recognizes the high probability, nearly inevitable outcome to human evolution and takes the reigns, actively working toward it.
Salvation Through Technology
The Transhumanist school of thought for many has become a fantasy of immortality, a quest for the technological Fountain of Youth. The ideal of salvation through science reduces many Transhumanists to religious zealotry.
To understand the cause of this emphasis on technological salvation, we must understand that many Transhumanists are also atheists, and do not therefore believe in the transcendence of the soul. If physical death means the permanent end of a unique, individual consciousness, then the only means to escaping the fate of non-existence is in through the regenerative potentials in stem cell research, transcribing consciousness to computers, cryonic suspension, or cloning spare bodies and parts.
Popular Transhumanism is extremely concerned with augmenting biology, a lofty goal, presently unachievable. The Transhumanist’s preoccupation with replacing biology requires future developments; yet, there is insufficient attention being paid to the immediate steps we can take to compliment biology.
Transhumanists who subscribe to these beliefs are also the most vocal proponents of controversial technologies. Organizations, such as the World Transhumanist Association, seek to expand the rights of human beings to use emerging technologies for self-improvement.
Injecting nanobytes into my bloodstream to repair my cells, replacing my eyes with optics that can see a wider visible spectrum, or transcribing my mind to a computer chip are all great ideas for a future when these are possible, but realistically I must work on myself now.
Transhumanists must cognitively differentiate between futurist speculation and practical present-day solutions. Transhumanisms’ strength lies in its vision, but fantastic speculation is the realm of Futurism. There are many actions the Transhumanist can take right now to transcend their biological inefficiencies.
Nutrition and Fitness sciences are figuring out the details of extending our longevity and improving our current health each day with a multitude of studies. Diet recommendations, Vitamins, Creatine, Glucosamine and Condroiton are just a few of the ways we can improve our body’s functions.
Psychology and Neuroscience has made significant gains in understanding how our minds and brains work. Thanks to Biofeedback Therapies, we can now recognize how our minds affect our body’s functions and cognitively master both. Thanks to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, we are learning how to actively control our thoughts to improve our mental health.
Technology is improving the way we think as well. We are taking in more information thanks to the Internet. Televisions and radios are now old technologies, less efficient for data consumption. We are filling our heads with more facts more quickly thanks to computers. At the same time we are improving our data output and productivity using these same cognitive prostheses to calculate for us.
All of these developments require a social architecture that supports free inquiry, academia for generalized research, and free enterprise for applied research. Transhumanists must support our continued progress as a species by supporting a culture that fosters science and technology. We must use technologies like the Internet to organize and promote our beliefs, proactively lobbying for a society that moves forward to improve our collective quality of life.
Transhumanists VS Luddites
Environmentalist liberals oppose the most viable alternative fuel in the world, nuclear power. Religious conservatives oppose the most promising medical research, stem-cell therapies. Many conservatives and liberals support both of these technologies. One of the goals of the transhumanist movement is to redefine American politics along a pro and con axis concerning technology, rather than the vaguely defined and inconsistently applied liberal and conservative axis.
With the term “Progressive” already being used by the American left, Dr. David Brin has suggested calling this movement “Modernist.” The term’s antiquated associations make it ripe for redefining.
Modernists support emergency contraception and the drug mifepristone because these drugs do not endanger the woman’s health and because modernists do not recognize the cluster of undifferentiated cells that is the embryo as human life. This same reasoning is why we do not protest stem cell research, but support all of these advances and potential advances in medical technology because they improve our quality of life.
Modernists support reasonable environmentalism. They recognize Nuclear Power as a vastly superior source of power compared to Coal-burning power plants. They recognize the problems of environmental sustainability in growing organic foods. They reject the recidivism of the most extreme elements of the environmental movements, which rejects all technology and seeks to return to nature.
Modernists support animal research, but they also support heavy regulation of the practice and restrictions on its application. Modernists support Genetically Modified foods; although, they also support strict oversights of its implementation. Modernists support rationality and moderation in all things.
Modernists may squabble over the details and degrees to which all of these political issues are implemented. They recognize there are no simple solutions and modern issues are rife with complexity. Yet, such a shift in the American political axis would transform our country’s direction. The Modernists of the left and right united would create such a majority that the anti-progress elements in both parties would become completely irrelevant and we could all continue walking forward as a country again.