Be Very Afraidhttp://www.jetpress.org/volume13/miah.html3 of 152/11/06 15:25
Being against transhumanism is not commensurate with technophobism. AsBostrom (1998) outlines, transhumanism is a philosophy that is directedtowards specific kinds of technology, frequently upon technologies that arecurrently emerging from theoretical possibilities such as cryonics,nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence. For this reason, beingunconvinced by transhuman aspirations entails the rejection of fantasticaltechnologies as being unrealiseable or undesirable for the interests ofhumans, rather than the complete rejection of technology. On this basis, itcan be understood why transhumanism remains marginal as a philosophicaldiscipline though, ironically, this is for all the wrong reasons. On the basis ofthe technologies of concern to transhumanists, it is not clear howposthumanity can become realiseable. The possibilities of time-travel or teleportation remain the business of science fiction.Moreover, if the basisof the transhumanist philosophy has something to do with critiquing thefixedness of the human condition, then it might still be argued that thesetranshuman technologies do not, in fact, go beyond humanity; they mightsimply alter it.It is for this reason that arguments concerning transhumanism must articulatehow “our posthuman future” (Fukuyama, 2002) can become recognised asour posthuman present (perhaps to the disappointment of Fukuyama).Importantly, it is not necessary to look at the future or even at the morefantastical technologies with which transhumanists are often moreconcerned, even if they are an important and defining characteristic oftranshumanism. In addition, technologies that might facilitate posthumanitymust first become enculturated within significant human practises beforeany change in beliefs about human-altering technologies can take place.Although societies might make use of various technologies, and use them totheir advantage, such activities do not necessarily entail a shift in beliefsabout the sanctity of the human body. Before it is possible for transhumanismto become a persuasive narrative of human ontology, it is necessary for thetranshumanist technologies and ideals to be applied at the quotidian levelof social experiences.
Perhaps one of the most pervasive examples of transhuman technology isfound in medical science. Ever since the mass production of pharmaceuticalproducts, conventional medicine has encouraged a symbiotic relationshipbetween humans and technology – a relationship that is already one wherethe human subject is submissive to the technology. Recent times havedemonstrated the transplantation of human limbs (Hawkes & Maynard,1998), the growth of organs (Murray, 1997), the manipulation of genes (Harris,1998), the emergence of advanced prosthetics (Mayes, 1995), and thedevelopment of countless medicines that can prolong existence, make itmore bearable, or, perhaps, eventually make it immortal (Ettinger, 1964).Such technologies have the benefit of a long history of human-technologysynergism, where the technologies have been legitimised because it hasbeen concluded that they are beneficial for humans by correctingdysfunction (as opposed to adding enhancement). On this premise of‘repair’, one might conclude that human-altering technologies areconstitutive of human existence, since even the very elementary methods ofillness remedy might be seen as human-altering technologies (Ettinger, 1972).Consequently, such domains where the technologies are already being