Transhuman – TV Tropes

“Your mind is software. Program it. Your body is a shell. Change it. Death is a disease. Cure it. Extinction is approaching. Fight it.”

Transhumans are people who have been artificially enhanced with mental and/or physical abilities beyond what is considered normal for the species from an evolutionary standpoint. Despite the name, species-wide artificial improvement is not actually limited to humans – other species or entities that are enhanced count as well. The means used for this augmentation can be anything from magic to science.

Transhumanism as a movement and a philosophy implies that people can, and should, become transhuman en masse rather than be restricted to a select few who came across such abilities through extraordinary circumstances. By implying that scientific progress may grant superhuman powers to anyone with appropriate knowledge and resources, and without any regard for predestination, luck or hard work, transhumanism is notoriously opposed to narrative exceptionalism. A positive portrayal of transhumanism generally places a work on the Enlightenment side of the Romanticism Versus Enlightenment spectrum while a negative portrayal or conspicuous absence of it does the opposite.

Proponents argue that transhumanism is an essential part of our future lives, because…

The opponents also have many arguments to support their views.

Historically, media has not been kind to transhumanists. For a long time, desiring for human improvement has been the province of dictatorial dystopian societies or a Mad Scientist with a God complex. Anarcho-Cyber Punk writers focused on how cybernetic augmentation could be abused to the detriment of society. Religious Moral Guardians object to the idea on the ground of tampering with God’s creation (though, ironically, many religions espouse a transhuman plane of existence free from the sinfulness of flesh). And, particularly with the rise of far right and Neo-Nazi movements in recent years, there is the concern that transhumanism can serve as a rebranding of the old Eugenics Movement designed to make it seem more palatable. In fiction, upgrading a human being through science was usually portrayed as a bad idea strictly due to the Squick factor, and even when it wasn’t, it was either shown as a Deadly Upgrade with significant disadvantages or a part of an Utopia Justifies the Means plan objectionable on moral grounds.

Curiously enough, as augmentation-based medical therapies gain traction through both in-vivo genetic engineering and advanced prosthetics and improve human lives in ways thought impossible in the past, the criticism has gradually subsided. Today, many would agree that, from a strictly utilitarian standpoint, transhumanism has a great potential to be used for good, with the criticism being mainly aimed towards the implementation and its potential pitfalls and dangers rather than the idea itself.

The word ‘transhuman’ is now found in legitimate scientific and political debates.

In spite of being seldom mentioned by name, transhumanism encompasses many of the science fiction staples with their distinct tropes:

For some of the abilities a Transhuman might have, see Stock Superpowers; related to How to Give a Character Superpowers. See also No Transhumanism Allowed. This may be used as an aspect of a Cyberpunk or Post-Cyberpunk setting.

Subtrope of Trans Nature. Mutants and Human Subspecies may or may not be a result of this, and they may be crippled instead of “enhanced”. Not to be confused with Transgender people.

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‘Cause it’s gonna be the future soon, I won’t always be this way/As the things that make me weak and strange get engineered away…

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Transhuman – TV Tropes

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