Transhumanism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the futurist ideology and movement. For the critique of humanism, see posthumanism. For the pattern of seasonal migration, see transhumance.

Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international cultural and intellectual movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.[1] Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations, as well as study the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. They predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman".[1]

The contemporary meaning of the term transhumanism was foreshadowed by one of the first professors of futurology, FM-2030, who taught "new concepts of the Human" at The New School in the 1960s, when he began to identify people who adopt technologies, lifestyles and worldviews transitional to "posthumanity" as "transhuman".[2] This hypothesis would lay the intellectual groundwork for the British philosopher Max More to begin articulating the principles of transhumanism as a futurist philosophy in 1990, and organizing in California an intelligentsia that has since grown into the worldwide transhumanist movement.[2][3][4]

Influenced by seminal works of science fiction, the transhumanist vision of a transformed future humanity has attracted many supporters and detractors from a wide range of perspectives.[2] Transhumanism has been characterized by one critic, Francis Fukuyama, as among the world's most dangerous ideas,[5] to which Ronald Bailey countered that it is rather the "movement that epitomizes the most daring, courageous, imaginative, and idealistic aspirations of humanity".[6]

According to Nick Bostrom,[1]transcendentalist impulses have been expressed at least as far back as in the quest for immortality in the Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as historical quests for the Fountain of Youth, Elixir of Life, and other efforts to stave off aging and death.

There is debate about whether the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche can be considered an influence on transhumanism despite its exaltation of the "bermensch" (overman), due to its emphasis on self-actualization rather than technological transformation.[1][7][8][9]

The fundamental ideas of transhumanism were first mooted in 1923 by the British geneticist J.B.S. Haldane in his essay Daedalus: Science and the Future, which predicted that great benefits would come from applications of advanced sciences to human biology and that every such advance would first appear to someone as blasphemy or perversion, "indecent and unnatural". In particular, he was interested in the development of the science of eugenics, ectogenesis (creating and sustaining life in an artificial environment) and the application of genetics to improve human characteristics, such as health and intelligence.

His article prompted a spate of academic and popular interest; - J. D. Bernal, a crystallographer at Cambridge, wrote The World, the Flesh and the Devil in 1929, in which he speculated on the prospects of space colonization and radical changes to human bodies and intelligence through bionic implants and cognitive enhancement.[10] These ideas have been common transhumanist themes ever since.[1]

The biologist Julian Huxley is generally regarded as the founder of "transhumanism", coining the term in an article written in 1957:

Up till now human life has generally been, as Hobbes described it, nasty, brutish and short; the great majority of human beings (if they have not already died young) have been afflicted with misery we can justifiably hold the belief that these lands of possibility exist, and that the present limitations and miserable frustrations of our existence could be in large measure surmounted The human species can, if it wishes, transcend itself - not just sporadically, an individual here in one way, an individual there in another way, but in its entirety, as humanity.[11]

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Transhumanism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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