What is it and does it have a future?
Transhumanism is a controversial philosophical concept. It implies the use of all available technologies for the development of humanity and going beyond existing borders. But will religion, ethics and a weak technological progress allow transhumanism to develop?
To whom do we owe the appearance of the term transhumanism?
At the beginning of the 20th century, a philosophical concept called transhumanism was formed. It quickly formed into a form of movement, began to be used as a term in the middle of the century, and finally declared itself at the top of its voice already at its sunset. The very word transhumanism appeared thanks to the first Director General of UNESCO, humanist and evolutionist Julian Huxley, who wrote "New Bottles for a New Wine" in 1957.
Julian was the brother of the famous writer Aldous Huxley, whose book "Doors of Perception" with a description of transcendental experiences from taking hallucinogenic drugs, became a real icon for the generation of "Flower Children". And also a textbook for various kinds of psychonauts who plunged with the help of narcotic drugs into the depths of their consciousness for the cardinal improvement of human nature. So they searched for the meaning of existence and the lost connection with the divine
Unlike his brother, Julian saw the development of humanity not so much in the use of shamans' experience in taking mind-expanding drugs, as in the use of the latest technologies capable of transforming the biological nature of man. He seriously considered the possibility of such a change not only for one individual experimenter, but for the whole of humanity as a whole.
Huxley believed that the term transhumanism was the best way to describe such a transformation. Leaving the possibility for a person to remain a person, the new teaching gave him the opportunity to take steps to put new opportunities into practice.
Transhumanism and religion
But if we consider the concept of transhumanism from modern trends, then it can be defined as a scientific and philosophical trend that aims at ways out of the biological evolution of man. To do this, the possibilities of using all modern technologies suitable for improving the human body and mind are being explored. And, as an option, a possible merger into a single concept of information, biological and nanotechnology. The main goal that transhumanism strives for is the victory over aging and death.
And here transhumanism comes into open contradiction with religious trends. Because he puts the triumph of science at the forefront, rejecting the religious view of man as a being that is something more than just a social and biological individual. Moreover, the concept approves of interference with the divine. There is no such thing as the spirit and the image of God in transhumanism. Therefore, the concept has many critics from some supporters of religions. For them, such a philosophy is like devilry.
By the way, various kinds of alchemists, shamans dealing with the problem of human immortality, tried not to conflict with the divine essence of man. They also believed that man is not just a biological being.
The concept of transhumanism
The concept of transhumanism says that the potential of a person at the moment is not fully disclosed, which is difficult to argue with. Supporters of philosophy offer their own special ways for self-improvement. At the same time, many adherents of this doctrine prioritize the seemingly unshakable principles of humanism, as respect for the rights of each individual and concern for the rights of our lesser brothers.
Unlike all kinds of supporters of behind-the-scenes management of humanity, supporters of humanism emphasize the accessibility of all created technologies for all mankind. And they claim that they do not see as their goal the transformation of a person into a faceless robot-like creature. At the same time, according to their concept, all scientific achievements are not an end in themselves. They are only a means to improve the mind and body, so that a person can finally get rid of the millennial oppression of suffering.
Thus, transhumanism can be summed up by banal pills for depression or nootropic drugs that stimulate the work of the brain and make the existence of the person more effective. It turns out that almost all modern achievements of pharmacology and science are not alien to transhumanism.
Meanwhile, despite its relative youth, within the framework of transhumanism, there are already quite a lot of separate currents, whose leaders suggest using completely different ways to achieve the final goals. And the goals of many are already visible with different shades.
Some of these adherents have already managed to declare that the best way out for humanity would be its transition to virtual space, due to the complete fusion of the human mind with the computer. As we understand, it is impossible to do without implanting chips in the head, according to this concept, which means that supporters of various conspiracy theories protesting against chipping in the last few years were not so wrong.
However, most supporters of transhumanism still agree that the human body is necessary, at least at the first stage, as they say. At the same time, with the implementation of their ideas, humanity will constantly be in a blissful self-sufficient state, since it will fully learn to regulate its condition, mood, basic functions and appearance. This should open up new opportunities and boundless prospects that people in the past could not even think about.
As a result, all social ties must be transformed and a new society created. Again, all this has already been done by science fiction writers (the same H. G. Wells, for example), the futurists of the early twentieth century, and the same communists. But what all this can result in in reality can be gleaned already in various kinds of dystopias.
Although in words everything sounds pretty nice. Humanity must completely forget about hunger, epidemics, poverty, and suffering in general. Some transhumanists believe that artificial intelligence should replace man, which will become synonymous with man.
To learn more about how supporters of this concept see the world of the future, it is worth referring to the book "Deciphered Transhumanism". It was written by the French doctor and theologian Jean Boboc back in 2017, where he outlined the goals of philosophy very simply. In the first place is the idea of increasing life expectancy, smoothly flowing into immortality.
In Bobok's interpretation, this means such a state of human existence when the boundaries of life are not completely defined at all. To achieve this, it is necessary to correct the original inferiority of a person, which will give him the opportunity to change. One of the ways to this, according to Bobok, is the mandatory rearing of children from conception to birth in an artificial uterus.
By connecting to a perfect computer, the uterus will be able to synthesize and regulate the natural functions of the human body. That is, it will be able to maintain the desired temperature in the body of a future person, create a natural temperature in an artificial womb and the sound of a heartbeat. And will also take over all functions related to feeding and waste.
Thus, the gestation of the human body will become a matter of technical capabilities and will be devoid of sexual overtones. It is believed that this will make it possible to achieve the birth of a living organism devoid of harmful genetic failures and psychotrauma received in the womb.
Jacques Bobok sees it expedient to regulate the genome to eliminate all kinds of genetic diseases and give birth to an "ideal child". Associations with the "higher race" and "true Aryans" suggest themselves. After that, artificial intelligence is mentioned, which is given great importance. After all, this will allow, according to the French theologian, to transfer a person's life into the digital space.
And this will happen by scanning the human brain and transferring consciousness to some digital medium. The latter should lead, in his opinion, to the so-called digital immortality. And, of course, a special place is given here to the introduction of various chips into the human body that can simplify its existence, work directly with information and regulate basic functions.
All this should transform modern society, which will be forced to raise the question of the voluntary implementation of improvements in the biological basis of a person by introducing them into the field of genetics.
There is an opposite view of attempts to improve a person with technology. Since ancient times, in all mystical teachings, religions, alchemical treatises, this topic was considered forbidden. Attempts to get into the human genome, especially on a massive scale, are seen as one of the possible causes of the death of the entire civilization. To believe in it or not is everyone's right, but attempts to improve humanity, getting into who knows where, creates risks.
Adherents of transhumanism consider the study of DNA to be one of the main directions of its development, in order to further decode it to perform the necessary actions for the "improvement" of a person. For example, the international project "Human Genome", which unites the best scientists from all over the world, is working on this.
The main goals of transhumanism, according to its supporters, can be achieved in the following ways. The main emphasis is on the development of nanotechnology, thanks to which nanomachines will be born. With their help, it will be possible to reach any part of the human body. This will bring special benefits in medicine and will allow replacing human labor. The accuracy of the impact and operations of such machines will be at an unattainable level for a person. in general, special emphasis is placed on the development of technology. It is believed that they will free up people's time for other activities.
By the way, many of today's transhumanists appeal to the works of Karl Marx, who was the first to say that a person of the future will not need to work. Since automation and smart cars will do everything for him. And the work "About Man, about his mortality and immortality" by the Russian prose writer, poet and philosopher Alexander Radishchev is rightfully considered one of the fundamental works of modern transhumanism. As, by the way, many works of the founders of Russian cosmism, for example, Vernadsky or Tsiolkovsky, who believed that man was created for eternal life.
Transhumanism and "smart dust"
The concept of "smart dust" is connected with the idea of the development of nanotechnology. That is, what is at the junction of robotics and nanotechnology, having a prototype in the form of a computer network. It is assumed that in the future it will be possible to create a micro-network consisting of tightly interconnected and self-organizing nanorobots. The term "smart dust" was coined by University of Berkeley professor Christopher Pister twenty years earlier. In many ways, what he described repeated ideas from science fiction of the last century.
The basic element of such a network is mote (mote, from English – "mote"). The size of the mote is from a millimeter (the largest) to a micrometer (0.001 mm). It is assumed that each nanodevice in the future will be able to have its own sensors, computing equipment, communication system and power supply.
When grouped, moths will be able to form a low-energy network and serve as an aid in providing service to a person. For example, in climate management, monitoring the deterioration of infrastructure (bridges, buildings) or the organization of multimedia leisure. Although great hopes are pinned on expanding the functionality and establishing interaction with other information systems.
Note that the idea of "smart dust" is not so futuristic. The concept of the Pister gave impetus to the development of a specific branch of microelectronics. And today there is a basis for creating a similar network in the future. Processors of 1 sq.mm in size have already been invented, comparable in power to Intel processors of the first generations. Wireless communication technologies of devices have been invented, high-speed data transmission capabilities have been opened (the same 5G). And even more – the American company Dust Networks develops micro sensors for industry based on the concept of smart dust. What is it if not transhumanism in its manifestation?
And another direction that many supporters of transhumanism are pinning their hopes on is cryonics. This is a technology of freezing a dead body (human or animal) in the hope that someday science will be able to reach such heights that it will allow them to return to life and cure.
It has been actively developing since the 1950s. To date, only two countries in the world are engaged in cryonics – the USA (Alcor company, more than 200 people have been frozen), as well as Russia. In the Russian Federation, people are cryonized by the CryoRus company (about 81 bodies are frozen).
Despite decades of development, there is no common ground in the scientific community on this issue. Most scientists consider cryonics a pseudoscience. In society, freezing is treated as an idea of a fix and another bliss for rich people, from whom money is pumped out by the idea of prolonging life. But the very fact of achieving technological progress that allows you to freeze a person without damaging tissues and the brain is amazing.
Max Mohr's Ideas in Transhumanism
One of the main ideologists of modern transhumanism is the English philosopher and futurist Max O'Connor, who took the pseudonym Max More. Back in 1990, he developed the concept of determining the degree of survivability of system intelligence, paving the way for a person into a completely new post-human existence.
With his submission, scientists obsessed with a new ideology of building the future can take the liberty to interfere in the natural evolution of nature, trying to make a new subspecies of humanity. In their opinion, he will be capable of a happier existence, and maybe immortality. What is this if not an attempt to legalize experimental interference in human nature.
Mohr himself sees in his concept the possibilities for transformation from a transhuman into a post-human, to whom victory over the inherent genetic and biological features opens, as he believes, unprecedented horizons. Biological and intellectual abilities for self-programming are capable of turning, according to Max, a person into an immortal and unlimited being.
His doctrine was called the "Principles of Extropianism" and the Institute of Extropy was created for its research, where Mohr and supporters of his ideas are trying to find the implementation of their futurological projects. However, so far there are practically no significant achievements in this field. Interesting fact. Back in 1991, Mohr published a work entitled "For the Glory of the Devil", where he expounds the Gnostic-theosophical idea of Lucifer – "the bringer of light".
In conclusion, we note that transhumanism is a controversial philosophical concept. It contradicts modern religious, social and humanistic foundations, and is largely anti-scientific. But at the same time, the creative grain has not been solved in view of attempts to improve the human being through technology. The question remains: will the idea of transhumanism be realized?
Everything depends on the position of society and the majority's consent to the transition to a new phase of society's development. Will there be obstacles to progress or not? In addition, a lot depends on the involvement of the scientific community and the support of the concept. So far, there are difficulties with this.
The most famous transhumanist community "Humanity+" has more than 6 thousand participants in 100 countries of the world. It sets itself global geopolitical tasks: to develop a public dialogue around the world that helps to implement new, progressive, from their point of view, technologies. So far, there is no need to talk about globality.
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