Friday, January 8, 2010

Comment to Hughes' essay on Problems of Transhumanism: Introduction

James Hughes has published a very interesting essay on Problems of Transhumanism: Introduction: What are the current unresolved issues in transhumanist thought? Which of these issues are peculiar to transhumanist philosophy and the transhumanist movement, and which are more actually general problems of Enlightenment thought? Which of these are simply inevitable differences of opinion among the more or less like-minded, and which need decisive resolution to avoid tragic errors of the past?

My comments:

I think we must accept the fact that the transhumanist movement is fragmented in different groups promoting different interpretations of Transhumanism and Enlightenment philosophies. Once we accept that there may be differences difficult to reconcile, we can work together to promote our common goals, and agree to disagree on other issues.

Political differences are, I think, unavoidable. Core transhumanism, the conviction that human enhancement is doable and good, can be adopted by persons with very different philosophical and political ideas. "Pure" transhumanists, if such persons exist, may tweak their political positions to match their transhumanist worldview, but most people will simply adapt their favorite interpretation of transhumanism to the ideas of their chosen philosophical and political camp.

I think the idea that “superlative technocentricity” performs an anti-democratic ideological function, that promising techno-fixes for social problems can be used to distract from immediate social needs and injustices, is a strawman invented by intellectually dishonest idiots to support their thought policing attitude, and should not be taken seriously. On the contrary, I think it is perfectly possible to be a technoprogressive social activist focused on here-and-now AND a transhumanist, or if you prefer a "superlative technocentric", and it is easy to remember which hat is more appropriate to the situation at hand.

I certainly do not share the presumption that transhumanists must be New Atheists. If by New Atheists you mean those intolerant and aggressive atheist fundamentalists who wish to force others not to believe, my message to them is, feel free to buy as much ad space on city buses as you like, but let others think with their own head.

Enlightenment belief in the transcendent power of intelligence generates new theologies. These theologies can follow from consistently naturalist predicates. I agree, and I am very interested in current experiments to design religions compatible with science.