August 25, 2004

Bailey critiques Fukuyama, defends transhumanism

Reason Online's Ronald Bailey has published his latest column, "Transhumanism: The Most Dangerous Idea?" As usual, Bailey does a masterful job exposing the the shortcomings of Francis Fukuyama's arguments. In this case, Bailey is reacting to Fukuyama's recent characterization of transhumanism as "a strange liberation movement" that wants "nothing less than to liberate the human race from its biological constraints." Fukuyama believes that this one of the most serious threats currently facing humanity.

Bailey counters:
"In his famous book The End of History and the Last Man, Fukuyama declared that we are witnessing "the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government." Fair enough. But for Fukuyama, the end of history is a "sad time" because "daring, courage, imagination, and idealism will be replaced by economic calculation." Also, he claims, "in the post-historical period there will be neither art nor philosophy, just the perpetual caretaking of the museum of human history." How ironic that Fukuyama now spends his time demonizing transhumanism, a nascent philosophical and political movement that epitomizes the most daring, courageous, imaginative, and idealistic aspirations of humanity."
And in closing says:
"The environmental movement has taught us humility and respect for the integrity of nonhuman nature. We need a similar humility concerning our human nature. If we do not develop it soon, we may unwittingly invite the transhumanists to deface humanity with their genetic bulldozers and psychotropic shopping malls," concludes Fukuyama. I say, bring on those genetic bulldozers and psychotropic shopping malls that help people to live healthier, smarter, and happier lives.

I have my own nomination for an "idea [that], if embraced, would pose the greatest threat to the welfare of humanity": Banning technological progress in the name of "humility."

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