December 4, 2010

Peter Caws: "What is Humanity, that We should be Worried about Transforming It?" [CFI conference on biomedical enhancement]

Peter Caws is presenting, "What is Humanity, that We should be Worried about Transforming It?"

Humans is what humans think it is. No one is human by right of nature, it's defined by us alone, our club alone. Humanity becomes an intentional object in the ontological sense.

Freud noted that, in our quest for omnipotence and omniscience, and as we work to become more god-like, we still find that we are unhappy, troubled and unfilfled. That said, argues Caws, we need to keep the deliberative process going. Reject the transhumanist and bioconservative extravagance and seek the middle path.


Alvis Brigis said...

My personal take on it is that the middle path is gradual transhumanism or gradual humanism informed by increasingly accurate maps of human evolution. It's clear that we're part of a long chain of transformation, and that info-tech acceleration is a natural extension of this, rather than a complete and utter game-changing upheaval. So, form that perspective I agree with Caws.

What's your take on this George?

kurt9 said...

Why not let people do what they want? Some people choose the slow road. Others will choose a faster road. Why do we need some politician or bureaucrat to tell me what people can or cannot do with their own minds and bodies? I think people should be free to make these choices on their own as free individuals.

FutureNerd said...

To me, "transhumanism" means his middle path exactly: paying attention to what's going on, what could happen, what's worth keeping, getting or creating, and so forth. Realizing that the issues exist and that we will keep having decisions to make and values to identify.

kurt9 said...

The bioethicists need to recognize the difference between what competent adults do to themselves (adult transformations like radical life extension and cognitive enhancement) and the reproductive issues. Reproduction is a valid area of concern. This is where the bioethics people should focus on. What competent adults do to themselves is purely a personal choice and, as such, a private matter. For bioethicists to involve themselves in this area is a gross violation of privacy. People who would do this deserve nothing but contempt.