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Source: Forbes Magazine
 

"Why do the nations rage? Why do the people waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against His Anointed One. 'Let us break their chains,' they cry. 'And free ourselves from this slavery.' But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them." Psalms 2:1-4

     
   

Transhumanism (also abbreviated as H+) is a philosophical movement which advocates for technology not only enhancing human life, but to take over human life by merging human and machine. The idea is that in one future day, humans will be vastly more intelligent, healthy, and physically powerful. In fact, much of this movement is based upon the notion that death is not an option with a focus to improve the somatic body and make humans immortal.

Certainly, there are those in the movement who espouse the most extreme virtues of transhumanism such as replacing perfectly healthy body parts with artificial limbs. But medical ethicists raise this and other issues as the reason why transhumanism is so dangerous to humans when what is considered acceptable life-enhancement has virtually no checks and balances over who gets a say when we “go too far.” For instance, Kevin Warwick of Coventry University, a cybernetics expert, asked the Guardian, “What is wrong with replacing imperfect bits of your body with artificial parts that will allow you to perform better – or which might allow you to live longer?” while another doctor stated that he would have “no part” in such surgeries. There is, after all, a difference between placing a pacemaker or performing laser eye surgery on the body to prolong human life and lend a greater degree of quality to human life, and that of treating the human body as a tabula rasa upon which to rewrite what is, effectively, the natural course of human life.

A largely intellectual movement whose aim is to transform humanity through the development of a panoply of technologies which ostensibly enhance human intellect, physiology, and the very legal status of what being human means, transhumanism is a social project whose inspiration can be dated back to 19th century continental European philosophy and later through the writings of J. B. S. Haldane, a British scientist and Marxist, who in 1923 delivered a speech at the Heretics Society, an intellectual club at Cambridge University, entitled “Daedalus or, Science and the Future” which foretold the future of the end of of coal for power generation in Britain while proposing a network of windmills which would “be used for the electrolytic decomposition of water into oxygen and hydrogen” (they would generate hydrogen). According to many transhumanists, this is one of the founding projects of the movement. To read this one might think this was a precursor to the contemporary ecological movement.

The philosophical tenets, academic theories, and institutional practices of transhumanism are well-known. Max More, a British philosopher and leader of the extropian movement claims that transhumanism is the “continuation and acceleration of the evolution of intelligent life beyond its currently human form and human limitations by means of science and technology, guided by life-promoting principles and values.” This very definition, however, is a paradox since the ethos of this movement is to promote life through that which is not life, even by removing pieces of life, to create something billed as meta-life. Indeed, it is clear that transhumanism banks on its own contradiction: that life is deficient as is, yet can be bettered by prolonging life even to the detriment of life.

Stefan Lorenz Sorgner is a German philosopher and bioethicist who has written widely on the ethical implications of transhumanism to include writings on cryonics and longevity of human life, all of which which go against most ecological principles given the amount of resources needed to keep a body in “suspended animation” post-death. At the heart of Sorgner’s writings, like those of Kyle Munkittrick, invoke an almost naďve rejection of death, noting that death is neither “natural” nor a part of human evolution. In fact, much of the writings on transhumanism take a radical approach to technology: anyone who dare question that cutting off healthy limbs to make make way for a super-Olympian sportsperson would be called a Luddite, anti-technology. But that is a false dichotomy since most critics of transhumanism are not against all technology, but question the ethics of any technology that interferes with the human rights of humans.

Take for instance the recent push by many on the ostensible Left who favor surrogacy as a step on the transhumanist ladder, with many publications on this subject, none so far which address the human rights of women who are not only part of this equation, but whose bodies are being used in the this faux-futurist vision of life without the mention of female bodies. Verso’s publication of a troubling piece by Sophie Lewis earlier this year, aptly titled “Gestators of All Genders Unite” speaks to the lack of ethics in a field that seems to be grasping at straws in removing the very mention of the bodies which reproduce and give birth to human life: females. In eliminating the specificity of the female body, Lewis attempts to stitch together a utopian future where “genders” are having children, even though the reality of reproduction across the Mammalia class demonstrates that sex, not gender, determines where life is gestated and birthed. What Lewis attempts in fictionalizing a world of dreamy hopefulness actually resembles more an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale where this writer has lost sense of any irony. Of course pregnancy is not about gender. It is uniquely about sex and the class of “gestators” are females under erasure by this dystopian movement anxious to pursue a vision of a world without women.

While many transhumanist ideals remain purely theoretical in scope, what is clear is that females are the class of humans who are being theorised out of social and political discourse. Indeed, much of the social philosophy surrounding transhumanist projects sets out to eliminate gender in the human species through the application of advanced biotechnology and assisted reproductive technologies, ultimately inspired by Shulamith Firestone's The Dialectic of Sex and much of Donna Haraway’s writing on cyborgs. From parthenogenesis to the creation of artificial wombs, this movement seeks to remove the specificity of not gender, but sex, through the elision of medical terminology and procedures which portend to advance a technological human-cyborg built on the ideals of a post-sex model.

The problem, however, is that women are quite aware that sex-based inequality has zilch to do with anything other than their somatic sex. And nothing transhumanist theories can propose will wash away the reality of the sexed human body upon which social stereotypes are plied.


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