In light of a recent article I found on BBC news about the reversal of aging in mice I decided to review a controversial but interesting philosophy that, whenever I mention it in conversation, usually results in puzzled looks. Transhumanism is a worldview that the current condition of humanity is transitional. Transhumanists feel that human beings can willfully improve their intellectual, physical and psychological capacities through applied reason and technology. A more detailed definition can be found at the Humanity+ FAQ. Actually the entire site has a lot of useful information. Humanity+
Transhumanism is an inspiring philosophy. Imagine a world free from disease, suffering and even aging, a world of unlimited psychological and physical capacities, a world of discovery and exploration of not just ourselves but of the world and the cosmos. A world where resources and energy are never wasted and potential is virtually unlimited. Transhumanists envision this as attainable through nanotechnology, medicine, bioengineering and other human innovations in general. No transhumanist denies the possible dangers of unfettered progress but all agree that careful, reasoned, planned progress is the key to unlocking our potential and our progressing to the next step in our evolution.
To transhumanists concepts like longevity, physical and mental performance enhancement and self improvement are a regular part of their lives. Transhumanists reject stifling ideologies of religion and politics that, in their view, merely hold humanity back from reaching its true potential. It’s a worldview and a lifestyle choice that embraces striving for self-actualization/realization as a realistic goal. Sadly for a transhumanists these are ideas that seem to be lost on most to the detriment of themselves and humanity in general.
While there is much to be said about transhumanism that I will try and cover in the next couple of entries I want to first address what I consider to be the belief I personally carry from having learned about transhumanism:
Choosing to live
At this point in history it’s impossible to put off death for long. Even though we have come a long way and people, generally speaking, live longer and healthier than ever before but so far death is unavoidable. In countries where it’s legal one can opt to end their life when appropriate and guided by medical health professionals. However choosing to live as long as we want is currently not an option. While reasons for choosing to live are many and personal it’s a freedom we simply don’t have and given the right circumstances someone should have that choice.
There one and only chance to experience all life has to offer, why do we to simply have let it end when we aren’t done enjoying yet? To quote the Cryonics Institute:
“The conduct of life and the wisdom of the heart are based upon time; in the last quartets of Beethoven, the last words and works of ‘old men’ like Sophocles and Russell and Shaw, we see glimpses of a maturity and substance, an experience and understanding, a grace and a humanity, that isn’t present in children or in teenagers. They attained it because they lived long; because they had time to experience and develop and reflect; time that we might all have. Imagine such individuals – a Benjamin Franklin, a Lincoln, a Newton, a Shakespeare, a Goethe, an Einstein [and a Gandhi] – enriching our world not for a few decades but for centuries. Imagine a world made of such individuals. It would truly be what Arthur C. Clarke called ‘Childhood’s End’ – the beginning of the adulthood of humanity.”
Unless there is no end end to my suffering in sight then I will choose to live and I want that choice.