morality_play (morality_play) wrote in waldentwo,
morality_play
morality_play
waldentwo

Transhumanism

I’m glad that a community has emerged to discuss Utopian themes, not just as a subject of literature but as a model for society. Right now, the idea that we could have an agenda of improving the human condition has been supplanted in popular consciousness with some very dangerous ideas. Themes of social darwinism and market driven solutions to every problem have come to dominate the mythology of popular imagination. And I don’t think that these ideas entered popular consciousness unaided. They seem to serve an agenda of their own. One that is distinctly anti-utopian.

What I can glean about the themes of this particular forum are very encouraging. There seems to be a somewhat comprehensive anticipation of what Utopia would follow from. That is, there does not seem to be an exclusive preoccupation with ideal political models. The themes listed as interests in the “about” page borrow features from Skinner’s Walden and psychology that invite speculation upon the improvement of our subjective abilities. Can the faculties of our minds be improved? The theme of the rights of animals is also encouraging. It seems to imply there is a moral status to the predicament of being an animal in the natural world that deserves to be redressed.

It is in the spirit of these two themes that I would like to submit two models of utopian strategy that I suspect are overlooked by people interested in intentional communities. The first is transhumanism, a body of thinking which advances the idea that the human condition is something imposed upon us by nature, and that the capabilities nature has endowed us with do not represent the best of all possible worlds. For instance, many of the mental faculties that we possess are not products of design to optimize our mental acumen or acuity. They are an inheritance from our primitive hunter-gatherer ancestors. Our capacities for understanding spatial relationships, mathematical concepts, logic, pattern recognition, etc, are all dictated by an architecture of tissue which emerged from natural selection along the slow-witted path of least resistance. That natural selection has favored this model does not mean that it serves our interests. It merely serves the interests of our genes ability to propagate themselves. Most of our biological endowment is geared towards reproducing instead of something of intellectual merit or moral worth.

Transhumanists identify themselves as reluctant humans, and the object of their inquiry is how we can engineer a superior biological situation for ourselves. Since so much of our human condition is predicated upon our inheritance of primate physiology, and it’s attendant limitations, it could be profitable for a group of utopian strategists to speculate about how we might fundamentally redesign ourselves for ideal living
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