SSI1 173

The Posthuman Future

Students in this course consider how rapid advances in science and technology, especially in biomedicine and cybernetics, may contribute to the alteration, enhancement, and evolution of the human into the "posthuman" or "transhuman." Students also think about some of the important philosophical questions raised by these advances. For example: What is the self and how is it related to the brain, the body, and its extensions? Should parents design their children? Is human cloning immoral? Is radical life extension possible or desirable? Can and should humans take control of their own evolution? Is there a difference between natural and artificial intelligence and will the latter surpass the former? Is real life superior to virtual reality? Students also examine the philosophical roots of transhumanism in the writings of Plato, Descartes, and Nietzsche. Finally, students debate the religious, ethical and political implications of the posthuman future. For example: Are humans now usurping the role of God or nature? Is there a human nature and can it be transcended? Should humans aim to enhance, perfect, or transcend their bodies? Is the goal of human enhancement compatible with egalitarianism? Should human enhancement be left up to market forces or must it be regulated by the state? Are human rights applicable to the posthuman? Do humans have moral or political obligations toward future generations or toward humankind? These questions are examined through the lens of influential cultural works like Brave New World and Gattaca. Affiliate department: Philosophy.