Is transhumanism a misnomer?

As a community organizer for a transhumanist movement I have the great pleasure of meeting people from all walks of life and understanding their positions on the future. In a previous post to IEET, where I examined if transhumanism is a religion [1]  (it turns out that it actually is not, but facts rarely suppress belief) “Pastor Alex” mentioned in the comments that what things appear to be can be more important that what they are defined to be. Although I believe definitions are crucial to intelligent decision-making and conflict resolution, he raises an excellent point that humans rarely make intelligent decisions.

 

We don’t take the time to define parameters; we slap judgments on things and go about our business. Our evolutionary biology has favored snap judgments made on little information, fight or flight. First impressions are lasting still, even though we all have heard the “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” line, we generally still do. As a young and non-Caucasian American I deal with this reality daily, it’s annoying, frustrating and diminishes tips dramatically. As is with almost any disagreeable philosophy calling it a religion is convenient, especially atheism, communism and transhumanism. Although the current definition of transhumanism [2] is accurate, most people aren’t reading the book, just judging its cover.

 

Transhumanism as a label I have never favored. I have found that the term generally has the opposite effect of its intended purpose. Instead of highlighting the need for a greater acceptance of humanity, it comes off to the layman as a divergence from what they believe to be humanity. I will simply link here to a blog post of mine on the difference between Human and Homo sapiens. [3] It is an intriguing argument that follows the same logic of my first citation. Unfortunately Homo sapiens are not well adapted to admitting errors. Before you throw the trial and error gave us tools and blah 3x, I submit that a handful of brilliant and dedicated people dragged the rest of us kicking and screaming into the future, the same is occurring now. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead, we think.

 

I do not find transhumanism to differ in any significant aspect from the greater theory of evolution at all. However, Darwinists often show a hesitation to accept transhumanism, and not even simply on the skeptical basis of technological incorporation. Which would be fine, transhumanism does not specifically imply the need for technology in our evolution but rather acknowledges its likelihood given our current lifestyle. Those of us who accept evolution are comfortable with the knowledge that we evolved into Homo sapiens but are not comfortable with the prospect of evolving out of Homo sapiens. If you didn’t read the Human vs. Homo sapiens blog, evolving does not imply you are no longer human.

 

People who reject evolution all together largely won’t subscribe to transhumanism either, no surprise. Oddly though this group of people fuels the growth of transhumanism in many ways. The concept of transhumanism would not exist if we had a starkly different perception of the self. [4] The quest for godliness, which is how transhumanism is perceived (and by some definitions is correct,) is a direct correlation to the conceptions of self that today’s dominant theism has so successfully spread throughout the world. We would never have reached a reality mirroring ours as it does today with a conception of self that mirrored the Native Americans. I credit the proselytizing faiths and their belief in the need for grace and redemption for creating the social circumstances that birthed our desire to control the elements of the universe like the God they idolized for us.

 

So how can we repackage transhumanism to be more easily interpreted by the mob? The symbol H+ is already in use but it is really just an abbreviation that makes the term palatable to the majority of readers (applied loosely) who do no appreciate compound vocabulary. The Mormon Transhumanist Association [5] (a great example of how idolatry has influenced the rise of h+) has coined the term “Transfigurism” which has special connotations to their own faith and removes them somewhat from guilt by association with the generally atheistic transhumanists. There is my own organization as well, Terasem, which combines principles of many faiths, but all of these are just fragmenting the whole and not representative of transhumanity.

 

Ultimately the showdown must come over the acceptance of evolution, which transhumanism is nothing more than a forward acceptance of. If we came from somewhere it means we are headed somewhere, we didn’t evolve this far just to stop. Assuming we were created in our current form, that doesn’t mean we were intended to stay that way. We evolve throughout our lives, we do not give birth to clones but entirely unique new life. No matter where you think you came from to get here, you can only stop yourself from moving forward, life will continue without you.

 

[1] http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/gabrielrothblatt20120607

[2] http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/transhumanism

[3] https://terasemian.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/homo-sapiens-and-humanity/

[4] http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/gabrielrothblatt20120420

[5] www.transfigurism.org

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