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Promises and perils of emerging technologies for human condition

Voices from four postcommunist Central and East European countries


Edited By Peter Sýkora

Emerging technologies are defined as fast-growing radically novel technologies with an estimated prominent impact on human society in the future. The ambiguity and uncertainty of emerging technologies at the same time raise techno-optimistic expectations, as well as serious worries about possible unwanted and unpredicted negative consequences following their introduction into wider practice. And because of their radical novelty, emerging technologies also challenge various traditional philosophical and ethical concepts, established risk assessment methods, science and technology governance and policies, science to public communication and practices within and outside the medical domain. The aim of this volume is to present the view of ten authors from four postcommunist Central and East European countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Latvia) on emerging technologies and human enhancement. They analyse the topic from various perspectives: anthropological, ethical, philosophical, ontological, empirical, and legal. A variety of views will contribute to a development of the discourse on technology assessment in their countries, help to make the process of national policy and law formation more active and less “mimetic”, and open the national discourses to international discussion and critical analysis.

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Chap. 1. Liminal hotspots, transhumanism, and posthumanism

Chapter 1


Miroslav Popper

Abstract: This chapter situates the debates on transhumanism and posthumanism within a discussion framed by the concepts of ‘liminality’ and ‘liminal hotspots’, which concern the uncertain transition between known and unknown human identity and social structures. It consists of three parts. In the first part, the concepts of liminality and liminal hotspots are explained and then their potential use is considered. The second part looks at the basic ideas of transhumanism as a new philosophical and cultural movement, and the fact that humans and society are continually changing and we therefore need to constantly re-evaluate our world-views. In the last and main part it is argued that the concepts of liminality and liminal hotspot can be a useful tool for understanding many of the fundamental issues, and for introducing ways of ‘calming’ the emotional response to ideas of transhumanism. Seen through the prism of liminal hotspots it becomes clear that transhumanism and posthumanism cannot be evaluated using existing standards of naturalness, ethics, and normativity, since the currently available optics may soon become outdated.

Is our thinking about our ability to cross the boundaries of the human species based on science or science-fiction? If it is a real possibility, should we aim to prevent it by any means or prepare ourselves as best we can for the near future? What kinds of theoretical and conceptual frames are well suited to understanding and elaborating the subject of human enhancement? Transhumanist and posthumanist ideas are...

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