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Promises and perils of emerging technologies for human condition

Voices from four postcommunist Central and East European countries

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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. 3. Transhumanism and immortality

Chapter 3

Extract

Juraj Odorčák



Abstract: This chapter is a critical appraisal of the relationship between transhumanism and immortality. Immortality is accepted in transhumanism because it protects from the main badness of death, which is the absence of any possible enhancement. This chapter defines two kinds of immortality. These are then tested against two well-known philosophical arguments against immortality. Finally, it is argued that transhumanism is partially capable of refuting these objections to immortality.

Who wouldn’t want to be immortal? Agnes doesn’t. But Laura, her sister, does. Laura can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to be immortal. Agnes can’t understand why anyone would. Agnes and Laura live in perpetual conflict. Agnes gives up and dies. Laura wins. She takes Agnes’s place, and dies too. In his novel Immortality Milan Kundera contemplates metaphorical immortality: People are alive so long as someone else remembers them (Kundera, 2006). Some people think not only about the memories of others but also about non-metaphorical immortality. This chapter is an analytical appraisal of the positive relation between transhumanism and immortality. In contrast to transhumanism, philosophy treats immortality with suspicion. Hence this chapter is an attempt to highlight both transhumanist and critical views of immortality. Laura and Agnes have both a role to play.

The first part of the chapter is devoted to defining transhumanism and its relation to immortality. It is a relation based on a negative appraisal of death. This critical view of death allows us to understand two...

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