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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. 5. The pragmatist philosophical view of human enhancement

Chapter 5

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Emil Višňovský



Abstract: The chapter provides a brief overview of the current contexts and key issues in the transhumanist idea of human enhancement. From a philosophical viewpoint transhumanism is a continuation of the ancient ideas of human perfection and perfectionism. When taken in abstracto from other ethical ideas such as happiness, dignity, self-care, and self-regulation, transhumanism may have problematic consequences. The chapter further provides an account of pragmatist philosophical humanism which suggests that at times it resembles a precursor of or a very close ally to transhumanism. However, the author concludes that, despite the fact that we can find support for the idea of ‘transformism’ in pragmatist humanism, ultimately it is about achieving the good life and good society, and not about the radical enhancement of biological human nature via (bio)technology.

Contemporary transhumanism as the promotion of the idea of “human enhancement” (Bostrom, 2005; Savulescu and Bostrom, 2009) can neither be considered a straightforward anti-humanism, nor a Foucauldian or Adornian critique of humanism in the “end of man” sense or “disgust” at all that humans are capable of inflicting on one other. Rather it is “superhumanism” in the sense of improving and going beyond the natural, organic (biological) limits and potential of human beings. But what they all have in common is a rejection of human beings as we know them. Thus from the perspective of traditional humanism they can justifiably be regarded as nihilism (the annihilation of humanness). The other commonality...

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