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Building Better Humans?

Refocusing the Debate on Transhumanism


Edited By Hava Tirosh-Samuelson and Kenneth L. Mossman

This is the first comprehensive, multidisciplinary, inter-religious, and critical engagement with transhumanism as a cultural phenomenon, an ideology, and a philosophy. Situating transhumanism in its proper historical context, the essays reflect on transhumanism from the perspectives of several world religions, ponder the feasibility of regulating human enhancement, tease out the philosophical implications of transhumanism, explore the interplay between technology and culture, and expose the scientific limits of transhumanism. Written by scholars of religious studies, philosophy, history, psychology, neuroscience, immunology, engineering, science/technology studies, and law, the volume encourages readers to examine transhumanism seriously and critically because of its ramifications for the future of humanity.


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The volume is the result of four years of intense deliberations on the meaning, prob- lems, and implications of transhumanism. Titled “Facing the Challenges of Trans- humanism: Religion, Science, and Technology” (, this project was supported by a large grant from the Metanexus Institute given to the Templeton Research Lectures on the Constructive Engagement of Science and Reli- gion (2006-9). The grant sponsored public lectures, three annual workshops, and a monthly, interdisciplinary faculty seminar, resulting in the publication of two books (Allenby and Sarewitz 2011; Mehlman 2011), several essays (Tirosh-Samuelson 2010, 2011), a special issue published first on line ( and then in print (Hansell and Grassie 2011). We hereby express our gratitude to William J. Grassie, the executive director of Metanexus, for his support of the project and his direct involvement in it and the issues it generates. Grassie’s engagement with transhumanism concludes this volume, and these two edited volumes enrich the nascent literature on this impor- tant topic. Most but not all the contributors to this volume participated in the faculty se- minar at Arizona State University (ASU) that lasted for a total of six years (the seminar was established two years before the Templeton Research Lectures were awarded to ASU). We are most indebted to Michael Crow, the president of ASU, for his initial support of the project. An expert on science policy, President Crow’s reflections on the challenges of technology to our democratic society commences the volume, charting the kind of challenges our society will face...

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