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Post- and Transhumanism

An Introduction

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Edited By Robert Ranisch and Stefan Lorenz Sorgner

Scientific advances in genetics, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence signal the end of our traditional concept of the human being. The most vigorous movements dealing with this ongoing crisis of humanism are posthumanism and transhumanism. While posthumanism reconsiders what it means to be human, transhumanism actively promotes human enhancement. Both approaches address the posthuman condition in the technological age. In 20 articles, written by leading scholars of the field, this volume provides the first comprehensive introduction to debates beyond humanism.
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Brave New World: Curtis D. Carbonell

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Curtis D. Carbonell

This article emerged out of previous research on the idea that bioluddites misuse Aldous Huxley’s twentieth century, dystopian novel Brave New World (2007 [1932])1 as a scare tactic (see my article, Misreading Brave New World, forthcoming). While this inflammatory approach of some bioluddites such as Francis Fukuyama and Leon Kass2 is echoed in the popular use of the phrase “brave new world” for any new techno-social formation with possible ominous outcomes, Huxley’s Brave New World is best read as a literary science fiction novel that critiques an imagined future utopia he calls the World State, as well as reflects Huxley’s fears of his mid-twentieth century present. Moreover, a more helpful way to approach Brave New World runs counter to a salient feature often mentioned by readers: that there is something prophetic about the novel. Granted, Huxley foresaw a variety of interesting social phenomena from artificial development to rising acceptance of pharmaceuticals to the lowering of sexual mores; but one need not focus on how right the novel is about the present to see its value.

The award winning science fiction novelist Ursula K. Le Guin writes in an introduction to her seminal novel The Left Hand of Darkness that “science fiction is not predictive; it is descriptive” (2000, xii). Moving from the predictive/extrapolative to the descriptive allows us to view Brave New World through other lenses besides those preferred by bioconservatives. This reorients Brave New World for us and helps us understand...

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