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Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2008

    A risk map not to be ignored

    There is no doubt that Francis Fukuyama is a thinker who performs pretty well in a strategic scale. He aptly outlines one of the leading subjects who will shape the political, cultural, religious and economic clashes of the XX1 century and is as his best both synthesizing a lot of relevant information and detecting as well the transcendence of some debates apparently out of the public and media limelight (such as the Searle-Dennett on the role and nature of consciousness) not only because their implications, but also because they are symptoms of how scientism has taken over more and more territories of the human identity to a point that is not so far away to deny it. But above all the best asset of this book consists on his clear understanding on which is at stake. The disruptive potential of the more extreme forms of technological hubris such as genetic 'improvement 'applied to human genome it is clearly stated: because as unintended consequence it could lead not only to a sort of 'arms race' between states but also within society itself (among private citizens with de facto different access to resources) inequality would acquire another dimension and meaning. Under a perspective where a society of classes could take the path of a society of castes, the whole foundations of political order, as was understood in the western tradition would crumble. The peril is simply that differences in socioeconomic terms turn into a difference in biological terms. The mere possibility of that gap is just unbearable for a modern society. If that happen class struggle never had before a stronger motivation. No less important is his identification of how inadequate is the utilitarian philosophy that pervades economical thinking which its mantra 'minimize pain/maximize pleasure' when it invades other areas of human action especially medical practice. The peril consists on blurring the difference between healing and enhancement. Actually it disorients society in important issues such as how to deal with drugs consumption. We have not to wait to extreme forms of human nature manipulation to detect that trend in the current abuses in using Prozac or Ritalin. Some cases for which the safer bet is to enforce nerve, self control and character are taking short cuts when the easy way is a technological manipulation of behavior. In this sense Fukuyama's strongest point is that even a democratic assumption of enhancement and improvement for everyone -when genetic engineering takes the helm as the leading technology to achieve those goals- is that it is not preposterous to think the biological differentiation of beings it would yield as a result may resemble rather a sort of Nietzschean dystopia where the best intentions of that pursuit have not place at all: a new order where shared human ideals have not to be recognized any longer. Fukuyama without wasting time identifies to which extend the whole conceptual building of the ethical and political tradition -at least of the west- depends on two crucial assumptions: there is a human nature and there is a human dignity. But in taking these issues he falls short. He understands that the challenge to face now is to find new secular foundations to both ideas grounded in the disintegrating bedrock of metaphysics, religion and theology, but far to solve the conundrum (after all the book is only 218 pp long) he rather gets to draw with precision the map of the future battles to come. The author intends a solution alternative to the Kantian sharp distinction between actions based on knowledge and action based on ethics (categorical imperatives) at the time he insists that science does not have -and cannot have- the last world in defining ultimate human values and goals. But he bets anyway in some sort of knowledge in route to find new foundations to the very idea of human nature, so what kind of knowledge could be that? Maybe the sort of knowledge we can find in literature which is not systematic almos

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Can someone spare Francis some science?

    This is one of the most technologically alarmist, scientifically illiterate books I've ever had the displeasure to read. Not only does he use "genetic" interchangeably with "biology," he ignores the role environment plays in the development of organisms, and equates correlation with causation. And don't get me started on his crimes against logic (both as a formal system of reason and more poetically).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2009

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