Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution

Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution

by Francis Fukuyama
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Overview

Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution by Francis Fukuyama

A decade after his now-famous pronouncement of "the end of history," Francis Fukuyama argues that as a result of biomedical advances, we are facing the possibility of a future in which our humanity itself will be altered beyond recognition. Fukuyama sketches a brief history of man's changing understanding of human nature: from Plato and Aristotle to the modernity's utopians and dictators who sought to remake mankind for ideological ends. Fukuyama argues that the ability to manipulate the DNA of all of one person's descendants will have profound, and potentially terrible, consequences for our political order, even if undertaken with the best of intentions. In Our Posthuman Future, one of our greatest social philosophers begins to describe the potential effects of genetic exploration on the foundation of liberal democracy: the belief that human beings are equal by nature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312421717
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 04/02/2003
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 568,301
Product dimensions: 5.48(w) x 8.17(h) x 0.78(d)

About the Author

Francis Fukuyama teaches at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Trust, The End of History, and The Last Man, among other works. He lives in McLean, Virginia.

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Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although I agree with his ascertions that biotechnology threatens human dignity and freedom, I believe that he is quite off the mark when he insists on the existence of 'human nature.' This assumption brings him dangerously close to those who subscribe to the now infamous 'Bell-Curve' as well as the disciplines of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, both of which are inherently racist and sexist. As 'Our Greatest Social Philosopher,' I seriously question his competence in regard to social theory, specifically the work of Jacques Ellul and Michel Foucault. I was infuriated when he attempted to explain rape and murder in terms of genetic disposition. Although I believe his intentions are positive, he knows next to nothing about the latent amifications of a technological civilization. Read this book if you want an example of what the answer is not. Consult the following to get the answers you deserve.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is something misleading in the title of this work.For it is not really about ' our posthuman future ' but rather about the possible dangers of such a future, and how to in some way regulate it and enable us to preserve our humanity. Fukuyama gives a lucid description of present day technologies, stem- cell research, efforts to extend human life, psychopharmcological developments , in order to probe their possible effects on our ' human nature'. The heart of his argument in the second part of the work is an effort to show that there is a common human nature which it is important to preserve.His critical survey of the opposition to this notion is excellent, while his description of what human nature is though instructive,not absolutely persuasive.In his definition he relies on the emotional aspects of human life and consciousness. And he does make a convincing case that it is impossible to exclude these elements and try to seek our common humanity in some one - dimensional definition, relating perhaps to our rationality or to some ideal of utility, pleasure and pain. What impresses me is the sense that Fukuyama is a deeply humane person , who has a real sense of the complexity of human life and existence. He writes that it cannot be our 'possession of moral choice,or reason,or language, or sociability,or sentience, or emotions or consciousness or any other quality' that constitute the essence of our humanity but rather the whole complex of these taken together. He understands in one of the most telling passages of the book, that 'the fact of the matter is that what we consider to be the highest and most admirable human qualities,both in ourselves and in others are often related to the way we react to ,confront ,overcome,and frequently succumb to pain,suffering and death.In the absence of these human evils there would be no sympathy ,compassion,courage,heroism,solidarity ,or strength of character'. In other words Fukuyama has a deep understanding of the threat presented by utopian efforts to provide mankind with ' happiness ' or ' freedom from pain' or ' supreme intelligence'. He also shows a very considerable sense of responsibility in discussing the kind of political arrangements and safeguards which will probably be required to guard mankind against the disastrous effects of the development of certain technologies. This work is too informed by a certain kind of modesty , and an awareness that the writer does not have all the answers, here and now. It is a work written in a clear and understandablle way on some of the most important questions facing humanity.It is a ' must read' for all who care about the human situation and the human future.
Malcolm_Q More than 1 year ago
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).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago