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Trivent Transhumanism



HEAD OF IMPRINT:

Prof. Dr. Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, ssorgner@johncabot.edu

Chair of the Department of History and Humanities at John Cabot University in Rome



SERIES IN THE IMPRINT:

Ethics and Robotics, ed. Steven Umbrello 

Transhumanism and Theology, ed. Benedikt Paul Göcke



IMPRINT DESCRIPTION:

The word transhumanism can be traced to the word “transumanar” which was coined by Dante in the following lines of his text on the paradise:

“Trasumanar signifi car per verba

non si poria; per o l’essemplo basti

a cui esperienza grazia serba.”

(Paradiso, Canto I)

The word “trasumanar” means to move beyond the limitations of the human. However, this does not turn Dante into a transhumanist, as he did not use it to refer to a this-worldly evolution. The concept of transhumanism, as used in the context of this book series, was developed by Julian Huxley in 1951. The first director general of the UNESCO used the following explanation to shed further light on what transhumanism means:

“Such a broad philosophy might perhaps best be called, not Humanism, because that has certain unsatisfactory connotations, but Transhumanism. It is the idea of humanity attempting to overcome its limitations and to arrive at fuller fruition; it is the realization that both individual and social development are processes of self-transformation.”

The idea of attempting to overcome limitations for increasing the quality of life is central to transhumanism. For most transhumanists, the goal of increasing the healthspan is central, as there seems to be a widely-shared correlation between the quality of life and an increased healthspan. The term “posthuman” usually stands for someone who has realized to overcome prior limitations by means of enhancing evolution. The technologies which are most promising for increasing the likelihood of the posthuman to come about are digitalisation, brain-computer-interfaces, and gene technologies. Consequently, the ethics of emerging technologies is a central discipline for intellectual exchanges by transhumanists. 

Twenty years ago, there have been many intense reactions by world-leading intellectuals to transhumanism. In 2001, Habermas identified transhumanists with “freaked-out intellectuals,” who as “self-styled Nietzscheans” present “all-too-familiar motives of a very German ideology.” In 2004, Francis Fukuyama refers to transhumanism as the most dangerous idea in the world. In the meantime, the situation is different. The educated public is familiar with several ideas which are being associated with transhumanism. Series like Black Mirror, West World, and Electric Dreams have dealt with several transhumanist challenges. The Hollywood movie Transcendence with Johnny Depp, the series Big Bang Theory , as well as the novel Inferno by Dan Brown have reached an audience of millions of people, and all of them have presented aspects of transhumanism. Many of today’s leading entrepreneurs and innovators regard themselves as transhumanists, e.g. Martine Rothblatt, Peter Thiel, Aubrey de Grey, Ray Kurzweil, Elon Musk. 

While many transhumanist ideas are being discussed in the wider public, the intellectual engagement with transhumanist reflections by scholars at universities has been scarce. It is the goal of this publishing enterprise to change this situation, as transhumanism goes along with many paradigm-shifting reflections, which need to be analysed by the best thinkers of our times.

Trivent Transhumanism

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