This article is intended to offer constructive criticism of the transhumanist imperative of advancing the creation of living beings beyond the human. For this purpose, the conditions of possibility for the emergence and long-term survival of transhuman beings will be identified and examined, particularly within the framework of an enactive understanding of evolution according to Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and others. Transhuman beings, that is, technically corrected and upgraded entities, have their origin in human individuals whose essential characteristics I consider to be (1) their participation in life and their performance of life and (2) their sense-making cognitive activity—both describable by the autopoietic idea of Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. I demonstrate that transhuman beings, which are assumed to share these features with humans and which I therefore describe by the term enactive, can only develop and stay alive if mutual adaptation between them and their environment is maintained. To achieve adaptation, enactive transhuman beings must exhibit the ability to adapt on their own—making adaptedness and adaptability conditions of possibility for the emergence and long-term survival of enactive transhuman beings. From this perspective, optimizing and therapeutic interventions into so-called human nature, which has always possessed a technical–cultural side, are an expression of human adaptability and enable new adaptive equilibria between transhuman being and environment on a phylogenetic level. Therefore, I advocate a moderate transhumanism that seeks to preserve this mutual adaptedness while expanding the (trans)human capacity for adaptation.
Evolution of Enactive Transhuman Beings: Moderate Transhumanism in Conservation of Adaptation
Stefan Lorenz Günthner received his diploma in physics from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, in 2000 with a thesis in theoretical astrophysics. In 2006, he earned his doctorate from Saarland University, Germany, on the topic of micromechanical gyroscopes. Since 2001, he has been working in development departments of various companies in different areas of responsibility, and he is currently engaged in the development of software for automated driving. To satisfy his growing interest in philosophy and evolutionary theories, he took up the study of technology and philosophy at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, graduating with a master’s degree in 2021; his research interests include philosophy of mind and recent naturalized epistemologies.
Stefan Lorenz Günthner; Evolution of Enactive Transhuman Beings: Moderate Transhumanism in Conservation of Adaptation. Journal of Posthuman Studies 1 December 2021; 5 (2): 109–129. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/jpoststud.5.2.0109
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