Fellows Kevin LaGrandeur and Stefan Sorgner are part of an international consortium of institutions working on the Metabody Project, investigating the role technology has on interrelatedness of embodiment and emotion.
By Prof. Dr. Greg Whitlock on Dr. Stefan Lorenz Sorgner.
In his Menschenwürde nach Nietzsche: Die Geschichte eines Begriffes (Human Dignity according to/after Nietzsche: The History of a Concept), Sorgner conceived a bold plan and executed it remarkably well with noteworthy results. His plan entailed presenting four paradigmatic notions of human dignity; next, presenting Nietzsche’s critical evaluation of the notion of human dignity in relation to the four paradigms; and finally, reflecting on Nietzsche’s criticism in a way that embraced much of it and, consequently, largely rejected the humanist notion of the dignity of man. Sorgner took the additional steps of arguing for a posthumanism to replace the outmoded humanist notion of human dignity, as he had developed it. Each phase of the plan was carried out with care in every detail.
Stefan Lorenz Sorgner is extremely productive. Recently he organized a conference in Dubrovnik, he is participating in an analysis of the film “Mensch 2.0 - Die Evolution in unsure Hand” and his most recent monograph is the subject of a symposium organized by the Nietzsche Forum in Munich.
Debate is academically steaming on whether or not Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche’s philosophy specifically represents… Transhumanism. The topic was initiated by IEET Fellow Stefan Sorgner, who wrote his original article, “Nietzsche, the Overhuman, and Transhumanism” in the Journal of Evolution and Technology.
I am focusing here on the main counterarguments that were raised against a thesis I put forward in my article “Nietzsche, the Overhuman, and Transhumanism” (2009), namely that significant similarities can be found on a fundamental level between the concept of the posthuman, as put forward by some transhumanists, and Nietzsche’s concept of the overhuman. The articles with the counterarguments were published in the recent “Nietzsche and European Posthumanisms” issue of The Journal of Evolution and Technology (January-July 2010). As several commentators referred to identical issues, I decided that it would be appropriate not to respond to each of the articles individually, but to focus on the central arguments and to deal with the counterarguments mentioned in the various replies. I am concerned with each topic in a separate section. The sections are entitled as follows: 1. Technology and evolution; 2. Overcoming nihilism; 3. Politics and liberalism; 4. Utilitarianism or virtue ethics?; 5. The good Life; 6. Creativity and the will to power; 7. Immortality and longevity; 8. Logocentrism; 9. The Third Reich. When dealing with the various topics, I am not merely responding to counterarguments; I also raise questions concerning transhumanism and put forward my own views concerning some of the questions I am dealing with.
Bostrom rejects Nietzsche as an ancestor of the transhumanist movement, as he claims that there were merely some “surface-level similarities with the Nietzschean vision” (Bostrom 2005a, 4). In contrast to Bostrom, I think that significant similarities between the posthuman and the overhuman can be found on a fundamental level. In addition, it seems to me that Nietzsche explained the relevance of the overhuman by referring to a dimension which seems to be lacking in transhumanism. In order to explain my position, I will progress as follows. First, I will compare the concept of the posthuman to that of Nietzsche’s overhuman, focusing more on their similarities than their differences. Second, I will contextualise the overhuman in Nietzsche’s general vision, so that I can point out which dimension seems to me to be lacking in transhumanist thought.