Two weeks ago we asked how pills that safely “make people nicer by increasing their patience and empathy” should be regulated. Of the more than 250 people who voted, two thirds endorsed wide access to such drugs. (We will be sponsoring a conference at NYU in two weeks to discuss the topic of moral enhancement.)
Mar 23, 2012
Apprenticeshipby David Brin
One of the most vexing questions for technoprogressives and transhumanists is how to maintain the hard-won gains toward political equality among citizens as we become more diverse in our bodies and abilities. Francis Fukuyama pointed to the challenge in Our Posthuman Future, and Nicholas Agar addressed the issue in Humanity’s End. Technoprogressives believe that an expanded transhuman solidarity is possible if enhancement is made widely and equitably available, and if we we fight for a society committed to the rights of all persons. But it won’t be easy. In this story David Brin reflects on political and even theological challenges of the advent of a society with radical enhancement.
Mar 21, 2012
Can A Pill Make Us More Moral?Colin McEnroe Show
IEET Executive Director J. Hughes, IEET Fellow Wendell Wallach and bioethicist Fabrice Jotterand join Connecticut public radio talk show host Colin McEnroe to discuss the exploding topic of “moral enhancement.”
Mar 21, 2012
After Happiness, Cyborg Virtueby J. Hughes
Although I have used a version of utilitarianism to argue for both transhumanism and social democracy, and for the technoprogressive hybrid of the two, research in hedonic psychology and emerging neurotechnologies make utilitarianism an unattractive moral logic. Instead, I now argue that a version of Sen and Nussbaum’s capabilities approach better supports the technoprogressive endeavor. The capabilities approach argues for both social and technological enablement of human abilities. When the capabilities approach is combined with the idea that virtues are social capabilities, one conclusion is that “moral enhancement,” the use of neurotechnologies to enhance moral sentiment, cognition and behavior, is a social obligation. A schema of virtues to be enhanced, and relevant therapeutic morally enhancing neurochemicals, are discussed.
Mar 18, 2012
Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendenceTEDtalksDirector
Psychologist Jonathan Haidt asks a simple, but difficult question: why do we search for self-transcendence? Why do we attempt to lose ourselves? In a tour through the science of evolution by group selection, he proposes a provocative answer.
Mar 8, 2012
Buddhist Feminism (Part 4)by J. Hughes
Western Buddhists, taking Asian Buddhism and attempting to shape a modern Buddhism from it, have different challenges and opportunities. For instance, for better or worse, we do not have strong norms to guide the relations of the sexes as in Buddhist countries. Sadly, we must even beware of the sexual abuse of power by Buddhist teachers.
Mar 7, 2012
Buddhist Feminism (Part 3)by J. Hughes
When the Hindu Tantric tradition began to seep into Buddhism, with its complicated sexual yogas and meditation, it had a radical effect on certain Buddhists’ attitude toward women. The earthiness and sensuality attributed to women, which the sexist side of Buddhism saw as their spiritual weakness, became a spiritual power in Tantric Buddhism. The female yogi, “yogini”, who channels her sexual energy into meditation in the midst of the sex act was seen as one of the most important teachers a Tantric monk could have (an idea reflected in Herman Hesse’s novel SIDDHARTHA). For instance, the Tantric master Marpa, and his wife, shared a “long and highly fruitful relationship” with the consort-guruess Da-me-ma, and the Tantrist Savari was taught by two sisters, Logi and Guni, who, As Tantric consorts, helped him to important breakthroughs on his path.
Mar 6, 2012
Buddhist Feminism (Part 2)by J. Hughes
To modern feminists who have grown up in an era of relative sexual freedom it is difficult to understand that till the present virtually the only way a woman could be free of being a sex object for males was to renounce sexuality altogether. As this song from the Therigatha illustrates, the Buddhist teachings helped empower women to cut through the tangle of humiliating sexuality:
Mar 5, 2012
Talking With a Buddhist NunEmpty Mind Films
This is Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo who opened a nunnery for refugee Tibetan Women. Her story became a best selling book about her 12 year retreat in a Himalayan mountain cave.
Mar 5, 2012
Buddhist Feminism (Part 1)by J. Hughes
I was raised in the Unitarian Universalist tradition, which combines an openness to the wisdom of all faiths, Enlightenment skepticism about the supernatural, and a commitment to liberal and egalitarian political values. When I became a Buddhist (Tibetan originally) and political radical (Yippie, then socialist) in high school I brought along a very UU orientation. I began trying to puzzle out what the relationship could be between my socialist-feminism and Buddhism’s proposals of overcoming suffering through moral and psychological reform, a concern with connecting the micro and macro that I am still working on in various ways.