The Transhumanist Imagination: Innovation, Secularization, and Eschatology
April 9, 2012
Arizona State university
The term “transhumanism” denotes an ideology of extreme progress, giving coherence to the accelerated pace of advances in science and technology. As a future-oriented outlook, transhumanism offers a vision of and for humanity in which genetically enhanced humans will live extremely long, intensely happy lives, free of pain and disease. In this imagination of the future, humans will be liberated from the constraints of embodiment and will triumph over death by uploading the mind into machines.
Transhumanism is, fundamentally, an eschatological narrative with ramifications that go well beyond the transhumanist community itself. It draws together a range of religious and secular motifs around an ideology of innovation, thereby giving rise to distinctive social practices, norms, policies and institutions with implications for human flourishing now and into the future. Some of the questions to be examined during this workshop include:
1. How does the transhumanist (religious?) narrative about the posthuman future stimulate technological innovations?
2. To what extent does the techno-social imagination illustrate the hybridization of religious and secular discourses?
3. What are the social and political ramifications of the transhumanist project, especially for liberal democracies?
4. Does transhumanism manifest the post-secular moment?
5. How should we study socio-technical imaginaries comparatively?
6. How do transhumanism and posthumanism reconfigure the relationship between modernism and postmodernism?
Prior to the conference, a faculty seminar will be engaging these questions by focusing on the works of Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, Cary Wolfe, and some essays about socio-technical imaginaries by Sheila Jasanoff, William Bainbridge, and Ilya Klieger and Nasser Zakariah.
Recommended reading includes: Jürgen Habermas, The Future of Human Nature (2003) Jürgen Habermas, An Awareness of What is Missing: Faith and Reason in the Post-Secular Age (2010) Cary Wolfe, What is Posthumanism? (2010) Charles Taylor, Modern Social Imaginaries (2003)
Workshop talks include include:
The Politics of Transhumanism and the Techno-Millennial Imagination, 1626-2030
It’s Virtually the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine): Games, Play, and the Transhuman Inclination
Conflicting visions: speciation and hybridization in religious and secular eschatologies
Molecular Necromancy: Nanoscience and the Postmortal Condition