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IEET > Life > Enablement > Vision > Futurism > Fellows > Russell Blackford > Stefan Sorgner

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Was Nietzsche a Transhumanist?

Posted: Apr 24, 2012

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.

The Journal of Evolution and Technology summarily published an issue on the contentious topic, with essays by several scholars:
Russell Blackford Editorial: Nietzsche and European Posthumanisms 
Max More The Overhuman in the Transhuman 
Michael Hauskeller “Nietzsche, the Overhuman and the Posthuman: A Reply to Stefan Sorgner” 
Bill Hibbard Nietzsche’s Overhuman is an Ideal Whereas Posthumans Will be Real 
Russell Blackford (again) Editorial 
Stefan Sorgner Beyond Humanism: Reflections on Trans- and Posthumanism 

Quite recently, this debate was renewed by four Nietzsche scholars, who responded in the journal “The Agonist”:
Keith Ansell Pearson,  The Future is Superhuman: Nietzsche’s Gift
Paul S. Loeb, Nietzsche’s Transhumanism
Babette Babich,  On the “All-too-Human” Dream of Transhumanism

Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, Zarathustra 2.0 and Beyond: Further Remarks on the Complex Relationship between Nietzsche and Transhumanism

Readers -  what’s your opinion? All gloves are off!  Insert your two cents in Comments below:

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Something we can say for sure:
if Nietzsche had been able to foresee transhumanism way back when, he would have been a transhumanist.

...all gloves are off? what’s my opinion? will insert one cent (adjusted for grade inflation):
the quote below is excessively pettifogging; IMO merely write Nietzsche would have been a transhumanist and—one might add—a transhuman—because he would avail himself of the treatments and surgeries of today if he were our contemporary. Nietzsche made it clear he wanted to get ahead in life, he was no shrinking violet; yes, this is assertion.. however you cannot go by 19th century writings, no one in the 19th century would have been so daring (or foolhardy) to have anticipated “transhumanism”  two or three generations before the word had been coined. You cannot always go by the letter as sometimes the spirit is valid because, to be pettifogging myself, when I questioned the inclusion of religion and spirituality at IEET the response was IEET is openminded; thus it is fair game to speculate at such a site that Nietzsche would not only be interested in transhumanism if he lived in our era, but he would be a transhuman as well. ‘Course, in a professional paper one has to be more objective smile

“Sorgner tells us in his essay what, in his judgment, Nietzsche would have ‘liked.’ Hence we are informed that Nietzsche would have been an advocate of transhumanism. This is an argument by assertion.
In one case, I mentioned that given the structural analogies of genetic enhancement by means of the alteration of genes and classical education and the relevance of education for bringing about the overhuman according to Nietzsche provides us with a reason for assuming that he might have also been in favor of certain genetic enhancement technologies. I stressed that these reflections provide us with a reason for asserting that the fact that genetic enhancement procedures play an important role in transhumanist reflections but do not and cannot turn up in Nietzsche’s philosophy is not a reason for dissociating Nietzsche from the transhumanist movement. However, this does not imply that I claim to know what Nietzsche would have liked or that he necessarily would have been in favor of transhumanist ideals. Both claims are far too strong.”

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