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The Politics of Transhumanism and the Techno-Millennial Imagination, 1626-2030
J. Hughes   May 1, 2013   Zygon  

Abstract: Transhumanism is a modern expression of ancient and transcultural aspirations to radically transform human existence, socially and bodily. Before the Enlightenment these aspirations were only expressed in religious millennialism, magical medicine and spiritual practices. The Enlightenment channeled these desires into projects to use science and technology to improve health, longevity and human abilities, and to use reason to revolutionize society. Since the Enlightenment techno-utopian movements have dynamically interacted with supernaturalist millennialism, sometimes syncretically, and often in violent opposition.

Today the transhumanist movement, a modern form of Enlightenment techno-utopianism, has evolved a number of sub-sects, from the libertarian utopians funded by billionaire Peter Thiel, to religious syncretists like the Mormon Transhumanist Association, to the left-wing technoprogressives and their bioliberal intellectual allies. In reaction to accelerating technological innovation and transhumanist ideas apocalyptic Christians, and even secular catastrophists, have begun to incorporate human enhancement into their EndTimes scenarios. With all sides believing that the fate of humanity hangs in the balance there is a growing likelihood of violent confrontation.

PREPRINT of Hughes, James. 2012. “The Politics of Transhumanism and
the Techno-Millennial Imagination, 1626-2030,” Zygon 47(4): 757–776.

James Hughes Ph.D., the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, is a bioethicist and sociologist who serves as the Associate Provost for Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning for the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is author of Citizen Cyborg and is working on a second book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha. From 1999-2011 he produced the syndicated weekly radio program, Changesurfer Radio. (Subscribe to the J. Hughes RSS feed)

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