Version 2.0 (March 2002)
James J. Hughes, Ph.D.
Originally Presented at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the
Society for Social Studies of Science
November 1-4, 2001
Transhumanism is an emergent philosophical movement which says that humans can and should become more than human through technological enhancements. Contemporary transhumanism has grown out of white, male, affluent, American Internet culture, and its political perspective has generally been a militant version of the libertarianism typical of that culture. Nonetheless transhumanists are becoming more diverse, with some building a broad liberal democratic philosophic foundation in the World Transhumanist Association. A variety of left futurist trends and projects are discussed as a proto-“democratic transhumanism.” The essay also discusses the reaction of transhumanists to a small group of neo-Nazis who have attempted to attach themselves to the transhumanist movement. For the transhumanist movement to grow and become a serious challenge to their opposites, the bio-Luddites, they will need to distance themselves from their elitist anarcho-capitalist roots and clarify commitments to liberal democratic institutions, values and public policies. By embracing political engagement and the use of government to address equity, safety and efficacy concerns about transhuman technologies, transhumanists are in a better position to attract a larger, broader audience.