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Sexual Liberation and the Emergence of Transhumanism

Sexual liberation and transhumanism share an anthropology. Both view the human person as an emergent phenomenon, and as something malleable. Both view the self as sovereign, the will as ultimately answerable to nothing other than its own prerogatives. Exploring the intersection between these two movements requires me to give an account of technology. In speaking of “technology” I am broadly concerned with the instrumental mentality, with that modern edifice which—to paraphrase Heidegger—puts to nature an unreasonable demand, and which both sexual liberation and transhumanism recapitulate in their attitudes toward the human body. Technology is mechanistic (reductively focused on efficient causation), utilitarian (reasoning by a calculus and willing to treat persons as means to an end), and voluntaristic (taking the exercise of will as the measure of value). The starting premise of sexual liberation is a mechanistic, utilitarian, and voluntaristic theory of the human. Transhumanism is this theory taken to its logical conclusion.

At the root of the connection between sexual liberation and transhumanism is the political ideology of liberalism. Thomas Pfau is interrogating the core assumption of liberalism when he asks, “Can one plausibly identify as the Archimedean point for a just and ethical community a being defined above all by its claim to autonomy from all other such individuals and aspiring to live its life within a cocoon of economic, political and personal rights and preferences?” This is what I have in mind when I speak of liberalism, that political ideology for which “the only viable conception of human agency [is] constitutively self-enclosed, self-seeking and self-legitimating.” Sexual liberation and transhumanism are characteristically liberal in that they share these same background assumptions about what humans are. Liberation in the modern sense is the attempt to make this particular picture of the human being a reality.

Read more at Crisis. 

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