Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Future of Human Nature


Bodies stuffed with prosthesis to boost performance, the intelligence of angels available on hard drives, these are fantastical images. There is a fusion, between the organically grown and technologically made on the one hand, and the separation of the human mind from live subjectivity on the other.

Whether these speculations are the product of a feverish imagination or serious predictions, I refer to them only as examples of an instrumentalization of human nature initiating a change in our self-understanding as a species.

The manipulation of the human genome, which is being aggressively decoded, and the hope entertained by certain scientists of soon being able to take evolution into their own hands, after all, uproot the distinction between the subjective and the objective, the naturally grown and technologically made, man and machine. What is at stake is the future of the human species as we know it, and our ability to conceive of ourselves as the authors of our own life stories.

The ruthless intrusion into the makeup of the human genome of the embryo will blur the intuitive distinction between the grown and the made, ones “self” and the engineers “program”—with repercussions reaching as far as the self-reference of the person to his or her own bodily existence. The vanishing point of self-hood lies somewhere in the extent to which an adolescent’s body, for example, is revealed to him as eugenically manipulated, as something which is also “made.” Here the first-person perspective of “being-oneself” collides with the third-person external perspective of “being-an-observer-to-one’s-own-life.”

“Did I do that?” the adolescent asks himself, “or was that the hand of my genetic engineer, reaching through my genome, who really chose to do that for me?”

Genetically fixed demands are irreversible and cannot be responded to. Will the adolescent ever feel like the undivided author of his own life story again, or but a co-author, or worse, less? And who will be held responsible for his actions? The programming intentions of parents or of the state might have existential consequences for the pre-programmed adolescent. The change would take place in the mind.

This does not seem like an enhancement to me, but rather the exercise of power of those living today over those coming after. The other side of genetic power today, is the future bondage of the living dead. How might this new and a-symmetrical power of the past over the future be shattered?

11 comments:

Ambivorous said...

Soylent Green . . . . is people!!!

Akin said...

Ryan, thank you for all :-) Greetings from Poland !

fanboi said...

what cute little genetic stock. I wonder if they'll make toys?

Patrick said...

The human genome is altered everyday by viruses, the food you eat, tanning beds, anything that is can be a mutagen. Asparagus has enough mutagens to "alter" the human genome to cause cancer, should we ban asparagus?

Are alterations in the human genome dangerous even though they occur every single moment? A human cell cannot replicate itself without alterations in the human genome.

Rodney said...

The human genome has undergone approximately 3,000 major changes in the last 60,000 years*. We are as genetically different from the humans who lived during the last Ice Age as they were from the Neanderthals.

* or "10x a Young Earth" in Hillbilly-Speak.

F said...

closet faggot.

kryspn said...

so this is where bat boy came from. Good job ryan, you're an invaluable assest to your cause.

John Howard said...

Hi Ryan, thank you for your short clear explanation at CPAC of, well, you know, you said it better than me.

I am very pleased to come to your blog and see that you posted this last year. I actually haven't read past the first paragraph yet, but I can tell we are on the same page, this is what I've been writing about too at my blog eggandsperm.blogspot.com

Stay strong and please check out my blog and maybe even you would like to support my Egg and Sperm Civil Union Compromise proposal to preserve marriage and keep us connected to nature and natural law.

SPARC said...

"The manipulation of the human genome, which is being aggressively decoded, and the hope entertained by certain scientists of soon being able to take evolution into their own hands, after all, uproot the distinction between the subjective and the objective, the naturally grown and technologically made, man and machine. What is at stake is the future of the human species as we know it, and our ability to conceive of ourselves as the authors of our own life stories.

The ruthless intrusion into the makeup of the human genome of the embryo will blur the intuitive distinction between the grown and the made, ones “self” and the engineers “program”—with repercussions reaching as far as the self-reference of the person to his or her own bodily existence. The vanishing point of self-hood lies somewhere in the extent to which an adolescent’s body, for example, is revealed to him as eugenically manipulated, as something which is also “made.” Here the first-person perspective of “being-oneself” collides with the third-person external perspective of “being-an-observer-to-one’s-own-life.”

“Did I do that?” the adolescent asks himself, “or was that the hand of my genetic engineer, reaching through my genome, who really chose to do that for me?”

That's exactly what Intelligent Design is about.

Paladinerd said...

Nutjobs like you made me leave the Republican party.

John Howard said...

Yeah, SPARC: "Intelligent Design" is a fraud, it is a way to confuse people. Creationism is fine the way it is, there is nothing wrong with it. Genesis explains evolution and fossils and everything else just fine. ID is a creation of the Discovery Institute which refuses to condemn genetic engineering, they seem to be in favor of allowing genetic engineering and same-sex conception. They thought up ID to replace Creationism and create a little stepping stone to make people think that genetic engineering is OK, it's just more "intelligent design". Ryan has it right though, I think he's read CS Lewis's The Abolition Of Man.