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The Common Good in the Public Square


By Felipe Flores

“The merge of humans and machines is fast approaching” Time Magazine.

Based on the webinar “Transhumanism, Aging and End of Life” held on Thursday 11/12.

Transhumanism is a worldview which is somewhat evolutionist in its approach that supports the enhancement and extension of human life by the application and use of technology to alter normal functions of the body or the natural course of life as we know it. In the website humanityplus, they state their support for “longevity and mitigating the disease of aging”. Interestingly, none of these are diseases in medical terms. Anecdotally, Mr. Zoltan Istvan ran a failed presidential campaign in 2016 with Transhumanism as his flagship platform.

Transhumanists claim that technology, in the form of chips, genetic manipulation or AI, just to name a few, are to be used for the betterment (better over well, they claim) and evolution of the human race, which would then justify the means to achieve a -some sort of- painless material or disease-free existence in exchange for a longer life span (think about living 150 or 200 years, for instance) and supposedly achieving happiness that way. To be clear, it is important to distinguish between the use of technology in therapeutic interventions to cure medical diseases -restoring natural functions that are not working well or simply lacking- and transhumanism which seeks to distort natural life by advocating for an “ageless life”. Similarly, death is part of our natural human condition and should not be neglected precisely to boost transcendent happiness. For transhumanists, there does not seem to be room for empathy and compassion, only for physical betterment.

The transhumanist worldview has its pros and cons, but in the end this philosophy would impact society in a harmful and disproportionate way. First, only the wealthy and powerful have access to explore these possibilities and to invest in these “artificial products” that will only increase the size of their pockets. Second, there is no indication that transhumanists might seek to democratize any potential therapeutic benefits they achieve so as to be a means of aiding the sick, most deserving people in the world or to cure widespread diseases in development countries, for instance. Third, transhumanism appears to have created another business industry driven by profits without being socially responsible nor do they seem to have ethical commitment to consider the wellbeing of society or the dignity of the human person when expanding their developments. Fourth, ethically, transhumanist projects are shady, to say the least. Lastly, artificially extending the lifespan of individuals (curing aging and preventing death, in their own words) has huge implications for public policy, governments and their budgets, in terms of healthcare, social security, retirement funds, pollution, workforce size which would create significant impact to the already constrained public resources and policies while undermining the social contract as we know it.

It is absolutely important to support medical innovations and promote healthy lifestyles that would increase the conditions for people to live a meaningful life and to reach their full potential by addressing therapeutic treatments to lethal diseases such as cancer. It is great to use technology to help a quadriplegic person walk again. However, genetic manipulation (like the famous CRISPR project) to achieve a physically “flawless person” and an ageless existence, which is the ultimate goal of transhumanism, is an endeavor that taints natural life while creating big problems for society in the long run. The harms outnumber the benefits by far.

Another way to acknowledge the goals of transhumanism in our daily lives is to think about superheroes or science fiction novels. Transhumanists are pushing for a wide acceptance that “normal humans” should get those enhanced physical capacities (to become stronger, smarter, faster) -just like said superheroes- and to channel attention, resources and justification of means to that end. Paraphrasing Dr. Driver on her fantastic presentation: “what make superheroes’ stories so inspiring and uplifting are their virtues and personal learning shown throughout their journey, not the acquisition of those superpowers per se”.

Meanwhile, all of this is happening with a lack of regulation or even public interest from the government as well as lack of awareness in society. Transhumanists are taking advantage from the inconsistencies that Medicine has shown when trying to self-regulate, and related technology companies are far from reaching a desirable ethical behavior at all, generally speaking. We need to spread awareness of the issue, to request accountability, ethical performance and transparency by these developers of transhumanist projects and to demand the government to catch up with adequate regulatory oversight.

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By Christopher Hunt

“Living Forever”, the Philosophy Behind Transhumanism, Is a Transcendent Not a Materialistic Quest

“All our lives we sweat and save, Building for a shallow grave. Must be something else we say, Somehow to defend this place...” lyrics of The Soft Parade by the Doors. Eternal life on this earth has been a pursuit of some since time immemorial. Today, we have scientists and researchers trying to accomplish this, we have religions such as the Church of Perpetual Life located in Florida that are dedicated to this. Today we have the transhumanist movement.

The longing for eternal life is a God-given, and good desire. The desire to always be with those we love and with the Creator of all is a worthy pursuit; but, like all good desires, these can be twisted toward an evil end. Sadly, this idea of “curing death” is a twisted, disordered desire of the pursuit of the greatest transcendent good, because it seeks to arbitrarily and artificially cure aging and disproportionally extend life span.

The materialist, though not a believer in God or eternity still has an internal longing of the eternal. If the only thing that exists is matter, if there is no such thing as the immaterial, if there is no God and no eternal soul, when our short time on earth is done, we are done. A pure finality. As the materialist 20th century existentialist and feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir explains her contemplation of death after becoming an atheist, “I loved the world, and it was suddenly God whose price was small... one afternoon in Paris I realized that I was condemned to death... I did not attempt to control my despair. I screamed and tore at the red carpet.”

As Beauvoir’s life partner and fellow philosopher of the 20th century Jean-Paul Sartre proclaimed, “Essence does not precede existence. In pure subjectivity the human being is not anything. He is measured by his acts.” - Being Nothingness. With these ideas, will and personal desire is the end all-be all of existence. If this is the entirety of existence, all that we have and are, and after this life we simply no longer are, then this life is the only step of existence. There is no other. This is it. As empty as this might be, if it is all there is, we must cling to it.

For religious people, the meaning of life is to learn who God is and to fall in love with God. To see Him in a special way through His creation of His own image, namely, man. We have need for religion, we have an internal longing for eternal life with God. We see this pursued even by the atheist, the agnostics, the materialists. The only way to have spiritual peace is to practice true religion and hope for rest in the vision of God.

Life garners its value not in longevity, but in the giving of oneself for the other. The greater the love practiced toward our neighbor, the greater the value of the life lived. This holds true in politics and parenting, in working and in leisure. Transhumanism is clinging to creation while rejecting the Creator. This is a movement that must be transcended.

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By Christopher Hunt

Language Gymnastics Are Reaching New Heights

Words. Language. What is their purpose? The purpose of words and of language is the communication of truth, ideas, facts and emotions. It is not the purpose of words and language to deceive. Words should convey a clear meaning. There have always been people keen on deception that have misused words and language. We have the beautiful orators known as the Sophists. That is where we get the word “sophistry.”

Words are abused in myriad ways. The simple use of terms like “escort” to refer to a prostitute or “choice” to describe the termination of a biologically different life developing in the mother’s womb are examples of this abuse. The first is to make less shameful the act of procuring a prostitute (which could lead to trafficking underaged girls), the other to frame the debate over a supposedly prevailing right to terminate the life of the most vulnerable in our society, without any respect to the dignity of a developing human.

Lakoff and Dean talk about “framing the debate” in their book, “Don’t Think of an Elephant!” Debate frames can be honest (social justice) or dishonest (an invading army in reference to refugees at the southern border).

As a matter of historical context, Dr. Bella Dodd (Communist agent converted back to Catholicism) speaks about this ‘art’ of doublespeak in her book, “School of Darkness” as does Skousen (Former FBI agent tasked with fighting communist infiltration in the United States) in his book “The Naked Communist.” This technique functioned in such a manner that indoctrinated communists, when hearing a speech from a communist organizer or politician speaking to a crowd would hear a completely opposed message than what the uninitiated heard.

In our day we have such organizations as the New Pro Life Movement (NPLM) using the same method of co-opting and corrupting the language of the real prolife movement. The NPLM downplayed the old pro-life movement as people that do not care about the mothers and only want to force them to have unwanted babies. They have developed a misleading propaganda against the real pro-life movement, at least to the extent it is publicly known, and they are stealing and corrupting the language. The point here is not about religion but to the seeming deviation from the objective, intrinsic value and dignity of life.

As we peer in another direction of this language conundrum, we have the confusing of gender over biological sex. “Male” and “female,” “him” and “her,” these and other words are being made to be meaningless. Marriage no longer means a long-term commitment and bond between husband and wife. Soon it may be used to signify a bond between a gendered “they” with their cat. Indeed, the City Council of Sommerville, Massachusetts recently approved an ordinance with language inclusive of polyamorous domestic partnerships so at least they did not think marriage could be further expanded too, for now.

Death with dignity. Three words that have been corrupted beyond all imagination. These words mean accelerating the death of the aged and the infirm. What is dignified in helping, facilitating and accelerating the death of your parent, grandparent, spouse, child, sibling or patient? Yet, we have an organization with this as its name which has as its goal the legalization of assisted suicide across the entire United States.

The corruption of language subtly or grossly misleads and affects our ability to think clearly and concisely. The abuse of language opens up avenues of thought that are decrepit. Language, its use and abuse dictates much of our thought. The cultural relativism and twisted public discourse have reached heights in our society that are unfathomable.

Do you find yourself at wits’ end? We certainly do. Where do we go from here? A few suggestions to maintain a healthy, independent and critical mind. We must read and study sound philosophy. We must grow our vocabulary and learn to use words for good, for the common good. We must develop the skills of debate and rhetoric. Storytelling is one of the most popular practices in communication and so we must remain vigilant of its ethical and truthful use and certainly to lead by example.

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