Giving Birth, Transhumanism and Human Nature

Revista de Filosofia Aurora 33 (59):631-651 (2021)
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Abstract

Philosopher Fiona Wollard recently advocated interpreting the achievements of women while giving birth. People readily recognize men-related achievements, like running a marathon, but not achievements related to giving birth. We expand on Woollard's notion of reproductive achievements, comparing them with ideas of human enhancement, which aims at humans becoming "stronger and faster". Criticisms to evolutionary psychology challenge its defense of a notion of a fixed human nature, and its disregard for the experience of birth. Some female scholars link human evolution to the presence of premature infants requiring attention from mothers and alloparents. They explain why this gave an advantage to the human species, enhancing cooperation and other desirable traits. Other scholars develop philosophies of birth, mostly based on Arendt's conception of natality, questioning a human nature not sensitive to gender, excluding birth and childhood. Then we move to transhumanism, proponent of human enhancement. Transhumanism questions our biological inheritance for being flawed and outdated, including giving birth, restricting this to a source of great suffering. This assessment of the given does not consider its ambiguous, dialectical character. Because of that, tinkering with nature both accomplishes and frustrates the goals of human enhancement.

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Eduardo R. Cruz
Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo

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