The evolution of human birth and transhumanist proposals of enhancement

Zygon 50 (4):830-853 (2015)
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Some transhumanists argue that we must engage with theories and facts about our evolutionary past in order to promote future enhancements of the human body. At the same time, they call our attention to the flawed character of evolution and argue that there is a mismatch between adaptation to ancestral environments and contemporary life. One important trait of our evolutionary past which should not be ignored, and yet may hinder the continued perfection of humankind, is the peculiarly human way of bearing and raising children. The suffering associated with childbirth and a long childhood have demanded trade-offs that have enhanced our species, leading to cooperation, creativity, intelligence and resilience. Behaviors such as mother–infant engagement, empathy, storytelling, and ritual have also helped to create what we value most in human beings. Therefore, the moral, cognitive, and emotional enhancements proposed by these transhumanists may be impaired by their partial appropriation of evolution, insofar as the bittersweet experience of parenthood is left aside.

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Eduardo R. Cruz
Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo


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