The Posthuman as Hollow Idol: A Nietzschean Critique of Human Enhancement

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In this paper, the author aims to show that transhumanists are confused about their own conception of the posthuman: transhumanists anticipate radical transformation of the human through technology and at the same time assume that the criteria to determine what is “normal” and what is “enhanced” are univocal, both in our present time and in the future. Inspired by Nietzsche’s notion of the Overhuman, the author argues that the slightest “historical and phenomenological sense” discloses copious variations of criteria, both diachronic and synchronic, for what can be considered “normal” and “enhanced.” Radical transformation through technology does not simply enable us to become “stronger,” “smarter,” or “healthier,” but it can and often will also change the very standard or yardstick with which we measure what counts as “stronger,” “smarter,” or “healthier.” Put yet differently: new and emerging technologies are not neutral means but often bring about different and, from our current perspective, foreign standards for determining what are “normal” and “enhanced” capacities. Since the qualitative meanings of these terms are themselves not fixed, it is unintelligible and too reassuring to simply predict that new technologies will enhance human beings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-327
JournalJournal of medicine and philosophy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2017


  • human enhancement
  • Nietzsche
  • Overhuman
  • posthuman
  • transhumanism

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