Philosophy Professor Stefan Sorgner Interviewed by Philosophy Now
JCU Philosophy Professor Stefan Lorenz Sorgner was recently interviewed by the Philosophy Now journal about his new book On Transhumanism (Penn State University Press, 2020). A world-leading transhumanist, Professor Sorgner is director and co-founder of the Beyond Humanism Network, Fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) and Research Fellow at the Ewha Institute for the Humanities at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. Professor Sorgner is also Editor-in-Chief and Founding Editor of the Journal of Posthuman Studies, launched in 2017 at JCU, which was recently accepted to be listed in Scopus, the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature.
In his interview, Professor Sorgner touches on topics such as liberal eugenics, or enhancing human characteristics and capacities through the use of reproductive technologies and human genetic engineering. He argues that these practices are plausible and morally justified. Professor Sorgner also explained the differences between transhumanism and posthumanism, and he clarified his use of the terms trans- and posthuman. “I regard a ‘transhuman’ as a technologically or biologically-augmented or enhanced person who still belongs to the human species, whereas a ‘posthuman’ would have to have transcended the boundaries of Homo sapiens sapiens – to have become more than human,” said Professor Sorgner.
The interview touches on the various strands of thought and approaches of this philosophy, as well as what each of them advocates for. Transhumanism, posthumanism and metahumanism share some characteristics, such as the goal of transcending humanism in one way or another, or the importance they give to the impact that emerging technologies may have, however, the three approaches are significantly different. “Transhumanism affirms the use of technologies for transcending our current boundaries, since this goes along with an increased likelihood of people living good lives,” explains Professor Sorgner. Posthumanism, on the other hand, seeks to reinterpret who we are in a non-dualist, non-essentialist, non-anthropocentric, and non-hierarchical manner. Metahumanism represents an alternative approach that lies in-between transhumanism and posthumanism.
The Center for the Study of Bioethics from the University of Serbia and Oxford University’s Welcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities invited Professor Sorgner as a keynote speaker to the conference “Enhancement: Cognitive, Moral and Mood; Part II” which will take place in Belgrade, Serbia, on the 1st and 2nd of March 2021. Many of the world’s leading bioethicists will be present, including Julian Savulescu, Ph.D., Co-director of Oxford University’s Welcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities; John Harris, Ph.D., University of Manchester; Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., New York University; Jonathan Moreno, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania; Nicholas Agar, Ph.D., University of Wellington; James Hughes, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts; Anders Sandberg, Ph.D., University of Oxford.
Professor Sorgner is currently teaching PH 321 “Bioethics,” PH/CMS 320 “Posthuman Studies: Philosophy, Technology, Media,” and PH/RL 224 “Living the Good Life: Religious and Philosophical Ethics”.