Meaningful Transhumanism (H+)…

All bodily capacities, including the most impressive, uniquely human cognitive and metacognitive ones, coevolve with regulatory mechanisms. Regulatory mechanisms operate unconsciously, and control the expression of associated capacities such that the latter consistently operate with high effectiveness and efficiency to promote replication of our genes. So, to fundamentally change and render socioecologically sustainable the human species, H+ technologies will somehow have to alter the deep neural relationship between these regulatory “value systems,” (sensu neuroscientist Gerald Edelman in, “A Universe of Consciousness”), residing primarily in the limbic system, and all our mundane or enhanced corticothalamic activities. We need H+ that radically diminishes our transparent penchant for evolutionarily adaptive self-deception, and that alters our power to more freely and consciously choose, moment-to-moment, what we do with our cognitive capacities. I suspect current H+ is blind to this. — Warmly, PJW

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About Paul Watson

BA Zoology and BA Botany, University of Montana, 1981; PhD Behavioral Biology and Ecology, Cornell University, 1988. Adjunct Associate Professor, University of New Mexico Department of Biology, 1991 - present. Special interests: Evolution of sexual and social behavior in animals and humans; evolution of religiosity and psychological pain, esp. unipolar depression. Use of evolutionary psychology as an "objectifying" and therefore potentiating influence in a individual's "spiritual" search and efforts to accentuate compassion.

2 thoughts on “Meaningful Transhumanism (H+)…

  1. Some of your terms are new to me, but I think I get the point. I’ll have to do some anatomical and neurological fact finding to fully follow. Are the regulatory/value systems those that unconsciously direct our attention, shape our perceptions, and (largely) determine our preferences and behaviors? When we talk about “limbic” functions, are we (generally) referring to affective/emotional processes? Clearly, any significant change in (post-)human nature will require a greater appreciation of our evolved state and means and mechanisms for exerting more deliberate control over our further development. It’s quite boggling.

    1. Some clarifications (hopefully): “Value systems” (an Edelman term of art) are the limbic/unconscious regulatory parts of our brains that (1) constantly monitor our biological needs in relation to effectively and efficiently solving fitness-limiting reproductive problems and (2) correspondingly tightly control the activity of our “higher cognitive processes,” so that they stay on task using their incredible power to solve those fitness-limiting problems. Unconscious and sometimes (often adaptively warped) conscious emotions TOTALLY canalize, prune, and drive “higher cognition.” It feels like we are thinking out of the “subhuman / mechanically” utilitarian gene propagation box, but we are not. Please post this comment for me if you wish. — PJW

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