Modern Cosmism Conference

James J. Hughes


 Cosmism, Moral Enhancement and the Religious Dialogue with Transhumanism


Most people are neurologically incapable of living up to their own moral aspirations. In response to our moral inadequacies religious traditions have developed technologies such as fasting, meditation, special clothing and psychoactive drugs to improve moral cognition and behavior. Today psychopharmacological, social neuroscience and behavioral research are illuminating moral cognition, and generating new electronic, psychopharmaceutical, and genetic technologies for moral self-improvement.

As these technologies of moral enhancement become more common in therapy and criminal rehabilitation they will also be selectively adopted and rejected by religious traditions. Some religious will reject the new moral enhancement technologies on the grounds that, like the transhumanist aspirations for longevity, cognitive enhancement and uploading, they are a distraction from spiritual means and ends. Other technologies, such as treatments for addictions, will likely be widely embraced by the religious.

A dialogue between religious and transhumanists about these projects will help the religious parse which technologies are acceptable. But a religious-transhumanist moral enhancement dialogue will also help the transhumanist movement confront its dangerous lack of distinction between static forms of enhancement, such as hedonic "wireheading," and forms of enhancement that enhance virtues, explore spiritual experience, and support flourishing lives.








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