Technic Self-Determination

Technic Self-Determination

Franco Cortese (Independent Researcher, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6010-6.ch012
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This chapter addresses concerns that the development and proliferation of Human Enhancement Technologies (HET) will be (a) dehumanizing and a threat to human dignity and (b) a threat to our autonomy and sovereignty as individuals. Contrarily, HET can be shown to constitute the most effective foreseeable means of increasing the autonomy and sovereignty of individual members of society. Furthermore, this chapter elaborates the position that the use of HET exemplifies—and indeed even intensifies—our most human capacity and faculty, namely the desire for increased self-determination (i.e., control over the determining circumstances and conditions of our own selves and lives), which is referred to as the will toward self-determination. Based upon this position, arguably, the use of HET bears fundamental ontological continuity with the human condition in general and with the historically ubiquitous will toward self-determination in particular as it is today and has been in the past. HET will not be a dehumanizing force, but will rather serve to increase the very capacity and characteristic that characterizes us as human more accurately than anything else.
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The chapter first articulates an ontology of self-determination based upon self-modification and self-modulation (i.e., deliberate modification or modulation of the material processes and systems constituting our bodies and brains), characterizing self-determination as a modality (i.e., that there can be degrees of self-determination, or that it isn’t an absolute, all-or-none category) that encompasses any act of manipulating the material systems and processes underlying the body and mind so as to effect certain changes to the emergent operation, function or capacities of the body or to the modes of experience, thought and perception available to the mind.

Secondly, it illustrates (1) how HET constitutes a distinct modality of self-determination, which may be referred to as technic1 self-determination, that is encompassed by the broader ontology of self-determination previously articulated, (2) how technic self-determination nevertheless bears ontological continuity with existing and historical (predominantly non-technological) means and modalities of self-determination as practiced by contemporary and historical humans, as well as (3) why technic self-determination (and the use of HET in general and neurotechnology in particular that underlie it) constitute humanity’s most effective and most extensive means of self-determination, and thus of increasing their available capacity for self-determination.

Thirdly, the chapter turns to the topic of human nature and human dignity, arguing that it is humanity’s will toward self-determination that best distinguishes humans as such, and accordingly that the will toward self-determination constitutes the best available candidate for a universal human condition. The chapter concludes by arguing that technic self-determination (and the use of HET that underlies it) will not be dehumanizing because (1) HET will simply serve to increase our existing degree of and capacity for self-determination and (2) HET bears ontological continuity with the existing tools and techniques for affecting the substratum of self. Quite to the contrary of critics concerned with the potential for dehumanization and a violation of human dignity, technic self-determination and HET will continuate and extend rather than render asunder that which makes us most human.

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