Futuribles Journal n° 420

Recherche, sciences, techniques - Société, modes de vie

Transhumanism in Science-Fiction: Science-Fiction at the Forefront of Philosophical and Ethical Thinking

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In its July-August 2016 issue (number 413), Futuribles launched a series on the relationship — and contributions — of science fiction to foresight studies, in order to determine whether, and to what extent, science fiction writers have influenced the collective imagination and foresight thinking. After examining these questions from a socio-political and environmental angle, the series continued in the January-February 2017 issue, which looked at relations between science, research and science fiction. We continue this thinking on scientific questions here, this time from the ethical and philosophical angle, with Gilbert Hottois looking into trans/post-humanism as treated in recent science fiction literature.

Hottois presents various novels featuring characters (cyborgs, superhumans etc.) improved or enhanced by IT, genetic engineering etc., either for therapeutic purposes or in the attempt to go beyond the human (transcendence of “singularity”). For each of the works chosen, he stresses the philosophical and ethical questions expressed by the protagonists or subjacent to the plot: what is a person or what is the role of science and techno-science with regard to human beings and human cultures? These are questions that will nag away at modern societies for years to come. Science fiction literature offers an original angle on these subjects and no doubt a perspective that complements more academic thinking on them.

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