Transhumanist Imagination

transhumanist imagination

Peter Wehling


“Democratising socio-technological imagination”


Augsburg University



Abstract: The basic idea of this statement is, that is not sufficient for democratizing debates on socio-technological futures to include many or possibly „all“ members of society in discourses on these issues. In addition, it is necessary to simultaneously highlight the contingency and questionable legitimacy of both scientific and ethical expert knowledge on which such dicourses are explicitly or implicitly based. These expert knowledges predefine what future visions are scientifically and technically feasible and normatively desirable and what should become the object of public discourse. Using the example of recent debates on “neuro-enhancement” I will argue that visions of human enhancement by means of technology do not entail a radically “imaginary” element in the sense of Cornelius Castoriadis’ political philosophy but instead are based on the extrapolation (and radicalization) of present trends, hegemonic practices and their institutional and cultural contexts into the future. “Democratic imagination”, by contrast, might be conceived as a tentative and critical endeavor that is less interested in shaping a presupposedly “brighter” future, but more in contesting and transforming current world-views which are wrongly taken for granted and held to be unquestionable (such as the ideas of a human desire to “improve” oneself or of the naturalness and ubiquity of competition in social life).