Belief in humanity, in its capacity to surpass traditional antagonisms and postmodern nihilism, is at the core of what could be called a new transcendentalist movement. Unlike the hippie subculture and other previous attempts of re-defining humanity, with ideas based on philosophical teachings, popular culture and esoteric principles, the Renaissance of the 21st century is backed by scientific evidence and applied technology.
During the second half of January and the first half of February, students from RISD (the Rhode Island School of Design), Brown University, and MIT had a chance to participate in a series of workshops focused on transhumanism, as a part of the four-week long event called HUMAN+COMPUTER. Working in groups, students were able to learn how to combine art and technology and convert their ideas into functional prototypes of devices which explore the existing and the future relationship between humans and technology. Inspired by this workshop, students at MIT started a new group, called MIT STEAM. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.
This is just one of many ways young people these days promote ideas of transhumanism. Hundreds of similar groups are created at the universities, social media, and among some companies’ think-thanks, but they are hardly getting any space in the mainstream transcendentalist circles and media which are positively inclined towards transcendentalist ideas.
It reminded me of an article Zoltan Istvan, founder of Transhumanist Party, wrote last year, about the new generation of transhumanists fighting their way to the forefront of the movement, wishing for their voices to be heard. They want to step forward and accelerate the exploration of amazing new ways in which science and technology can help overcome limitations of human existence. Unlike many of the older generation of transhumanists, young ones want a bolder, more radical approach to the engineering of our future, without flirtations with retrograde elements. They understand that people who do not sympathize with common transcendentalist ideas will never be won over. Instead, they will do everything in their power to discredit any proactive approach towards human engineering.
Young has to rebel against the old, that clash of generations has been an engine of progress since the dawn of humanity. That’s what propels the societies forward. Wherever conservatism is present as a significant force within a society, freedom suffers and with it an optimistic worldview.
Transhumanism is not just another Big Idea, a philosophy trying to redefine human values and a particular lifestyle; it is more retelling the story of the future, predictions based on scientific evidence, something that WILL eventually happen to the human race, if we are not forestalled by some kind of global catastrophe. It is a promise of a better life for the whole humanity, of the time when we will reap the benefits of scientific and technological progress to the full-scale and eliminate disease, pain, maybe even death. That’s not something one should be defensive about. Au contraire, transhumanists should hold their heads high and proudly speak their ideas aloud.