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A Transhuman or trans-human is an intermediary form between the human and the hypothetical posthuman.
History of HypothesesEdit
The etymology of the term "transhuman" goes back to French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who wrote in his 1949 book The Future of Mankind: Liberty: that is to say, the chance offered to every man (by removing obstacles and placing the appropriate means at his disposal) of 'trans-humanizing' himself by developing his potentialities to the fullest extent.
And in a 1951 unpublished revision of the same book: In consequence one is the less disposed to reject as unscientific the idea that the critical point of planetary Reflection, the fruit of socialization, far from being a mere spark in the darkness, represents our passage, by Translation or dematerialization, to another sphere of the Universe: not an ending of the ultra-human but its accession to some sort of trans-humanity at the ultimate heart of things.
In 1957 book New Bottles for New Wine, English evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley wrote: The human species can, if it wishes, transcend itself —not just sporadically, an individual here in one way, an individual there in another way, but in its entirety, as humanity. We need a name for this new belief. Perhaps transhumanism will serve: man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature. "I believe in transhumanism": once there are enough people who can truly say that, the human species will be on the threshold of a new kind of existence, as different from ours as ours is from that of Pekin man. It will at last be consciously fulfilling its real destiny. One of the first professors of futurology, FM-2030, who taught "new concepts of the Human" at The New School of New York City in the 1960s, used "transhuman" as shorthand for "transitional human". Calling transhumans the "earliest manifestation of new evolutionary beings", FM argued that signs of transhumans included physical and mental augmentations including prostheses, reconstructive surgery, intensive use of telecommunications, a cosmopolitan outlook and a globetrotting lifestyle, androgyny, mediated reproduction (such as in vitro fertilisation), absence of religious beliefs, and a rejection of traditional family values.
FM-2030 used the concept of transhuman, as an evolutionary transition, outside the confines of academia in his contributing final chapter to the 1972 anthology Woman, Year 2000. In the same year, American cryonics pioneer Robert Ettinger contributed to conceptualization of "transhumanity" in his book Man into Superman. In 1982, American artist Natasha Vita-More authored the Transhuman Manifesto 1982: Transhumanist Arts Statement and outlined what she perceived as an emerging transhuman culture.
Many thinkers today do not consider FM-2030's characteristics to be essential attributes of a transhuman. However, analyzing the possible transitional nature of the human species has been and continues to be of primary interest to anthropologists and philosophers within and outside the intellectual movement of transhumanism.
In March 2007, American physicist Gregory Cochran and paleoanthropologist John Hawks published a study, alongside other recent research on which it builds, which amounts to a radical reappraisal of traditional views, which tended to assume that humans have reached an evolutionary endpoint. Physical anthropologist Jeffrey McKee argued the new findings of accelerated evolution bear out predictions he made in a 2000 book The Riddled Chain. Based on computer models, he argued that evolution should speed up as a population grows because population growth creates more opportunities for new mutations; and the expanded population occupies new environmental niches, which would drive evolution in new directions. Whatever the implications of the recent findings, McKee concludes that they highlight a ubiquitous point about evolution: "every species is a transitional species."