Buddhism and Our Posthuman Future
New human enhancement technologies will radically challenge traditional religious understandings of the human project. But among the world’s faiths, Buddhists will have some distinct advantages adapting to and contributing to thinking about, a posthuman future. Buddhism and human enhancement have some affinities and some useful complementarities. In the Abrahamic faiths, humanity is divinely created with static capacities, while in traditional Buddhism, human beings routinely evolve into gods and superbeings. While Buddhism counsels against grasping, it has no objection to using medicine or spiritual technologies to live longer lives or achieve superhuman abilities. In Buddhist eschatology, human beings are expected to have 80,000-year lifespans in a future posthuman utopia on Earth. Modernizing efforts since the nineteenth century are also facilitating a Buddhist engagement with human enhancement technologies. Since the nineteenth century, many Asian and Western Buddhists have downplayed the superstitious aspects of Buddhism, arguing for its compatibility with science, and framing meditation as a human enhancement technology. In recent decades, Buddhist teachers have collaborated with neuroscientists studying the neurological and behavioral effects of meditation, so that meditation practices can be integrated with emerging neurotechnologies to enhance self-control, compassion, insight, and altered states of consciousness. These neurotechnologies will also increase the relevance of Buddhist psychology, which counsels that the illusion of a continuous, discrete self is the cause of suffering.
KeywordsBuddhism Human enhancement Transhumanism Enlightenment Modernism Personal identity Moral enhancement
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