Transhumanism, Newtonian Motion, and the Incarnation
Jordan Mason, MDiv, Graduate Student, Saint Louis University
According to Brian Brock, Heidegger wrote that Newton's cosmology generated eight new metaphysical assumptions, one of which was that motion is no longer a characteristic intrinsic to the composition of a substance but is determined by an extrinsic variable related to the law of motion. In contrast, according to Simon Oliver, Plato and Aristotle’s view of motion was a much more comprehensive category not merely about locomotion (Newtonian motion), but a moral, perhaps theological category that makes sense of change over time. In this older view, since motion is a change of potentiality into action, both locomotion and virtue fall under the concept of motion. Virtue is thus a movement toward perfection, and not movement merely in the Newtonian sense, as transhumanists seem to believe. Thus, as a critique of transhumanism’s bioenhancement project, I will explore the corrupting impact of Newtonian motion on their view of human moral agency, and their abandonment of the virtues in favor of explaining and engineering moral behavior through biological and/or environmental factors/forces. I will specifically reference Persson and Savalescu. Finally, as an alternative I will describe a sacramental-incarnational view of humanity that does not strip us down to raw material or cogs in the perfection machine, but affirms the presence of the divine in our earthly, physical, mortal realities.