Transhumanism as a Thin-centred Ideology

Szabados, Krisztián (2021) Transhumanism as a Thin-centred Ideology. PhD thesis, Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem, Nemzetközi Kapcsolatok és Politikatudományi Doktori Iskola. DOI

PDF : (dissertation in English)
PDF : (draft in English)
PDF : (az értekezés tézisei magyar nyelven)


As a product of the ongoing scientific and technological revolution, transhumanism has grown into a worldwide movement and its ideas penetrated the public discourse and popular culture. Transhumanism promotes the radical idea that humanity will be able to transcend its biological limits and enhance individual cognitive, physical, psychological and moral capabilities far beyond the current nature-driven level through new techno-scientific innovations applied on the human body. These changes demand radical changes in society and the reconfiguration of all aspects of politics. The transhumanist movement has recently grown political branches that exert influence on policy-making by inviting transhumanist topics into the political arena that other political ideologies neglect. The latest development is the emergence of transhumanist political proto-parties worldwide. These changes signal an ideational thickening of transhumanism. This thesis presents the first ideological analysis of political transhumanism applying Michael Freeden’s morphological approach. Its hypothesis is that transhumanism is a thin-centred ideology. To test this hypothesis, this paper conducts the morphological analysis of key transhumanist political texts. It investigates whether transhumanism can be described as having ideological coherency, what core ideas, key values, and claims (decontestation chains) make up its ideational architect, how, if at all, the conceptual structure of transhumanism can best be described, to what extent these transhumanist concepts and claims are distinct from those of other ideologies. To start with, three arguments are suggested to support the choice of Freeden’s morphological approach to be the right methodology for the ideological analysis of transhumanism. The subsequent section presents the selected transhumanist literature and other texts that the ideological analysis was conducted on explaining the criteria of selection. Next, a concise argument was put forward to underpin the relevance of transhumanism as the subject of political science. Then, attention turns to the social and cultural context. The dissertation summarises briefly the intellectual and organisational history of transhumanism. After that, the ideological analysis is presented. Key findings are: 1. Transhumanism is an adequate subject of ideological analysis as it can be described with five of the six ideological attributes defined by Freeden. 2. The ideological analysis reveals five core concepts in the transhumanist conceptual structure: morphological freedom, human enhancement, longevity, the precautionary principle, and personhood. 3. It identifies and describes the morphologies and decontestations of several adjacent concepts, such as rationality, diversity, democracy, equality and the state. 4. It defines the roles of peripheral concepts as effective tools to creating new ideological variants, supporting intellectual and political expansion, and responding to criticism 5. The thesis presents an ideological map of transhumanism revealing the positions, interconnectedness and proximity of these concepts within the ideational structure in accordance with the morphological approach. 6. Special attention is given to two critical accounts of transhumanism: the bioconservative critique presented by Francis Fukuyama and the moral philosophical critique put forward by Jürgen Habermas. 7. The thesis unveils how transhumanism acquires unique issue ownership over a variety of social issues as well as its attempt at creating a novel semantic field to frame and interpret the perceived consequences of techno-scientific progress. The inferences from these chapters allows for testing the main hypothesis and to foreground a new account of the transhumanist thought system. A three-part argument is offered to justify the idea that transhumanism is a thin-centred ideology. Finally, a detailed account of James Hughes’ innovative spatial theory of 21st century politics is presented to justify the potential of transhumanism to become a full-fledged ideology and to acquire a dominant status among mainstream ideologies in the near future. To conclude the dissertation draws these theoretical, methodological and analytical strands together to appraise the main findings of the ideological analysis. It offers a new account of transhumanism based on its existing conceptual architecture, its power to interpret social reality and its capacity to contest other dominant and emerging ideologies

Item Type:Thesis (PhD thesis)
Supervisor:Balázs Zoltán
Uncontrolled Keywords:transhumanism, technological revolution
Subjects:Knowledge economy, innovation
Political science
ID Code:1132
Date:30 April 2021
Deposited On:06 Apr 2021 11:18
Last Modified:05 May 2021 08:52

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