Building a Better Human

Apr 07 2003 Kelly Norton
The Sunday Living Section of the AJC had an interesting article entitled “Building a better human,” which briefly explores the ethical concerns and potential philosophical redefinitions of ”being human” which are being rehashed with news that a British doctor is asking permission to perform a face transplant. Shifts in self-identity are nothing new, as the human need for self differentiation has always existed and has always encapsulated whatever demonstrates difference. Consumerism even has us buying cars, clothing and home décor that “defines us”. We seem all too eager to expand the boundaries of identity but when faced with giving up territory, especially the holy ground of the body, we become uncomfortable. But to what extremes will we hold onto our bodies? Would you give up your body if consciousness could continue in another “medium”, if it meant a magnitude increase in your “life” span? These are not really new questions; theories of a dematerialized human existence have been prominent in post WWII thought, but they remain unanswered and periodic advancements in medical science serve to remind us as much.