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Templeton Research Lectures

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Facing the Challenges of Transhumanism: Religion, Science, Technology

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Human Nature

The claims of Transhumanism emerge from the confluence of new developments in the life sciences, bioengineering, and the neurosciences. The transhuman vision, which places much confidence in the ability of humans to change nature including their own, conflicts with the claims of evolutionary psychology that there is a universal human nature based on a species–typical collection of complex psychological adaptations that are universal among and unique to human beings. We hypothesize that the debate between the two camps rests on a lack clarity concerning the meaning of the phrase “human nature” and that to clarify the confusion we need to integrate the study of neuroscience, cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, and philosophy. We will explore, on the one hand, whether the arguments of the transhumanists undermine the evidence about human nature marshaled by evolutionary psychologists (e.g., Steven Pinker, David Buss, and Leda Cosmides), and, on the other hand, whether the claims of evolutionary psychologists hold up against the new findings about the non-linear nature of brain processes as discovered by neuroscientists (e.g., Steven Rose).