Transhuman and Subhuman
Transhumanism can be broadly defined as a philosophical and intellectual movement dedicated to the idea that human evolution can be improved or speeded up by the application of advanced technology. Some would have us believe that this is human genius overcoming the clumsy, slow process of ‘natural’ evolution. Others would say that this is in fact, natural evolution in the sense that humans evolved to create and use technology.
There is no real, clear, objective definition of ‘subhuman’, as the concept has become tangled up with racist and moralistic ideologies. The nearest I can come is ‘a human who consistently displays behaviours considered by most to fall below the standards expected of a normal person’. Which still leaves the problem of defining how a ‘normal’ person behaves.
However, I am getting a nasty feeling that we will, sooner than we want to, have that clear definition, and the division that will go with it.
Consider, I was raised in the 1960s. We were taught, as essentials, a high degree of literacy, numeracy, general knowledge and practical skills. We were expected to read, not only for learning but leisure, texts which many of a later generation would find incomprehensible. We were taught to write in legible cursive, gramatically, with correct spellings. We were trained to memorise multiplication tables, perform mental arithmetic at high speed under pressure, write geometrical proofs, resolve algebraic equations and trigonometrical problems. We were expected to know the capital cities of all major and most minor countries, as well as their major exports. We were expected to have a reasonable grasp of English, European and American history. We were also supposed to know at least the basics of chemistry, physics and biology. Also, to have at least a smattering of a modern foreign language. We were taught to draw, paint, undertake simple crafting, basic woodwork and metalwork. All by the age of sixteen. When you add in Sunday School — which many still attended back then — you get Biblical knowledge and basic theology.
Goes without saying that all this was bloody hard work and kids these days don’t know they’re born!