23. Transhumanism and Personal Identity

  1. Max More and
  2. Natasha Vita-More
  1. James Hughes

Published Online: 11 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118555927.ch23

The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future

The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future

How to Cite

Hughes, J. (2013) Transhumanism and Personal Identity, in The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future (eds M. More and N. Vita-More), John Wiley & Sons, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118555927.ch23

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 11 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 29 APR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118334294

Online ISBN: 9781118555927

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Keywords:

  • cognitive enhancement;
  • continuity of memory;
  • Enlightenment;
  • human enhancement;
  • neuroscience;
  • patternism;
  • personal continuity;
  • personal identity;
  • transhumanism

Summary

The personal identity conundrum is perhaps more exclusive to transhumanism than the other intra-Enlightenment debates since it is precisely the prospect of radical neuroscience that has made the erasure of the illusion of personal identity so tangible. Nick Bostrom acknowledged the problem of personal identity for transhumanism. In her 2009 essay, Susan Schneider cites Ray Kurzweil's 2005 parsing of the personal identity debate into four positions. Kurzweil advocates the psychological continuity theory, also dubbed “Patternism.” One philosopher who defends the variant of the patternist view in great depth is Max More. More specifically argues against a focus on continuity of memory as important for identity. Both More and Walker concede that some enhancements would break personal identity by breaking the continuity of the personality pattern. Schneider suggests, however, that the transhumanists' patternist theories are inadequate to establish the continuity of personal identity after radical cognitive enhancements or uploading.