Transhumanists tend to have a commitment to materialism and naturalism but nonetheless pursue goals traditionally associated with religious ideologies, such as the quest for immortality. Often, they hope to achieve immortality through the application of a technology whereby the brain is scanned and the person "uploaded" to a computer. This process is typically described as "transferring" one's mind to a computer. I argue that, while the technology may be feasible, uploading will not succeed because it in fact does not "transfer" a mind at all and will not preserve personal identity. Transhumanist hopes for such transfer ironically rely on treating the mind dualistically-and inconsistently with materialism-as the functional equivalent of a soul, as is evidenced by a carefully examination of the language used to describe and defend uploading. In this sense, transhumanist thought unwittingly contains remnants of dualistic and religious categories.
Patrick D. Hopkins is a philosopher and ethicist who specializes in ethical theory and in applied ethical issues in science, medicine, and technology. He has a B.A. from the University of Mississippi in Experimental Psychology, worked in neuroscience research for several years at a major medical school and a primate research center, received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis, and is currently Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS. He has published numerous articles on biomedical ethics, science and technology studies, gender studies, and religious studies and has edited a book on the relationship between gender and technology.
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