Life of “Story”

Truth is subjective, affecting the individual in the present moment. In efforts of survival, Yann Martel’s protagonist Pi Patel shares two stories of the same incident in Life of Pi. Human thought and imagination use critical thinking skills as creative ways of envisioning outcomes for situations. Jonathan Gottschall calls imagined scenarios elements of “story” and sees “storytelling” as an evolutionary adaption. In The Storytelling Animal:  How Stories Make Us Human, Gottschall illustrates the authoritative human voice found in “story.” Forms of fiction such as literature, film, and video games, provide imaginative experience that propels the participant through the critical world of “what-if.” Reality can be harsh. This essay shows that creating elaborate delusions soothes one’s spirit and presents room for possibility.

The facts of Pi’s tragedy are:  the Patel family, with their zoo animals, were aboard the Tsimtsum; the ship sunk in the oceans’ depths, leaving Pi as sole survivor. Japanese officials investigate the occurrence and interview Pi who issues his circumstance through two “storytelling” methods:  subjective-spirituality and objective-rationality. In the first “story,” Pi’s narrative voice constructs the events by offering a rich, detailed observance of the animal world and religious connection with three belief systems. However, the second rendition of the same event at sea presents an anticlimactic dose of reason that issues the ugly truth. Neither “story” explains why the Tsimtsum sunk, and the reader is left deciding which tale holds preference:  the facts or the fabrication.

The second “story” rudely shows face at the end, shocking the reader who longed for Richard Parker’s noble inclusion. This action turns the tables on truth, showing the reality of Pi’s situation as distasteful. The reader comes to love Pi and finds disgust at acts of cannibalism and primal brutality. The reader wishes the truth was not real, that the first “story” was instead possible and accurate. More than likely, the “storyteller” also sides with the tale involving the tiger because the means for creating this “story” lives in survival. In order of simply making it through, Pi relied on the authority of his imagination. Pi created another individual – Richard Parker – from his memory and veterinary knowledge. In avoidance of absolute solitude, Pi utilized the power of “story” in creation of a reality he could deal with or accept.

“Story” is not limited to fiction, and Gottschall notes religious institutions as harnessing societal needs with “story.” The catch, however, is that different religions may tell contrasting versions of “stories.” He said, “Religion draws coreligionists together, and it drives those of different faiths apart” (Gottschall 123). Pi connects with three opposing religions. Forming a bond with each deity, Pi picks and chooses which religious message he prefers. In this way, Pi internally avoids religious disagreement. By subjectively addressing belief, Pi sculpts his own understanding. This essay notes the value lay in accepting multiple “stories” for individual comprehension.

The evolutionary benefit lay with the first “story.” Evolution supports the betterment of species. Gottschall calls the characters from “story” – including fictional, historical, and religious figures – “ink people,” recognizing the “ink people’s” way of wielding authority inside reality (144). He said, “[Ink people] shape our behaviors and our customs, and in so doing, they transform societies and histories” (Gottschall 144). Giving slave-narratives as reference, Gottschall shows that through Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe brought atrocities of Southern slavery into the consciousness of Northern citizens. Readers connected with Eliza’s character and empathized with her plight. Pi presented a case for relation and interaction with the animal world as means for survival.

Humans are social creatures. In absence of society, Pi’s “story” provides a sense of community with Richard Parker, Orange Juice, the hyena, and the zebra. Pi creates an animal society in avoidance of insanity, he said, “Things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to, but what can you do? You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it” (Martel 91). Pi could not accept that the Chinese sailor was murdered and eaten by the French Cook, or that his dear mother stood up against inhumane cannibalism, also falling at the cook’s hand. Instead, Pi let the cook be a hyena, his mother Orange Juice, and himself Richard Parker. After all, a tiger is not afraid of a man. Better to be a tiger than a victim.

Truth alters along with the individual, and what is true for one now may not be true after experiencing a challenge or traumatic event. Truth – like humans – is victim to subjective encounter and interpretation. Pi’s truth is that he survived by any means necessary. Pi’s struggle was holding onto his humanness. “Storytelling” is a unique trait of humanity. Through art and literature, humans envision wonderful and terrible outcomes in efforts of lessening life’s struggle. Pi’s “story” encourages that the reader becomes their own tiger. Accept what one has but work towards creating the best scenario.



Works Cited

Gottschall, Jonathan. The Storytelling Animal:  How Stories Make Us Human. New York:

Mariner Books, 2013.

Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. New York:  Mariner Books, 2003.


Reading assignment written for Bev Zizzy, on Martel’s “Life of Pi”

Grades Posted …{le bow}

Humanities 571 Individuals, Societies, and the Spirit

{or…what will forever be the “religion” class I survived}

Survived may not be the right word. Ole girl managed to pull off a 98% on the final paper and score an overall 96.7% for the course! As expected – good news and bad news with these results. First off – the bad so the good will have a final word.

Bad News:

  1.  For me, a 96 is a low or just barely, an A – my other pieces from the last four to five courses have shown high A’s, as in 100% ‘ers.
  2. I know I promised to post my last integral essay – a look at the sociological authority found in music and collective effervescence. However, since Prof finally gave me a good review, and declared that with a few grammatical corrections – the paper is publishable! {yes, this is the good, lol} Why it could be viewed as “bad” is that I cannot post the piece online as I will adjust for publication.

Good News:

  1.  My writing confidence is restored. Over the last sixteen weeks, Prof has not enjoyed my style, word choice, or ability. His comments greatly affected my ability to write as I constantly questioned every thought I formed. But now, in this final piece, Prof turned the tide and accepted my writing.
  2.  I may be able to publish this essay! Seeing the words “this piece is publishable with a few tweaks” made my day.
  3.  571 was my last course before the Capstone. The light at the end of the tunnel is flashing a “go ahead” sign, permitting me access to proceed towards my goal.
  4.  I, hopefully, will never have to read Weber or Bellah again {fingers crossed}.

The good outweighs the bad. I am happy with the 98% on the piece, and the possibility of publication. I learned a great deal in HUMN 571 – I think the most important grain is that “religion” is actually a means to form society. If dogma is removed, what is left is society. With this in mind, I am less hostile towards religion. I see it more as a means than an ends. This could be why I am so put-off by current Humanism and Atheism attempts at thwarting religion – because it’s not about dogma. Religion is community, or individuals working together to improve their environment.


Picture c/o:–Stock-Vector.jpg

“Renegade” by X Ambassadors as Message to Dionysian Mind

Granted, Wagner, the X Ambassadors is not, lol, but… Nietzsche saw music as the best way for humans to express themselves or as an avenue to happiness. You asked about commercialism – combing through our text, I find it interesting that there is not heavy influence in capitalism, commerce, or materialism – only reference to seeking a pleasure filled life. However, there is a note from Bernard Williams in the introduction, that I feel supports my inclusion of the modern song; Williams said, “[The Gay Science], like all his others, makes it clear than any life worth living must involve daring, individuality and creative bloody-mindedness” (Nietzsche xiv).

Yes, the message I see in the song indicates that the lyrics are addressed to the Dionysian. It is a call to arms, so to speak. Another piece, “Am I Wrong” by Nico & Vinz from 2014, has a similar connotation where the individual rejects the modern understanding of right/wrong. One of the chorus verses altered from “I” to “We” indicating that one person’s concept became mutual understanding – “collective thought” (Nico & Vinz). Before the song hit the charts, Nico & Vinz were addressing the modern group “Anonymous”; the first time I heard it was when I was tagged on a link in Facebook from one of my groups. My experiment with social media is still on-going, so I have not been exposed to collective thought for nearly a year now – I am not certain that X Ambassadors is addressing the same audience as Nico & Vinz, but I can deduce relation. It could be a ploy on consumerism, but I do not think the average person gets the same message from listening to the song as few are well read in Nietzsche. If it is just for the money, all they got from me was $1.29, so I can live with that. The message is worth far more – it is one of hope.

Here is my breakdown of the song. Enjoy!

“Run away with me / Lost souls and reverie / Running wild and running free / Two kids, you and me” (1-4). The X Ambassadors are encouraging the individual to break free from the norm and to find oneself – to release adult hibition and return to natural carefreeness of youth. I sense dualism; you and me could be two versions of one person, or body/mind.

“… Living like we’re renegades …” (Chorus 5-11). The word choice of “renegade” means one who leaves one system of order or belief for another path – one can then create a new path for themselves.

“Long live the pioneers / Rebels and mutineers / Go forth and have no fear / Come close the end is near*” (12-15). These are the types of individuals, Dionysian for Nietzsche, who are brave enough to challenge the norm. Renegades can be comparable to the Overman or ManGod because they refuse to accept what is given so that they can create what they want. They are more human than human – more than the average bear. X Ambassadors ask the Dionysian to come closer because normality is nearing its end, society will need Nietzsche’s physicists to rebuild.

*I’ve listened to the song over 100 times now, and it rather sounds like they say “Come close and bend an ear” for line 15. Maybe it is just stage 3 madness, lol, of over-listening, but just in case, it still fits: gather the unique thinkers together to sort out the plan of action.


“All hail the underdogs / All hail the new kids / All hail the outlaws / Spielbergs and Kubricks” (22-25). More Dionysians: Underdogs – those that should not win but will pull through despite the odds, New Kids – evolved thinkers with fresh concepts, and Outlaws – those that reject directed order and law. And finally, the dreamers of the future, modern artistic expression – directors and writers sculpt concepts into film and literature allowing the individual mind to imagine altered conditions for life.

“It’s our time to make a move / It’s our time to make amends / It’s our time to break the rules / Let’s begin” (26-29). X Ambassadors is prepping the Dionysian. Social media allows like-minded individuals to find one another over vast geological separation. Unique individuals, the physicists, realize that they are not alone, and that by uniting with other’s of similar disposition a new understanding is possible. Down with the old order, in with a new; le roi est mort, vive l’auto.[1]

“… Living like we’re renegades” (Chorus 30-35). Nietzsche’s belief that evil upset good in efforts to create a new understanding. Good did not change, it clung to what was “good” for the past – keeping society in stasis. But humanity, like existence itself, is static and must be able to change/adapt or species will not survive in the constantly evolving world. The opposite of adaptation is extinction. Nietzsche did not say there was no morality – he thought that societal opinion had morality wrong from the start. Good and evil were masks created to cover the true self. Evil looked for improvement, and many results are definitely good: modern necessities like indoor-plumbing, roads, electricity, and technology. However, Nietzsche was not expecting people to turn into cartoon villains – he suggested a closer look at human consideration for the term and expanded possibilities removed from black-or-white configuration.


Works Cited

“Am I Wrong” by Nico & Vinz, 2014.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science. Ed. Bernard Williams. Trans.

Josefine Nauckhoff and Adrian del Caro. Cambridge, United

Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

“Renegades” by X Ambassadors, 3 Mar 2015.

Picture c/o:

[1] “The king is dead; long live the self.”

#PursuitofOptimism #DionysianLifestyle

Dionysian Roll-On

it seems to me that Nietzsche’s Dionysian is comparable to Kierkegaard’s aesthetic, with the main difference being that the Seducer was viewed negatively while Nietzsche does not leave room for others to critique the man-god Dionysian. Or…Kierkegaard [in my opinion] did not like the aesthetic and sided more with Judge Wilhelm and ethics; whereas, Nietzsche was a Dionysian himself and was attempting to encourage society to embrace new concepts while letting go of past misconceptions.

The Dionysian was a man-god: a human person with exceptional abilities in which one utilized personal preference to shape one’s experience. Based on Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, the Dionysian movement encouraged participants to live fully and to try anything interesting that crossed their path. They were expected to experience severe misery because they were able to know the fullest joy. In a way, they were extremists – when they loved it was true, when they cried it was agony – there was no middle ground. Nietzsche said, “He who is richest in fullness of life, the Dionysian god and man, can allow himself not only the sight of what is terrible and questionable but also the terrible deed and every luxury of destruction, decomposition, negation …” (370). The Dionysian knew that they were creating themselves, and they were able ignore labels such as “good/evil” because, as gods, they knew that there could be good as a result of evil and evil from good intentions – it was not their playing field. Their goal was to experience, to live, and most of all, to create.

Aesthetic value is found in art and music for Nietzsche, here lay the true beauty of the human experience. Once Nietzsche stripped away the need for a god, what was the human left with…music. Art and music were the human engines of creation. I have loved Nietzsche for roughly half of my life. My motto used to be: Live one’s life as art! I still find pause with process, I see much beauty in the ability to express, not just the final project. I would pay five times as much for the same piece of art if I were able to watch the art being created before I purchase it, because later, when viewing the art, I would remember the moment the artist took his stroke or the scent of paint and mad creation in the air.

Overall, I see the Dionysian as opposite to moral expectations of the masses. Dionysian is very close to “pleasure living” with their concerns fixed in the present – they want to live life while they can because there is no afterlife, this is it. Now, I know Nietzsche gets attacked from every angle, but look at what he was arguing against – set belief aside and work with only organic natural possibilities – the religious belief system is not very believable if one is not raised with the message harped into one’s existence. Christianity, boiled way down, basically says that the physical life [the one each person actually lives] is nothing compared to the afterlife [the one we have zero proof or evidence of]; that living is just a phase before one can spend eternity in heaven. Please take a moment and truly consider this. Now tell me why it is that Nietzsche is the one off base?


Works Cited

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science. Ed. Bernard Williams. Trans.

Josefine Nauckhoff and Adrian del Caro. Cambridge, United

Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Picture c/o:

Dionysian Origins

, I have not found a specific term to label Nietzsche’s alternative considerations, but he advised individuals to create themselves by experiencing pain and pleasure, allowing room for one’s own selfish concerns, and acknowledging progress to belong to evil intentions. Or, rather, asked for a redefinition/understanding of the terms “good and evil.” I think Nietzsche wants us to be honest and ask ourselves, “What do I think I want? Let us see…I’ll have to try each flavor, as I cannot rely on a universal demand to tell me I prefer lemon. I think I like chocolate better.” Here, duty would demand that lemon was the flavor and sucking a lemon tart was the moral thing to do. “Evil” urged that another flavor would not be as tart. Experience showed chocolate as personal preference. Evil encouraged change. {Imagine room full of stiff philosophers sucking on lemons, and Nietzsche stretched out with a box of Godiva. lol<>}.

Nietzsche saw the qualities of good and evil as motivating forces for humankind to determine their own path. However, the ability to improve fell on the side of evil and not good; Nietzsche said, “The strongest and most evil spirits have so far done the most to advance humanity… they forced men to pit opinion against opinion, ideal model against ideal model” (4). Real change were implemented by men of evil intent – the people who were not satisfied with current rule and used force to upend reality – while the men of good intent were attempting to keep life nice and easy. Nietzsche saw anything “new” as linked to evil because it disordered the previous good. Nietzsche said, “All refined servility clings to the categorical imperative and is the mortal enemy of those who want to deprive duty of its unconditional character…” (5). He saw duty as created obligation used as means to ensure that the average human fed the artificial system of society. He advised humanity to give up their moral high-horses and to recognize their own selfishness; Nietzsche said, “For it is selfish to consider one’s own judgement [sic] a universal law, and this selfishness is blind, petty, and simple because it shows that you haven’t yet discovered yourself or created for yourself an ideal of your very own…” (335). Selfishness is not all bad, as we have seen in previous texts this session. What matters is what one does with their selfish considerations.

The message I receive from Nietzsche is that we are all master’s of our own universes and not limited to strict morality as society understood it – individually, people are able to create themselves, and they do not need society to tell them how to do it. Dionysian pessimism was predicted for the future, in the hands of anarchists – those seized with romantic pessimism that extended their torture on the lot of humanity; Nietzsche said:


The desire for destruction, for change and for becoming can be the expression of an overflowing energy pregnant with the future (my term for this is, as is known, ‘Dionysian’); but it can also be the hatred of the ill-constituted, deprived, and underprivileged one who destroys and must destroy because what exists, indeed all existence, all being, outrages and provokes him (370).


Is this ‘Dionysian’ his term to replace morality? The becoming process was a path for unique and incomparable individuals who wanted to create their own laws as well as themselves, he said: “Sitting in moral judgement [sic] should offend our taste” (Nietzsche 335). Life was a process that required physicists to create reality.


Works Cited

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science. Ed. Bernard Williams. Trans.

Josefine Nauckhoff and Adrian del Caro. Cambridge, United

Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Thank you for the picture:

Faith, Reason, and Consciousness according to Herr Professor

{Peer} noted that faith and spiritualization, for Nietzsche, are separate from instinct. Let’s look for balance between faith, reason, and consciousness.


  • in oneself – hard to come by; people spend too much time convincing their inner skeptic that the self is worth supporting; may require genius (284).
  • errors of – Nietzsche sees many truths exposed as erroneous and the weakest form of knowledge; to include: “that there are enduring things; that there are identical things, kinds of material, bodies; that a thing is what it appears to be; that our will is free; that what is good for me is also good in and for itself” (110).
  • cause and effect – Faith relies on belief, not factual evidence or empirical truth. It is an extended working of the imagination. Nietzsche noted that one’s belief would change dependent on experience; he said, “Before the effect one believes in causes different from those one believes in after the effect” (217).


  • Nietzsche sees reason as clouded because humanity assumes too many false truths to really work out any hard-core expressions of reason.
  • e. How can one find reason in a soup of belief?
  • the add-on-liars – Custom, or handing down one tradition from a previous age and forcing it on a new age, results in people supporting false notions. Nietzsche said, “… one lied to oneself, inventing reasons for these laws, simply to avoid admitting that one had become used to them and would no longer have it any other way. … And that is what one does, and has always done, within every prevailing morality and religion: the reasons and intents behind habits are invented only when some people start attacking the habits and asking for reasons and intents” (29).


  • The aware, knowing element to the human mind. The singular force inside each human that must determine what is true and how to roll through life.
  • {much notation present in forum discussions}

As displayed over these past weeks, I like to break things down to see how they may be connected. If one of those things disprove the other, then I cannot see how a bridge could be formed – though there may be a way, I just cannot kin it. Consciousness is dependent on being aware of the truth, and reason further addresses the truth to discover motivation and intent as well as process and expectancy of outcome. Faith is dependent on belief. One of these is not like the other<>. Truth and belief are nemesis, on a serious level. Truth requires proof, evidence, and empirical considerations while belief is secured to superstition, religion, mysticism, spiritualism, occultism (and Santa Claus}. While Yin and Yang balance the other out, Truth and Belief are not comparable – one makes the other false, not equal. Imagine Truth as a baseball field and you are running the bases. Belief comes into play, and suddenly the ground is made up of water. Try to continue running the bases. You cannot. The bases are gone. There is no balance because one cannot reason themselves out of the situation. The moment one realized it was water and started to swim, the mind was already twisting around “how in the world did this happen? If the field is a pool then why would my coach tell me to wear cleats?” There is no reason here, no logic to deduce. Anything could happen. Down the rabbit hole we go! Reason and truth do not live in belief.


Works Cited

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science. Ed. Bernard Williams. Trans.

Josefine Nauckhoff and Adrian del Caro. Cambridge, United

Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Thank you for the picture:×768.jpg

Morality as noted by Nietzsche

Nietzsche’s concept of morality was described as a natural human factor based on the societal urges of the individual – something he refers to as herd instinct. Social media displays a plethora of references to the masses of modern society as sheep – and the participants could easily have gotten this notion from Nietzsche; he said, “With morality the individual is instructed to be a function of the herd and to ascribe value to himself only as a function” (116). Humans require motivation to perform actions, but Nietzsche saw this as a biological expression not afforded nature, in other words – nature would not be defined by man’s laws.

He viewed the universe as accidental chaos, or a lack of order and said, “… in no way does [nature] strive to imitate man! In no way do our aesthetic and moral judgements apply to it! It also has no drive to self-preservation or any other drives; nor does it observe any laws” (Nietzsche 111). He viewed matter as an error and therefore an exception to what should be natural law. Nietzsche called for a re-evaluation of a de-deified nature – allowing room for nature and species to continue to change along it’s exceptional chaotic path. I see it as workings of evolution. Morals belonged to the herd instinct and were not dependent on religious factors, or God. Humanity itself, with the natural adaptive qualities of an organism, adapted to become godlike, erasing the need for God – Nietzsche felt the concept of deity would become a thing of the past, but he noted that the time he spoke was too soon; he told a parable of the madman: “This tremendous event is still on its way, wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. … This deed is still more remote to them than the remotest stars – and yet they have done it themselves!” (125).

Nietzsche saw culture as a product of social experience, but morality as an active motivator for the human species – accredited to the overriding demands of the community. Nietzsche held “…where need and distress have for a long time forced people to communicate, to understand each other swiftly and subtly, there finally exists a surplus of this power and art of expression, a faculty, so to speak, which has slowly accumulated and now waits for an heir to spend it lavishly” (354). Culture was what expression caught from experience, and though he felt artists lacking, it was their responsibility to form culture for society.

People are often upset when reading Nietzsche. Is this because we are still, even in the modern sense, not ready to accept natural lessons?


Works Cited

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science. Ed. Bernart Williams. Trans.

Josefine Nauckhoff and Adrian Del Caro. Cambridge, United

Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Thank you for the picture:

Essay: On Popular Culture

{Graduate Studies; originally written for History 557 Fall 2014}

Popular Culture is a vast, nearly limitless scope but may be categorized initially by high culture or public culture. There is an elite audience of learned intellectuals who critique and address the meaning of the performance, and there is the popular audience of the people en masse who came to be entertained, to laugh, cry, or scream. The historical importance of each branch of Popular Culture is significant, lower classes are often overlooked; historian Peter Burke defined the people: “We decided we would study the history of the excluded, the dominated, the subordinate groups and classes (whom we refuse to call ‘the masses’) and not only their standard of living but their culture as well.1” Both sub-cultures merging together would be transcendental yet chaotic; best to let them breathe separately, the better to research and study. Popular Culture should be as important as any other aspect of culture; however, the field is viewed as distrustful and unstable. The value of Popular Culture is the current views of the everyday people are taken into consideration via the items people purchase, watch, play, and consume. The marketing industry is surely keen as to what people are gobbling up next which effects the product demands of business.

The downfall of popular opinion and preferences is that the mass populace is not always educated; they hold no credit to represent the opinion of such a broad subject. Lawrence Levine notes the creators and receptors of folklore, offering that the scholars are to create artistic works for the populace to enjoy. He quotes Ellison who said: “the void of faceless faces, of soundless voices, lying outside of history.2” Literary critics earned esteemed opinions as they study and interpret pieces of art literally and metaphorically. They look deeper than the text to reveal messages and implications stimulated through sensory thought. The opinions of the learned community would greatly vary from that of the mass populace.

Asa Briggs brings to attention the importance and possible danger of such a fascination for leisure activities that encompass Popular Culture; Briggs said: “the input from current popular culture itself, sometimes exciting, often disturbing. {…} the history of leisure3” (Briggs 40). Leisure can be a problem when one has too much of a good thing. American consumers want more and new products/entertainment. American economics and financial struggle appear staggering, yet compared to a football player’s salary they seem as peanuts.

Works Cited

Briggs, Asa. “What is the History of Popular Culture?” History Today 35, no. 12

(December 1985): 39-45. Accessed September 4, 2014. APUS Online Library.

Burke, Peter. “What is the History of Popular Culture?” History Today 35, no. 12

(December 1985): 39-45. Accessed September 4, 2014. APUS Online Library.

Levine, Lawrence. “The Folklore of industrial society: Popular Culture and its

Audiences.” American Historical Review 97, no. 5 (December 1992): 1369-

  1. Accessed September 4, 2014. APUS Online Library.

1 Burke, Peter. “What is the History of Popular Culture?” History Today 35, no. 12

(December 1985): 40. Accessed September 4, 2014. APUS Online Library.

2 Levine, Lawrence. “The Folklore of industrial society: Popular Culture and its

Audiences.” American Historical Review 97, no. 5 (December 1992): 1365. Accessed September 4, 2014. APUS Online Library.

3 Briggs, Asa. “What is the History of Popular Culture?” History Today 35, no. 12

(December 1985): 40. Accessed September 4, 2014. APUS Online Library.

Picture c/o:

Essay: Maintaining Madness

Maintaining Madness:

Adjusting Society to Include Undesirables

via Asylums and Private Care Facilities

by A.D. Shaffer

{Graduate Studies; originally written for History 557 Fall 2014}

“Maud with her venturous climbings and

tumbles and childish escapes,

Maud with the delight of the village, the ring-

ing joy of the Hall,

Maud with her sweet purse-mouth when

my father dangled the grapes,

Maud the beloved of my mother, the

moon-faced darling of all, – “[1]

Madness offers escape for the creative or confused mind as well as the genetically deficient. Societal standards are excused of those whose minds are not rationally sane – modernly allotting the absurd behavior within the confines of the individual whose lacking in average capabilities. Insanity occurs for variant reasons in the minds of humanity, and often results in inexplicable and unusual actions on the part of the insane. Without means to permanently rid humanity of insanity, containing said victims of mental diseases are preferable for the comforts of society – whether by private or state funding, asylums act as corrals to house the mentally and criminally insane so as to shield the mass population from the undesirable unfortunates. I intend to examine through architecture, medicine, and environment, the pros and cons of maintaining madhouses or common residence homes in lieu of allowing the insane to venture the streets of the city at their leisure. New Personal Care Facilities do not require grand structures like the state asylums, nor do they house constant doctors. The facilities are state run businesses constructed inside homes to replicate a family environment living arrangements for those unable to live independently.

For the safety of the grand population as well as the inmate population, the criminally insane are separated from the average criminal. Special housing, in more secure asylums, confine the criminally insane individual for the safety of himself as well as the general population. The criminally insane typically adopt a delusional state of mind which defines the harsh anti-social tendencies, Bowers notes: “Their delusions, when organized generally, concern society, with whom they have always been at war, but the definite fabric of their false beliefs is woven about {public officials. Preparing} long statements replete with legal terms setting forth their grievances and complaints against the world at large.”[2] The criminally insane often believe they are slighted by society and should revolt to restore autonomic authority. As this upsets the heteronomy of modern society, secluded confinement is deemed the safest method in regards to the insane mind.

Inside asylums capable of housing the criminally insane, the noted patients are again secluded from the hospital population. In Weston State Lunatic Asylum this was the west wing of the fourth floor, Ward F for men and Ward C for the women.   A particular incident involving the murder of patient Charlie by patient Joe was related to me during a History Tour of The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum as well as discussed on the Travel Channel – Joe, with the assistance of other patients, first attempted to hang Charlie, a recent lobotomy patient; when that failed they lowered his body to the floor, and using the leg of an iron bed, crushed Charlie’s head by jumping on the bed.[3] The staff primarily blamed overcrowding of the hospital for the violence which occurred. Separating the classes of lunatics were means of preserving the less disturbed from the demons of the seriously tormented. Or, the seriously tormented could be reduced to the vegetate state.

As many as 440 lobotomies were conducted at one time at Weston State Lunatic Asylum. Dr. Walter Freeman rolled through on the lobotomobile leaving quiet, unaffected patients in his wake. Lobotomies were the go to cure in the early 20th century as means to destroy the frontal lobe – the area of the brain that controls emotions and creativity. The lobotomy removed the urge to rage inside the unstable brain; lobotomized patients were easier to deal with than raging psychotic minds: “Those who did survive might be left in a permanent vegetative state.”[4] The state hospital was shut down in the mid 1990s with high records of murder, occasionally that of a staff member, as well as rape and violent abuse. Weston Asylum was not the only benefactor of Dr. Freeman, his patient Howard A. Dully received more than one lobotomy at his hands, the first being at Doctors General Hospital December 15, 1960. Dully writes that while he holds no recollection of the events, Dr. Freeman’s notes entail the use of electroshock therapy to sedate and revive Dully – a paper receipt said, “Transorbital lobotomy. A sharp instrument was thrust through the orbital roof on both sides and moved so as to sever the brain pathways in the frontal lobes.”[5] Electroshock and lobotomies were useful tools to internally restrain the patient, scramble and/or fry their brains so that they no longer display passionate bouts of madness.

Mechanical restraints were older means of harnessing a patient before Dr. Freeman discovered the oriental method of lobotomies. Chains, bonds, and constructed means of metal and iron were utilized by insane asylums to prevent a patient from harming oneself or another human being, Bucknill notes the usage of mechanical restraints as necessary evils needed to bend the will of the unfortunate creatures – those not socially acceptable, therefore demanding seclusion and treatment.[6] A lessening of humanity is offered to said individuals; once deemed ‘insane’ the mass populace issues allowance for improper behavior, labeling the unfortunates as ‘poor unfortunate souls.’ Here enters the acceptance for otherwise immoral treatment – doctors could not understand the ingredients of insanity or how to address the illnesses so they physically restrained the patient to prevent the ability to harm oneself or another. By 1793 Philippe Pinel of Paris “embraced the progressive thinking of the Enlightenment. If insanity was a mental disorder, it had to be relieved through mental approaches. Physical restraint was at best an irrelevance, at worst a lazy expedient and an irritant. Treatment must penetrate to the psyche.”[7]

Doctors of the mind evolved as Alienists, and the field of psychology developed from the need thereof: “The private madhouse served the ‘trade in lunacy’, but it also became a forcing-house for the development of psychiatry as an art and science. The asylum was not instituted for the practice of psychiatry; psychiatry rather was the practice developed to manage its inmates.”[8] Bucknill notes on the American’s lack of Commissioners of Lunacy as advisors which directed them to rely heavily on the advice of the medical specialists – using the skills of the alienist to determine the needs of the patients from architectural design to room temperature.[9] The role of alienists, and the extreme authority placed upon them, brought fear and terror to any suspect of lunacy, Carr captures the fictitious presence of the doctor: “{…} the usual sounds of madness gave way to an eerie attempt at coherent communication on the part of most of the inmates. {…} Indeed, it was in some ways worse on the nerves, for one knew that the attempt at order was a strained one, and that the sounds of anguish would soon return…”[10] Feigning normalcy, the patients worked to convince the doctors of their sanity – frantic attempts at release. As patients of the asylum the inmate held societal worth in forms of entertainment, experimentation, and manual labor.

Bucknill remarks pointedly on the humane and considerable demonstrations of Dr. Thomas Kirkbride, specifically in relation to The Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane in Philadelphia. Concluding with a plea to American institutions to accept the embarrassing oddities, mechanical restraints, and undesirable components of the institution for the insane instead of secreting the actions away and hiding the truth; let the insane be insane as they know no other path: “They are men, as I most willingly testify, animated by the highest motives of humanity, but ignorant and mistaken in their application of means to the furtherance of that great end to which we all press forward – namely, to the care and cure of the insane with the least amount of suffering.”[11] American institutions prevent the exposure of the activities of the insane to the population to create a false role inside the city of progressive elegance of the manipulations in the mind.

For the city opinion to tolerate the inclusion of an asylum, or more often, private care facilities among the sane individuals of the community, an illusion of control of said lunatics must be maintained. Avoiding the high costs of excessively expensive facility fees of grand state asylums, modern society eagerly welcomes the inclusion of private care facilities incorporated into homes scattered throughout common neighborhoods inside the city/town. A single family home is remodeled to accommodate grown individuals who stay a percentage or all of the day living inside the created home environment. Hospitals themselves, such as McLean, offer continuing care options outside of the physical hospital such as Appleton Continuing Care Program, in Boston Massachusetts.[12] Direct Support Professionals replace the role of doctor – another cost reduction as little to no skilled training is required to qualify for the job description – with the daily nurse stopping by to ensure medical standards are maintained. Doctors are still available, simply at a more detached sort of connection. The salary of a DSP is laughable compared to that of a well-educated doctor of medicine. Removing the luxuries and grandeur allotted top dollar facilities like McLean, more affordable and efficient organizations offer small scale living inside the community such as “Community Passages,” Resources for Human Development located in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania which offers care for mentally challenged adults. The mission statement of Community Passages clearly addresses the slide from asylum living to community inclusion:

Community Passages is a community based residential program, designed to provide a home/family like environment for individuals with developmental disabilities and/or dual diagnoses, many of whom present significantly challenging behaviors and most of whom previously resided at State Schools and Hospitals.  Our mission is to offer creative and innovative supports promoting community skill development, increased self-esteem, self-determination and personalized budgets to foster individualized programs in a safe and open environment, while encouraging consumer empowerment and personal growth.[13]

The surroundings being altered, from that of a castle-like secluded state to average immersion into the community, raise concern for the patient/inmate as well as the public. However, reduction of fellow patient/inmate status is greatly reduced; Community Passages houses only thirteen individuals. With at least two DSPs monitoring and encouraging self-development, the individuals are provided with a more modern lifestyle. Humanity is progressively returning to incorporating the insane amid the sane, an accepted tolerance of the community implies that society is able to embrace the follies of madness as a part of natural occurrences. David Rothman heads the school of thought that asylums are required to restore order: “their further development drew strength from the combined effects of a humanitarian reform movement, appealing new models of medical entrepreneurs and asylum superintendents who advocated an institution-based therapy known as “moral treatment.””[14] Late eighteen century philosophers freed madmen of their chains, Pinel’s traitement moral “{…} meant rather that the new therapies applied to the mind, not the body, of the patient. Traitement moral referred to a benevolent approach to caretaking, in which reformers called for patients to develop self-control under the guidance of paternalistic doctors.”[15] Moral concerns display the mentally challenged populace as deserving of more humane treatment. While seclusion inside the elegant asylums afforded a sense of grace to insanity, incorporation back into society allows a clearer voice of acceptance for natural dispositions of madness…and a means to rehabilitate the individual back into society. Esquirol, a follower of Pinel, broadened on the original theories and “pressed the reforms further, transforming the asylum into a therapeutic community where doctors and patients lived together, and at his private clinic, certain patients even dined at the family table.”[16] Modern enlightenment of equal humane living acceptance follows the philosophy of the eighteenth century and broadens it to include non-doctors and home-like institutions. A sense of belonging is granted to the individuals permitted to leave the institution for monitored care. A place is to be incorporated for them to find purpose inside society. Dr. Thomas Kirkbride’s asylums offered an embracing nature, not only encouraging local participation but actually developing society from the institution.

Weston State Lunatic Asylum was a self-sufficient facility for the insane maintained by the patients themselves. Hospitals held their own value for the city structure: “Henceforth, hospitals became tools for both physical and moral recovery. The former, secular goal led some institutions to accelerate the ongoing medicalization process by hiring more members of the medical profession for their caregiving staffs.”[17] Two personas thrived inside the hospital: the patient/practioner and the practioner/patrons: “The hospital in ante-bellum America can thus be more usefully seen as a battleground for the conflicting values of traditional stewardship and the priorities of an emerging profession than as the coherent expression of a carefully articulated vision of society. {…} maintain[ing] a degree of psychological autonomy despite the pain and deprivation which might characterize his external life.”[18] Weston patients each held responsibilities inside the facility, and were harnessed with chores that the institution required to function.[19] No outside assistance or employment was rendered as the patients pulled the work yoke. Patients, dependent on their physical limitations, worked in the kitchen, the morgue, the laundry room, and the grounds. Weston came complete with a lumberyard, stone quarry, and cemetery where deceased patients and town folk alike were buried. In contrast to the park-like cemeteries, the Weston cemetery was secluded behind the hospital. Niceties were not afforded as costs prevented luxurious burials. The majority of patients were incinerated in the crematory. The Great Lawn offered peaceful reflection with landscape comforts which space did not permit for in the hospital’s cemetery. Menial tasks such as cleaning and restoration fell on the patients – not just as ‘free labor’ but also as a means to let the patients feel included in the asylum family. Positions the asylum needed filled by sane individuals attracted such a following that the town of Weston formed from the individuals working or being treated at the hospital.

Community involvement at Weston State Lunatic Asylum borders on questionable in terms of society sanity – since 1869 until the facility closed in the 1990s, the high school prom as well as other social events were held in the asylum: “It must have been strange, and certainly a subject of dark humor to attend a prom, knowing that only a couple doors away, there were over a thousand lunatics.”[20]In 1871, a new auditorium hosted dances known as the Lunatic Ball, where the inmates were able to enjoy social dances viewed by the public for entertainment. The fun had to be reigned in as the social activities between normally segregated male and female patients ended explicitly: “When the first dances were held there were immediate problems, caused by couples disappearing. Their whereabouts became clear when the switchboard lit up with calls complaining that naked patients were out on the front lawn engaged in lewd behavior.”[21]Football games for Weston High School took place on the asylum’s Great Lawn, and baseball became tradition at the hospital; Dr. Kirkbride supported physical activity as means for balanced living, outdoor fairs, sports, and a variety of events held Weston State Lunatic Asylum as an esteemed social venue for Lewis County.[22]The community of Weston thrived as a result of the asylum the patients were welcomed members of society.

The sense of inclusion offered the patients of Weston State Lunatic Asylum is in stark contrast to the model set by Bedlam: “If one knows anything about Bethlem, it is probably that the place operated as a kind of freak show and human zoo, with paying customers gaping at the inmates. Although visiting was a popular pastime, recent scholarship has revised and tempered the famous myth.”[23] Scholarship details that the spectacle was partially the magnificence of the architecture of the asylum itself, the intricate detail and beauty demonstrated through stone, windows, and causeways. America did not have many castles like Europe – but asylums were formed after the castle design incurring gothic old world romanticism into modern design to fully rehabilitate and soothe the patients. The public also benefited from the refreshing structures, and the fee they paid was returned to the facility as means of simple profits. Like the nostalgic benefits of monuments and arts, spectacle was satisfied through community display: “To the degree that the Gardens embodies their home city, they function like other works of public art and monuments, providing a lens through which to explore larger themes, revealing changing community values, power relations, institutions, and historical change.”[24] Public art soothes the community, when paired with structures of grandeur such as the asylum, society enjoys the spectacle provided by the city institution.

The architectural design of insane asylums has long been conducive to treatment and care of affected individuals. Great care was taken to induce the patient to reside only in their rooms for sleeping, and for them to spend the majority of their days with other patients for social interaction. Bucknill, however, addresses the exact opposite in regards to the elite hospital of Boston – McLean: “It struck me, however, that these patients lived too much by themselves in their own rooms for their therapeutic welfare, and that smaller structures with smaller rooms, and with common rooms for meals and social intercourse, would have been better suited to promote the cheerfulness and happiness of the patients.”[25] Interestingly enough, McLean housed numerous depressed and suicidal patients – those of which did not survive on the methods found agreeable with the institution such as insulin shock treatments. Famous poetess Sylvia Plath, an extremely depressed individual, sought the healing walls of McLean yet offed herself shortly after leaving the hospital: “Like most McLean patients, Plath was dosed up on the antipsychotic drug Thorazine, which contributed to her affectless behavior.”[26] Weston Asylum, currently known as The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, is spacious and constructed with extreme purpose in regards to windows, ventilation, structure, and open non-confining grounds.

An accepted air of community involvement graced the inmates of Weston State Lunatic Asylum. The fence which surrounds the Great Lawn is three feet high and for aesthetic purposes only as it easily could be navigated by any wishing to escape. While the facility was operational, patients would occasionally leave the hospital but were retrieved by the employees: “Weston residents can still recall how it would be announced on the local radio station that an inmate had escaped. {…} Besides their normal duties attendants were expected to be ready, at a moment’s notice, to form a posse and go round up escapees.”[27] The local response to the escaped inmates may merit the locking of the public’s doors, but rarely was the community alarmed by the outings of the patients of the asylum. By the 1950s, however, medication would sweep through the asylum framework, numbing the populace with Throazine to reduce delusions and hallucinations while vegetating the nervous system, disabling the patient. Less attention would be applied to ‘moral treatments’ with the rise of narcotics and anti-psychotic medications. Like the lobotomy, anti-psychotic drugs would re-educate the mind into tolerable and acceptable existence, allowing society to breathe a sigh of relief for the quelled rage of madness. If madness is not seen then it is rarely heard, drugs and lobotomies may quiet outburst but none may escape their dreams. Freud describes madness as being trapped in a dreamlike state unable to rationalize, he quotes philosopher’s theories on madness: “Kant writes {…}: ‘The madman is a waking dreamer.’ Krauss {…} declares that ‘insanity is a dream dreamt while the senses are awake.’ Schopenhauer {…}calls dreams a brief madness and madness a long dream.{…} Wundt {…} writes: ‘We ourselves, in fact can experience in dreams almost all the phenomena to be met with in insane asylums. ”[28] Anyone is subject to dreams, and Freud’s concerns expose the threat of lunacy as a common thread easily torn. Societal understanding is required for a blended community of sane and insane individuals intermingling together for the betterment of all.

Realization of the tender balance between sanity and insanity equates authentic opportunities for the mind to comprehend. While reducing the almighty ego by allowing the unreasonable to exist equally with the reasonable, the individual is reduced to reincorporate the necessary value for the whole community. Insanity does not humanity remove; the bold stance of inclusion into society of their insane will greatly enrich America’s admittance to the flaws of morality. Bucknill notes on America’s refusal to admit that problems and oddities do in fact occur in American asylums. Being English, Bucknill naturally feels defensive for England – who is known for the tortures of Bedlam: “Abuses occur, as they will occur everywhere; but they are remedied, and, if need be, punished, in the most public manner, and the records of them are displayed to the eyes of the world.”[29] There are no records of American abuses or violations to relate, according to public record, and Bucknill is greatly concerned with the American persistence of false perfection: “the great stumbling-block of the American superintendents is their most unfortunate and unhappy resistance to the abolition of mechanical restraint. {…} I was again and again informed that the system of non-restraint had proved quite a failure in England, and that we were rapidly returning to the old practices.”[30] The issue for Americans lies more in the public demonstration of institution practices than for moral concerns in regards to utilizing mechanic restraints – American asylums did use mechanic restraints, they just did not publicly admit to the actions. Nowadays, America is surging ahead with communal living – the moral understanding of variant human nature. With further understanding and acceptance of the duality of mankind, sane and insane, modern America will move forward together to properly define humanity’s impact on existence.


Beam, Alex. Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America’s Premier Mental

Hospital. New York: Public Affairs, 2001.

Bowers, Paul E. “The Dangerous Insane.” Journal of the American Institute of

Criminal Law and Criminology. Vol. 12, No. 3 (1921): pp. 369-80. JSTOR. Accessed on December 19, 2014.

Bucknill, John Charles. Notes on Asylums for the Insane in America – Primary


Source Edition. London: J. & A. Churchill, 1876.

Dully, Howard and Charles Fleming. My Lobotomy – A Memoir. New York: Three

Rivers Press, 2008.

Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams. Trans. James Strachey. New York:

Avon Books, 1998.

Gleason, Edward S. Lunatic The Rise and Fall of an American Asylum <self published

Lunatic Press> USA: 48HrBooks, 2014.

Historical Asylum Tour. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. October 4, 2014.

Jimenez, Mary Ann. Changing Faces of Madness: Early American Attitudes and

Treatment of the Insane.” Rev. Jack D. Pressman. The William and Mary


Quarterly, Vol. 45, No. 3 (1988): p. 606-08. Accessed on December 19, 2014.

Mental Health Communities of Health and Healing, American Residential and Treatment

Association, Accessed on December 19, 2014.

“Mysterious Murders in the Asylum.” Ghost Adventures. Travel Channel: Accessed on December 19, 2014.

Porter, Roy. Madness A Brief History. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Risse, Guenter B. Mending Bodies, Saving Souls: A History of Hospitals. Oxford

University Press, Incorporated, 1999. Accessed on December 19, 2014.

Rosenberg, Charles E. “And Heal the Sick: The Hospital and the Patient in the 19th

Century America.” Journal of Social History, Vol. 10, Iss. 4 (1977): p. 429. Accessed on December 19, 2014.

Tebeau, Mark. “Sculpted Landscapes: Art & Place in Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens,

1916-2006.” Journal of Social History, 2010. pp. 327-50.

Tennyson, Alfred. “Maud.” The Poetical Works of Alfred Tennyson. Cambridge, MA:

The Riverside Press, unk. date. pp. 323-43.

Yanni, Carla. The Architecture of Madness: Insane Asylums in the United States.

Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.

[1] Alfred Tennyson, “Maud,” The Poetical Works of Alfred Tennyson, Cambridge, MA: The Riverside Press, unknown date, p. 325. Accessed December 19, 2014.

[2] Paul E. Bowers, “The Dangerous Insane,” Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 12, No. 3 (1921): pp. 371-72. Accessed December 19, 2014.

[3] “Mysterious Murders in the Asylum,” Ghost Adventures, Travel Channel,, 1:40-2:30. Accessed on December 19, 2014.

[4] “Mysterious Murders in the Asylum,” Ghost Adventures, Travel Channel,, 3:25-3:31. Accessed on December 19, 2014.

[5] Howard Dully and Charles Fleming, My Lobotomy – A Memoir, New York: Three Rivers Press, 2008. p. 99. Accessed December 19, 2014.

[6] John Charles Bucknill, Notes on Asylums for the Insane in America – Primary Source Edition, London: J. & A. Churchill, 1876. pp. 68-75.

[7] Roy Porter, Madness A Brief History, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 105. Accessed December 19, 2014.

[8] Roy Porter, Madness A Brief History. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002. p. 100.

[9] John Charles Bucknill, Notes on Asylums for the Insane in America – Primary Source Edition, London: J. & A. Churchill, 1876. p. 20.

[10] Caleb Carr, The Alienist, New York: Random House, 2006, p. 29.

[11] John Charles Bucknill, Notes on Asylums for the Insane in America – Primary Source Edition, London: J. & A. Churchill, 1876. p. 87.

[12] Mental Health Communities of Health and Healing, American Residential and Treatment Association, Accessed on December 19, 2014.

[13] “Community Passages A Division of RHD,” The Provider Alliance: Sharing Ideas, Resources and Purpose, Accessed on December 19, 2014.

[14] Mary Ann Jimenez, Changing Faces of Madness: Early American Attitudes and Treatment of the Insane,” Rev. Jack D. Pressman, The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 45, No. 3 (1988): p. 606. Accessed on December 19, 2014.

[15] Carla Yanni, The Architecture of Madness: Insane Asylums in the United States, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2007, p. 24.

[16] Carla Yanni, The Architecture of Madness: Insane Asylums in the United States, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2007, p. 26.

[17] Guenter B. Risse, Mending Bodies, Saving Souls: A History of Hospitals, Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 1999, p. 626. Accessed on December 19, 2014.

[18] Charles E. Rosenberg, “And Heal the Sick: The Hospital and the Patient in the 19th Century America,” Journal of Social History, Vol. 10, Iss. 4 (1977): p. 429. Accessed on December 19, 2014.

[19] Historical Asylum Tour, Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, October 4, 2014.

[20] Edward S. Gleason, Lunatic The Rise and Fall of an American Asylum, <self published Lunatic Press> USA: 48HrBooks, 2014, pp. 69-70.

[21] Edward S. Gleason, Lunatic The Rise and Fall of an American Asylum, <self published Lunatic Press> USA: 48HrBooks, 2014, pp. 70-72.

[22] Edward S. Gleason, Lunatic The Rise and Fall of an American Asylum, <self published Lunatic Press> USA: 48HrBooks, 2014, pp. 70-72.

[23] Carla Yanni, The Architecture of Madness: Insane Asylums in the United States, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2007, p. 20.

[24] Mark Tebeau, “Sculpted Landscapes: Art & Place in Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens, 1916-2006,” Section 1 Arts and Cities, Cleveland State University, p. 328. Accessed on December 19, 2014.

[25] John Charles Bucknill, Notes on Asylums for the Insane in America – Primary Source Edition, London: J. & A. Churchill, 1876. p. 9.

[26] Alex Beam, Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America’s Premier Mental Hospital, New York: Public Affairs, 2001, p. 153.

[27] Edward S. Gleason, Lunatic The Rise and Fall of an American Asylum, <self published Lunatic Press> USA: 48HrBooks, 2014, pp. 75.

[28]Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, Trans. James Strachey, New York: Avon Books, 1998, pp. 121-22.

[29] John Charles Bucknill, Notes on Asylums for the Insane in America – Primary Source Edition, London: J. & A. Churchill, 1876. p. 65.

[30] John Charles Bucknill, Notes on Asylums for the Insane in America – Primary Source Edition, London: J. & A. Churchill, 1876. p. 67.

Picture c/o:

Essay: Self-Directed Evolution: Transhumanism Eliminates the Struggle of Life

 Self-Directed Evolution:

Transhumanism Eliminates the Struggle of Life

by A.D. Shaffer

{Graduate Studies; originally written for Humanities 551 Spring 2015}

Humanism considers the nature and the experiences of the human being to be the central point to existence. Biology demonstrates the abilities of humankind as evolutionary genetic modifications and alterations to species throughout organic life over exceptionally long periods of time. Transhumanism recognizes the patterns of evolution – the perfecting of species as adaptable to its changing environment – and seizes evolution’s altruistic characteristics so as to expedite the process of preserving and bettering life. No longer will time reign supreme for the possibility of physical immortality. Disease and deformities could be a worry of the past. I intend to show that through the discoveries of science, humanity will be able to alter genetic makeup and bridge another gap between humankind and the unknown as well as developing a new philosophy for understanding these changes. This paper will first address the advancing human consciousness and then consider the progress possible for transhumanism.

Heightened human awareness ushers in advanced consciousness and integral philosophy with growing concerns for many world issues and problems. The advancement of the human consciousness is best understood through a spiral of growth instead of visualizing linear concepts. According to Steve McIntosh the co-founder of The Institute for Cultural Evolution, the levels of consciousness are: archaic, tribal, warrior, traditional, modernist, postmodern, integral, and postintegral. Each corresponding stage is in reaction to the predominant issue of discord from the stage before it: “This dialectical relationship among the stages can be seen in the way that each stage arises in an antithetical reaction to the problems created by the stage that precedes it. And as the stages unfold within the spiral as a whole, we can see how the themes of earlier stages are recapitulated in later stages but with greater degrees of complexity and sophistication” (McIntosh 35). The spiral is perceived in half, right to left – the right expresses the self while the left sacrifices the self. Humanity must learn to balance the betterment of the individual and the universal betterment for all life.

Integral philosophy deals with internal evolution or an evolution of thinking: “Just as the emergence of modernism produced cultural evolution through its new understanding and mastery of the external universe, we will soon begin to see how the emergence of the integral worldview will result in similarly dramatic cultural evolution through its new understanding and mastery of the internal universe” (McIntosh 17-18). Modernism realized the objective and subjective nature of humankind and allowed for scientific progress. Postmodernism saw the coldness of science, and fought against social Darwinism, demanding that all life is equal. The first integral philosopher was Georg W.F. Hegel: “By revealing how history unfolds in a dialectical process wherein conflict makes possible the transformation to a higher state, Hegel laid the foundation for the evolutionary understanding of the universe that has since become central to all scientific and philosophical thought” (McIntosh 160). Integral concerns, which are still in the process of emerging, will include a worldview with universal considerations and empathetic nature to the individual as part of a whole.

Nico & Vinz composed the song Am I Wrong? for what is commonly known as the collective or Anonymous – a group of people who share the same concerns in regards to the continuation of life. Their lyrics suggest a new method for progress, but the concept is only an idea and society attempts to conform their thoughts: “I ain’t tryna do what everybody else doing / Just cause everybody doing what they all do / If one thing I know, I’ll fall but I’ll grow /I’m walking down this road of mine, this road that I call home” (Nico & Vinz). Falling down indicates failure, but the meaning is positive because a lesson is learned. The sprawling political activist group Anonymous has championed this song, and it speaks to every person who has questioned the direction of authority. The song recommends to allow for the individual without reducing the whole of humanity: “Walk to walk and don’t look back, always do what you decide / Don’t let them control your life, that’s just how I feel / Fight for yours and don’t let go, don’t let them compare you, no / Don’t worry, you’re not alone, that’s just how we feel” (Nico & Vinz). The ‘I’ was changed to ‘We’ because Nico & Vinz know that they are not alone in feeling this desire to make the movement real – to issue in integral consciousness.

The Internet greatly assists the human consciousness by connecting the world with technology. Prior to the 1990s, information was gathered the old fashioned way – writing letters or word of mouth. People from dislocated areas were not connected with the Western world, but now technology is reaching out to bring the world online. Integral consciousness starts inside the human being, it is an inkling that something will fix the problems of the world once enough minds are aware that change is required to move forward. Society has not reached a full realization of the importance of preserving all the life in the world, but the institution is on the way. At the moment, a large portion of the Western world is lodged in postmodernism in which it faces: “an intense struggle with traditionalism to define the morality and attract the allegiance of the modernist majority” (McIntosh 61). Postmodernism fails to acknowledge the necessity of the spiral in that the lessons of consciousness lead to the ultimate goal of integral thought. Postmodern thought wants humanity to swallow down lessons that they are not quite ready for – namely the issues of Islam, a nation firmly rooted in traditionalist consciousness and highly tinged with warrior mentality.

Integral consciousness understands the importance of nations of people progressing properly toward enlightenment and beyond. The stages of the spiral are prerequisite before progress can be gained. Nations cannot be forced into a new understanding. McIntosh notes that humanity must experience the spiral:

The rise of postmodern consciousness has now had a significant impact on the politics of the Western democracies. In fact, each new stage of consciousness that has emerged in the sequence of historical development has been endowed with an advantage over the stage that preceded it by virtue of the increased depth and complexity of its values. Warrior consciousness defeats tribal consciousness because of its ruthless ferocity and energetic determination. Traditional consciousness is usually able to defeat warrior consciousness because of its superior organization and group discipline. Modernist consciousness overcomes traditional consciousness as a result of its technological and industrial superiority. And postmodern consciousness finds its advantage over modernism in its unique ability to bring about change through nonviolent political action and moral strength (57).

Everything alive is required to change so as to continue onward. Geological elements set the standard, and organic life is forced to respond to fluctuating nature. Consciousness or the ability to recognize and be aware of those changes is in itself an element of evolution. For human beings evolution has occurred inside the intellect. Adaptability is a gift of natural selection, it is a way for species to adjust their internal makeup or external abilities to better evolve with the habitat. In his piece “Zoological Philosophy (1809),” Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine De Monet Lamarck discussed the ability to change one’s habits so as to fit with the ever-changing world, and in doing so he addressed the phasing out of one organ to issue a more appropriate and successful attempt at continued life: “Hence we may infer that when some change in the environment leads to a change of habit in some race of animals, the organs that are less used die away little by little, while those which are more used develop better, and acquire a vigor and size proportional to their use” (45). Much like evolution’s encouragement to species to adjust to the physical world, consciousness also adjusts to understand that world must change to allow for progress. Environment issues the playing field in which species must adapt to survive. However, modern human beings are able to control the environment in which they live – the ancients would view modern peoples as gods.

The way something is in existence is partially dependent on how the human mind perceives that something to be, and how humanity handles life is becoming less of a struggle with a greater consciousness. As the human race becomes more empathetic society will better accommodate acceptance. Ethical concerns arise over basic scientific issues with genetic enhancement such as side effects or animal abuse, but ultimately the fear of altering human nature is abundant. However, human nature is a changing thing that is also affected by evolution. Also, changing is the way in which consciousness perceives reality. Human nature is more advanced in modern times than it was in the ancient world – this is due to the adaptive abilities of humanity. In Radical Evolution, Jaron Lanier notices two areas of human progress: technological and moral. The moral incline of evolution can be understood when considering the past actions of humanity: “… those who deny the existence of a moral incline are not in touch with the enthusiasm humans once brought to raping, pillaging and burning” (Garreau 210). During the time of the Romans – known as the Golden Age – gladiators battled wild beasts and enslaved men till the death for entertainment, today these acts of savagery would be unheard of. Fear of losing human nature is impossible; although human nature is apt to change, the advances of science will not extinguish the nature of man but usher it further.

McIntosh notes the concern for human nature, but he describes human nature as selfish, war hungry, and a have or have-nots society – why would society fear the loss of these negatives characteristics? The fact that human nature evolves along with the physical self is a boon for integral thinking, and the evolution of the nature of man will permit transhumanistic implantation as acceptable. Currently, artificial enhancement is already present in modern America as seen every time a person puts on a pair of glasses or chews with false teeth. Humanity has been partially artificial for over a hundred years, easily. Scientific capabilities are an extension of man, or an expression of the human experience and therefore natural. Artificial intelligence is manmade but the process for humankind to utilize machines is definitely natural. Intelligence is humanity’s modifier of evolution; through the human ability to perceive and contemplate, people can imagine what-if scenarios as means to solve problems by envisioning the possible outcome so that human beings have surpassed natural evolution (Garreau 72). Evolution offers many gifts, the human responsibility is to experiment with one’s contemplative intelligence in order to discover or create new avenues to perfection.

Perfection needs clarified to mean the most suited to success as per evolutionary means toward advanced organic life. Perfection took on a new meaning in Aldous Huxley’s futuristic piece A Brave New World in which humanity was reduced to Alphas or Epsilons, world controllers or sewage workers (13). The Epsilons do not require intelligence like the Alphas do, and the Hatchery is working on genetic formulas to speed up the physical growth of the Epsilons so that they could begin labor at ten years old. The Alphas are removed from humanity. In order to avoid the upset of emotions, Alphas regularly take pills – somas – to remove experience, Lenina says, “A gramme is always better than a damn” (90). The people prefer virtual simulations to human interactions and no longer copulate as reproduction is handled at the Hatchery through incubation. Bernard refuses the culture and the soma, preferring the New Mexico holiday to be a reality instead of forced perfection and separation from the emotions.

Emotions are an evolutionary advancement that allows for species to connect with others to form society. Humanity is a known social creature, and the recipe is in the genes. Matt Ridley discusses ‘the selfish gene’ theory to determine the social interests of humankind; he said, “{Human beings} come into the world equipped with predispositions to learn how to cooperate, to discriminate the trustworthy from the treacherous, to commit themselves to be trustworthy, to earn good reputations, to exchange goods and information, and to divide labor” (522). The goal of trustworthiness is a social concern; humans want to be able to trust members of society. Human beings thrive in numbers and are not meant to live solitary lives. The evolution of emotions can be seen in the civil rights movements – people did not always care for the less fortunate as they do in postmodern times.

Morality is the ability to discern right from wrong as applicable to the society one wants to live in. Frans De Waal acknowledged morality in animals and recognized an advanced moral code in human beings. Evolution created morality: “Evolution has produced the requisites for morality: a tendency to develop social norms and enforce them, the capacities of empathy and sympathy, mutual aid and a sense of fairness, the mechanisms of conflict resolution, and so on” (Waal 513). Morality is a priori and a biological process accredited to genetic code. Morals belong to the human being and not to any spiritual or government office. Waal continues to prove that morality is a neurological process and not dependent on the heart: “Once thought of as purely spiritual matters, honesty, guilt, and the weighing of ethical dilemmas are traceable to specific areas of the brain. … The human brain is a product of evolution” (517). Ethics are inherent in human nature, yet religion has laid claim to morality. As humanity continues to ride the spiral of consciousness, the religious concerns of traditionalism will fade away to make room for transhumanistic endeavors.

Enhanced humans will create an advanced norm that a natural human will never attain. Joel Garreau discusses the future possibilities of transhumanism through genetic enhancement in his text Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies – and What It Means to Be Human. He describes three scenarios: Heaven, Hell, and Prevail. The scenarios are dependent on Moore’s Law and the upcoming Singularity. Technological advances such as gaming devices, cellular phones, laptops and the Internet are truly important aspects of modern human life. While in Silicon Valley, Garreau noted, “I have spoken to people who say they consider regular human relationships superfluous and outdated, that they get everything they need from the computer. They say that and mean it; they’re not kidding around” (63). Human dependency on machines is an everyday norm for modern America. In the average American home, even families that still sit down to dinner together typically resort to communication via text message over actually speaking to each other face to face. The Curve as well as human dependency on machines escalate each year, pushing towards the inevitable moment when the machines are able to control themselves and humans are no longer necessary…the Singularity: “This greater-than-human intelligence in turn proceeds to replicate and improve itself at such a rate as to exceed comprehension” (Garreau 82). Once the Singularity occurs, humanity will hold no authority. However, Garreau does not believe that will come to a head, he prefers the Prevail scenario as a balanced transhuman effort.

Before delving into the Heaven and Hell Scenarios one must understand the Singularity. Ray Kurzweil describes the upcoming Singularity as an exponential theory that the doubling of matter and technological advances will lead humanity to a point where nothing works anymore, to a singular point that humanity cannot come back from. In his TEDtalk “A University for the Upcoming Singularity,” Kurzweil notes that linear thinking will not solve this issue as Moore’s Law will run out in 2020, but exponential growth will work in the fourth dimension continuing progress. Moore’s Law decrees that reproduction will act in a doubling effect and spiral out of control. The Singularity holds that humans will not be needed, and the robotic force will exist without the fleshy human bodies taking up so much space. In efforts to slow down the process towards the Singularity becoming a current reality, Garreau presented the Heaven and Hell Scenarios.

The Heaven Scenario involves optimistic endeavors to adjust and enhance the human being using nanotechnology and genetics. In this scenario, the enhanced humans hold emotional value and pity for the natural humans, and gracefully skip into progress with their friendly robots in tow. Genetics currently comes in two kinds: somatic gene therapy and germ-line engineering. The former affects the genes that have gone bad in one person, but the latter is able to alter the genes that would be passed down through reproduction (Garreau 116). Ethical concerns worry for the future children who may not want gene alteration, and the added chromosomes may not sit well with the human composition. Ray Kurzweil sees greater love in the future and supports the Heaven Scenario. This greater love is a higher consciousness: humanity has a hold on survival and can now focus attention on participating, preserving, and enjoying life. Kurzweil refers to The Curve, or exponential growth, as a force of nature: “Like evolution, it is simply a pattern of life to be recognized, the outcome of billions of small actions. {Kurzweil} calls it ‘The Law of Accelerating Returns’” (Garreau 94). The deciding factor rests on the morality inside human nature to reach for the good.

As expected, the Hell Scenario is the pessimistic opposite of the Heaven Scenario. Here humanity is grotesquely mutilated by genetics gone awry and subjected to slavery by the dominant machines: “Probably more important is the ‘yuck-factor’ – the visceral rejection of technologies that are seen as anti-human. Headlines about human cloning produced one of the more vivid Hell Scenarios” (Garreau 171). Respected scientist Bill Joy is a member of this theory. In his TEDtalk, Joy notes his concern for the possibility of abusing nanotechnology. Joy is exceptionally concerned for self-reproducing nanobots or the ability of robotic machines to make more machines via the robotic will and not that of human will. Despite the depression Joy found himself in with studies of human extinction and the Singularity, he does see positives in three areas. Educational tools – such as computers and laptops – will lessen in cost while rising in speed and ability, environment issues find hope with nanomaterials which not only conduct but can also produce electricity, and human innovation in methods of defense through medicine to reduce a pandemic are all probable and possible (Joy). These possibilities can be reached, but Joy does not believe unlimited power with genetic alteration will benefit society. Regulations and rules are needed to govern genetics much like any other advancement. Joy calls for containment of information and demands some type of insurance for catastrophic risks.

Ancient minds reached for the gods, alchemists searched for the philosopher’s stone, and religion issued pilgrimages for the cup of Christ: the goal immortality. Scientists seized the torch and created reality for the imaginative mind through acknowledging the human genome in the twentieth century, and nanotechnology takes off from human abilities to act as an extension of species. The human ability to imagine allows for the acceptance of change to be a more comfortable reality. Fiction, as demonstrated with the twentieth century, pushed the boundaries of the human imagination: “Novels stretched our conceptions of human-created Heaven, kick-starting our thinking about what was possible, forcing us to change our perception of what was serious” (Garreau 109). Fiction familiarizes the imagined reality to become a probability. Science looked at fiction and saw a glimmer of reality to expand on through biological means – the alteration of genetic code.

Fixing what is broken is the initial concern of genetic alteration – cure the sick, repair structures, and implement immunities. In his piece “CRISPR – Technology and Controversy,” Dr. Shouguang Jin discusses the abilities of CRISPR to repair damaged DNA: “In theory, then, hereditary features that people consider advantageous, such as higher intelligence, better body appearance and longevity, can be introduced into an individual’s genome through CRISPR mediated reproductive cell modifications as well.” Regulations to alter the genome do not yet exist, but something is halting research. The transhumanistic desire to improve humanity is held back by ethical concerns. Why would society turn away from repairing one’s DNA? Overpopulation factors stiffen the reserve to resist progress.

Overpopulation is a major concern for the world as it is a current serious threat to the continuation of humanity. Modern scientists estimate that humanity may face extinction due to overpopulation because the world is not able to sustain more than nine billion people (Boundless). The World Population Clock keeps track of the number of people existing and states on average a new life is born every eight seconds while one life ends every thirteen seconds (Census). Overpopulation is a rational fear. Due to the technological and genetic advances of humankind, the threat of natural selection cursor to extinction appears to be a problem of the past – however, the causation for the longevity in continued lifespan could, in fact, be humanity’s downfall. Not only has the reproduction rate escaladed over the past two hundred years but the individual life expectancy rate has also doubled. Overpopulation is a natural issue as well as an ethical concern. As of June 12th of 2014 at 11:35 a.m., the total number of people alive on the earth was 7,249,376,950 billion (Census). Thomas Robert Malthus wrote “An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798)” in which he insisted that “… the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man” (39). Malthus means that the earth is not naturally able to produce enough food for the number of individuals alive to be properly nourished.

Hank from the SciShow discussed “The Science of Overpopulation” in an online video. While he supports that the Industrial Revolution cured Malthus’ ills, Hank feels that humanity did take the threat seriously; Malthus’ piece encouraged a lessened reproduction rate, with the rate dropping from 1.3 million to 1.1 million (SciShow). Genetic abilities to resist death will create a greater issue of continued reproduction with no lessening in numbers. Marvin Minsky suggests immortality is possible in his video “Health and the Human Mind.” Minsky jokes about nanotechnology reducing the size of human beings so less space is taken up, or a single child sharing forty-six parents in a time-share method to reduce population. In Minsky’s future, people would have the ability to be immortal, but they would be stored on hard drives, coming out only every few thousands years to live a thousand years and then being placed back in storage so as to permit others time to live (Minsky). Nature can only sustain a certain amount of people, but humanity has surpassed the abilities of evolution to genetically modify food, plant and animal alike.

Pamela Ronald argues that modern genetics are the most effective method in agriculture in her TEDtalk “The Case for Engineering our Food.” After a decade of experimentation and research, Ronald isolated a gene in rice to allow the rice to survive flooding. If alteration can be accepted by society, this improved rice would not perish during the heavy flood months, thus avoiding famine for the people who rely on rice as a main sustenance. Genetically improved seeds will grow larger and healthier plants, and genetic improvements also encourage eco-friendly actions (Ronald). Malthus’ concerns for the earth producing enough food for humanity to survive are thus adverted by scientific advancement through genetic modification. Many Americans are uncomfortable with genetically modified food, and a large influx of holistic and natural food products are present in the country.

Production of food is not the main concern in regards to starvation because the world is able to manufacture through industry and double through genetic modification. Pete Alcorn opposes the predictions of Malthus because he did not allot for the evolutionary characteristics of humankind. Malthus was not counting on the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century in which humankind now holds the ability to produce enough food (Alcorn). The proper distribution of food and resources could save world hunger if obesity were to subside. Ellen Gustafson, a philanthropist who co-founded FEED and created “The 30-Project”, notes that there are one billion people starving and one billion people obese. While obesity is a result of overeating and neglecting exercise, what types of food one consumes also has a large role. Corn, grain, and wheat make up the majority of the American diet – filler food with lackluster nutrients. The obese nations have plenty of products to eat, but they eat the incorrect types of food. Processed foods lead to diabetic health risks as well as obesity. As the processed food is imported to other nations the health risk percentage rise in a global effect: “Internationally, WHO projects that by 2015, approximately 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese” (Gustafson). Gustafson proposes a thirty-year plan to cultivate a revised successful food plan to be made available for the entire world population to benefit.

Feeding the whole world would allow for the poorest members of humanity to move up the ramp of civilization, but the process of progress can only be realized once basic needs of survival are met. Dr. Hans Rosling acknowledges the area of humanity in which large population is due to poverty status, and he illustrates the influence of educated thought and preconceived notions to extinguish the myth of overpopulation extinction in his video “The Overpopulation Myth”. The world population graph shows that with education families reduce the number of children per household to ensure a better quality of life. By educating the women of these countries about birth control and basic sexual processes, the women understand that their body belongs to them. The women of Bangladesh are learning a fundamental concept of the personal rights of the individual, and are becoming aware to the value of smaller family size. Though progress seems to move slowly, within fifty years family size has been reduced from eight children per couple to two children in Bangladesh, and Dr. Rosling accredits democracy for directing some of the changes. In a previous TEDtalk, “Global Population Growth, Box by Box,” Dr. Rosling demonstrated the problem with overpopulation as an economic concern. The poorest people want to be able to eat everyday while the richest people want to fly away for vacation throughout the year. If the richest cultures would assist the poorest cultures – through education and limited mutual aid – the poor could move up slowly, to advance to wanting a bicycle and eventually an automobile instead of just dreaming of owning a pair of shoes (Rosling “Global Growth”). The poorest peoples cannot be expected to assume the richest society; much like the spiral of consciousness, realities must be assumed slowly so as to ensure the value of human experience is implemented.

Until the population increase better improves, the concept of extending the human life span seems like a slippery slope. As means to prevent death and suffering, science and medicine battle to eliminate the struggle for life by thwarting evolution. Humanity has surpassed natural selection and is steaming ahead towards progress as a transhumanistic force. In her piece “We are All Cyborgs Now,” Amber Case notes that humanity cannot turn its nose up to genetic modification because human society is already dependent on unnatural enhancements. Computers and cellphones are external brains, according to Case, who points out that the majority of Americans depend upon their machines. From asking Siri how to spell a word to late night steamy text messages, human beings enjoy their cellphones – especially their smart phones so as to connect online. Unsure if machines are connecting humankind or conquering humanity disguised as assistants, Case finds interest in the ethical debate regarding the incorporation of robotic intelligence into daily life because she notes that robots have been in our lives for over twenty years. Computers are not the first machines that have been integrated into the modern home. Televisions are common in nearly every room of the American household.

Nick Bostrom is also concerned with artificial intelligence becoming “smart” like a human being. In his TEDtalk “What Happens When Our Computers Get Smarter Than We Are?” Bostrom wonders which values will be preserved: those of the machine or those of humankind. Robotic intelligence can process information faster than humans and can store unlimited amounts of data. Garreau mentioned “smart water” surrounding a super-bowl dome to act as a security device against terrorism (70). The “smart water” is able to detect the prescience of not only people but also something as small as a nanobot. In 2015 nearly every American has a “smart phone” which includes a basic robotic assistant. The fear for human nature is that the robotic creations will surpass their creator – and naturally assume a devious nature intent on enslaving the creator race. I disagree as I cannot understand my iPhone as malicious – that is a trait reserved for humanity. The issue with fear inside human nature is that intelligent human beings question everything and sort out what-if scenarios to ensure the best possible method is practiced. In doing so, humanity forgets that other beings do not function along the same path of inquisition because they have not received the same lessons of evolution. Robotic creatures are not wired the same way that human beings have evolved.

Human beings accept artificial intelligence in the form of replacement limbs or organs for afflicted individuals. In current times, an elderly person who underwent hip replacement surgery is viewed as a successful senior and not as a cyborg. Society accepts medical advancement as well as cosmetic surgery and enhancements. Currently, the cosmetic craze involves collagen filled lips and Brazilian Butt-Lifts. Aesthetic beauty is a force of culture, and transhumanism will permit the individual to look however they want – even if that includes growing fluorescent wings that display messages of one’s emotions like Lanier suggested by mutating the glowing octopi (Garreau). Once integral philosophy is better understood humanity will be able to make exceptions for the genetically enhanced. Uri Dowbenko wrote “Transhumanism: The Anti-Human ‘Singularity’ Agenda” for The website addresses the modern fears of transhumanism and shows concern for the human being in spiritual matters. The desire for an illusion of an all-powerful god will lessen as humanity becomes able to create and cure life, resulting in an advanced spirituality as replacement for religion – an evolution of spirit. Dowbenko fears the transhumanist will create a new god or become a god oneself. Until Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, science and religion could be seen as working together, but the biological means as replacement for creation separated the elements of thought. The documentary “TechnoCalyps” defines transhumanism as the advancement of humanity via artificial means; it began as a vision of religion but became a scientific path to fine-tune the human body for immortal qualities (Theys). Whether repairing the ill or preserving the well, transhumanism aims to lengthen the human lifespan, and in doing so will override natural evolution.

INLOGY Documentaries produced the piece “Bionics, Transhumanism and the End of Evolution” to show the possible factors implicated with genetic alteration. Bionic humans as well as transhumans are processes projected only for the elite few while the rest of humanity will act as the working class. This negative view of humanity displays the inherent fear of the unknown. The worst of humanity will behave as badly as they can with no regard to ethical awareness. Monster Quest aired the episode “Joseph Stalin’s Humanzee Experiments” to show the ugly side of genetics. In efforts to create a more savage army, in 1932, Stalin had chimpanzees impregnated with human embryos. The video interviews locals who insist that Zena was a result of the Humanzee experiments, and they note her to have produced a son named Quib who’s tooth later analyzed included human and chimp DNA (Monster Quest). Crossbreeding species is a terrifying and unethical consideration, but the advantages to Stalin’s army would have been notable. Ethics request caution because knowledge is a powerful tool – if that power is placed in the wrong hands then unimaginable horrors are possible.

The 1930s issued negative vibes for any form of eugenics or genetic alteration. The actions of Adolf Hitler’s unethical experimentation on the Jewish people fueled ethical concern. Edmund Ramsden’s article “Confronting the Stigma of Eugenics: Genetics, Demography and the Problems of Population” discusses the bad taste eugenics left in society’s mouth. By the 1960s the ideals of eugenics shown a stigma transformation resulted from “its ability to allow geneticists and demographers to conceive of eugenic improvement in ways that seemed consistent with the ideals of individuality, diversity and liberty” (Ramsden 853). Harnessing the values of democracy made eugenics less evil, however, the nature-nurture issues that were realized in the 1970s still keep eugenics in an undesirable closet – morality and ethical concern keep the door locked.

Humanity is not comfortable with experiments being practiced on animals or human embryos. In the SciShow episode “The Science Behind ‘Genetically Modified Humans,’” Hank discusses germ-line engineering. Science is able to alter the DNA of children to be immune to diseases through the use of the RNA and CRISPR technology by replacing mutated genes with preferable genes. Altering the human genome, however, is not ethically sound as the GME is noted as tricky and outcomes are not guaranteed (SciShow “Genetically Modified”). Ethics cannot tolerate human embryos to be subjected to experiments. Scientifically, working inside the embryo holds keys to the origin of species. In Darwin’s piece “The Descent of Man” the likenesses of embryotic form between human and dog is strikingly similar; Darwin said, “It may, however, be added, that the human embryo likewise resembles certain low forms when adult in various points of structure. … Even at a later embryonic period, some striking resemblances between man and the lower animals may be observed” (“The Descent of Man” 182). Over one hundred and fifty years has passed since Darwin related humankind to the animal kingdom, it is high time ethics understood the necessity for experimentation. For progress to continue, ethics must allow for experimentation either on human embryos or other embryos that closely resemble humankind. Paul Root Wolpe calls for regulations to be set for genetic practices in his video “It’s Time to Question Bio-engineering.” A compromise must be met so that science may progress with an ethical edge.

Transhumanism bothers not only ethics but also the ideals realized in the enlightenment. In “Introduction: Toward a Critique of Posthuman Futures,” Bart Simon said, “The revolutionary Enlightenment narratives that challenged an oppressive feudal order and re-envisioned ‘man’ as rational, autonomous, unique, and free have been in turn challenged and deconstructed” (4). Humanism demonstrates the abilities of humankind as purely natural human traits not dependent on outside sources. Posthumanism to Simon is seen as anti-humanism, reaching outside of humanity’s natural abilities to incorporate artificial intelligence as a lessening to the human structure. However, the intelligence created was crafted by humankind, and the idea was realized by humankind – artificial intelligence is an extension of the natural and not a means to replace the original. The success or failure in morality will be dependent on the inherent goodness of progress – goodness as a further perfection – as humanity continues to mimic the path of evolution. R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell man a website called “Criticisms of Transhumanism” to discuss the book Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and The Singularity. In attempts to shatter the objections to transhumanism, the fears are broken down into four groups: feasibility, direct danger, indirect danger, and morality (Sirius and Cornell). Significant numbers of people distrust the abilities of science and do not support transhumanistic efforts. However, if society would allow for integral philosophy, the transition would not be as upsetting.

The fear of scientific progress is unnerving for a large portion of human beings. Michael Specter urges society to embrace the discoveries and abilities of science in his TEDtalk “The Danger of Science Denial.” Science is credited for the advancement of medicine, but society screams for blame to be placed on science for the disturbing rise in autism. Specter notes that “frankenfood” bans discredit GMO enhanced food products, and vaccines are taking the heat for autism. However, he reminds society that vaccines keep disease away from humanity. Prior to medicine and vaccines the mortality rate was a great deal lower than current standards of life expectancy (Specter). Even two hundred years ago, if one lived to be fifty they were considered elderly. In contrast to modern society, a person is considered elderly when they no longer can care for themselves. The discoveries of science must be embraced to ensure further advancement.

The rising consciousness of integral concerns will calm humanity’s reserves for transhumanistic endeavors. Time is required for understanding, and humanity should look to the example set by evolution to allow for gradual acceptance. Human beings use of machines goes back to the wheel – the natural edge of humanity is innovation. Society must embrace the innovative intellect and not cowardly turn away from progress. The future of the human race is difficult to imagine, but with the direction of science, and caution of ethics, the race of humankind will create their own future, forging ahead by means that modern minds cannot fathom.

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