Technological progress seems to open ways for redesigning the human organism. This means that the affective system that is built into the brain by evolution can be redesigned with intent. One of the consequences will be that the word progress will get a new meaning. Progress won't be confined to enhancing the conditions of living, but it will change the way we react to the world. These possibilities are explored in a new kind of biological utopism called 'transhumanism'. This school foresees that a restructured human brain will give rise to 'more varied experience, lifelong happiness and exhilarating peak experiences everyday'. This essay considers the reality value of that expectation in the light of the current psychology of affects, in particular of presumed functions of hedonic experience. It is concluded that transhumanism overlooks that happiness will lose its meaning if it is treated as an isolated feeling. The affective system in our brain needs strong ties with the on-going interaction of the individual with its environment. Making people happier without enhancing the grip on their life will be contra-productive.

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Journal of Happiness Studies
Department of Sociology

Bergsma, A. (2000). Transhumanism and the Wisdom of Old Genes is Neurotechnology as Source of Future Happiness?. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1(3), 401–417. doi:10.1023/A:1010016532529