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Sympozjum "Crisis of Humanity? Humanism, Transhumanism, Posthumanism" 11 V 2016

International Symposium Crisis of Humanity? Humanism, Transhumanism, Posthumanism, May 11 2016

Our contemporary times host many potential threats to humanity and mankind: drastic climate changes, environmental catastrophes, nuclear weapons, biotechnology, the rise of artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, global markets, the computerization of the lifeworld (Lebenswelt), etc. Many of these dangers have been conceptualized by the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom as “existential risks”, since they seem to cast a dark shadow on the entire future of humankind. At the same time social and philosophical studies indicate that  contemporary culture may have a negative effect on the development of personal identity  – especially among the young generation. Western culture seems to be overloaded with anti-humanistic, often misanthropic content; images in the media to a large extent violate the idea of human dignity. The “death of man” is no longer a philosophical hypothesis – it seems to have become a social fact and a pedagogical problem.

There exist, however, more optimistic or even utopian predictions of our nearest future. Exponents of the transhumanist movement claim that the responsible use of modern technology has the potential not only to overcome today’s existential risks that arose from technological progress, but may also lead to a new stage of human development: the post-human. The 'death of man' is not to be a tragic event, but rather a kind of self-salvation and self-liberation from many of life's great misfortunes, primarily death itself. Transhumanists also postulate the integration of technology into the process of education, which could bring about new levels and dimensions of understanding, creating and engineering the reality we live in.

So where are we? At the brink of extinction or at the threshold of a new, better era? Is our civilisation approaching it's ultimate collapse or is it about to surge upwards? While it would be naive to give explicit and unambiguous answers to that kind of questions, we should be conscious that we are without doubt living in transitional times of great gravity for mankind and humanity. Our contemporary lifeworld is undergoing rapid changes. Unfortunately the processes that shape the world progress too rapidly for us to grasp them and fully understand the reality we live in. It is therefore with great pleasure that we announce a series of academic conferences entitled 'A crisis of Humanity?'.

Our goal is to present the most fundamental issues of today’s mankind and humanity to an interdisciplinary academic audience and spark a discussion aimed at their analysis and interpretation. Since the questions posed concern all of us to the same extent, we are also interested in intellectual contribution from a wider audience. Our 1st  edition will be focused on the issue of humanism, transhumanism and posthumanism. Is mankind really coming to an end? If so – how should we approach this worrying prospect from this point onward? Is transhumanism a solution – or would it rather bring about the intensification of our existential problems? Who will the posthuman be: an amoral Übermensch or a higher developed species with greater ethical and aesthetic standards? How would the transition from man to “overman” play out as observed from the perspective of education and socialization? Should we not perceive the mentioned risks as existential challenges, which humanity should feel obliged to overcome? Is it possible that these existential risks could turn out to be the ultimate reason for us to learn to appreciate ourselves as human beings? All too human and only human after all?

Amongst other questions, the above will be introduced and discussed from philosophical and scientific perspectives.

The Organizing Committee:

Markus Lipowicz (Chairman)

Jakub Gomułka (Vice-Chairman)

Klaudia Węc

Ewa Sowa-Behtane

Krzysztof Maj

Jakub Palm