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Transhuman Epistemics


Futurists and philosophers have argued that humans may soon be expected to transcend their biology in dramatic ways. Biological evolution is expected to give way to technological enhancement of the human body, effectively upgrading human nature to Homo sapiens 2.0. Similarly, human intelligence is boosted by increasingly intelligent thinking aids, and natural intelligence will be outsmarted by machine intelligence of vastly superior kinds, or so it is claimed. One particularly striking prediction that is now attracting wide interest is that of the “technological singularity”: a point in human history (expected by 2045) where technological change will have become so rapid and profound that the fabric of culture is changed forever.
This seminar will explore the allegedly imminent transhuman future by discussing recent work of one of its best-known defenders, American inventor and publicist Ray Kurzweil. Particular attention is given to the question how technological change may be expected to affect the nature of knowledge, reasoning, and thinking. To put the transhumanist’s claims in perspective, we will try to connect Kurzweil’s ideas to some themes in mainstream philosophy of mind, epistemology, and philosophy of science. For this purpose we will discuss Paul Churchland’s suggestion that scientific progress is essentially a matter of ‘uploading’ new theories to the brain, and Andy Clark’s idea that human beings are ‘natural-born cyborgs’.




Oral presentations; participation in discussion; final paper.
Students are required to attend all the lectures/sessions.


*Paul Churchland, Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1979. *Andy Clark, Natural-Born Cyborgs. Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2003. *Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near. When Humans Transcend Biology. New York: Viking Press, 2005.


Advanced knowledge of philosophy (BA level).


see Timetable MA in Philosophy 2007-2008


Please register for this course via U-twist. See registration procedure


dr. J.J.M. Sleutels (



Specialisation: Theoretical Philosophy

Language of instruction is English or Dutch, depending on students’ proficiency in these languages