An Aristotelian Resistance Against Transhumanism




transhumanism, aristotelianism, essentialism, bioenhancement


Posthuman Bliss? The Failed Promise of Transhumanism by Susan B. Levin presents a well-informed and structured critique to transhumanism. Not only transhumanist ethical and sociopo-litical applications are challenged: the theoretical assumptions and implications of transhumanism are made explicit and put into discussion, thereby confronting transhumanism as a worldview of its own, from metaphysics, to epistemology, to philosophy of mind, down to ethics and politics. This worldview is then constantly put to the test of Levin’s own Aristotelian essentialist framework, which sees the human being as a holistic whole and our role in the world as the complex process of attaining human flourishing. First, I will spend a few words to frame the general aim of the book and to delineate the main contents of the seven chapters. After that, I will deal critically with four interesting focal points, where further research may be prompted or the standpoint of the author may be challenged: the attribution of (rational) essentialism to transhumanism, the definition of well-being underlying transhumanist positions, the apparent tension between the sociopolitical im-plications of transhumanism and its cultivation of radical personal autonomy, the critical evaluation of Levin’s American-centered adaptation of her Aristotelian virtue-ethics approach.


Metrics Loading ...


(Allen 1986) Allen G.E. 1986. ‘The Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor, 1910– 1940: An Essay in Institutional History.’ Osiris 2(2): 225–64.

(Bostrom 2003) Bostrom N. 2003. ‘Human Genetic Enhancements: A Transhumanist Perspective.’ Journal of Value Inquiry: 37(4): 493– 506.

(Engels 1978) Engels F. 1978. ‘On Authority’. In Marx-Engels Reader, 2nd Edition. Edited by R. C. Tucker. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., pp.: 730-3.

(Ezrahi 1995) Ezrahi Y. 1995. ‘Haldane between Daedalus and Icarus.’ In Haldane’s ‘Daedalus’ Revisited. Edited by K. R. Dronamraiu. Ox-ford: Oxford University Press, pp. 64–78.

(Greene et al. 2004) Greene J.D. et al. 2004. ‘The Neural Bases of Cognitive Conflict and Control in Moral Judgment.’ Neuron 44(2): 389– 400.

(Griffiths 1997) Griffiths P.E. 1997. What Emotions Really Are: The Problem of Psychological Categories. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

(Haidt 2012) Haidt J. 2012. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. New York: Vintage Books.

(Harris 2010) Harris J. 2010. Enhancing Evolution: The Ethical Case for Making Better People. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

(Huxley 1936) Huxley J.S. 1936. ‘Eugenics and Society.’ Eugenics Review 28(1): 11– 31.

(Izard 2007) Izard C.E. 2007. ‘Basic Emotions, Natural Kinds, Emotion Schemas, and a New Paradigm.’ Perspectives on Psychological Sci-ence: 2(3): 260–80.

(Lenin 1999) Lenin V. 1999. The State and Revolution. The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution. In Collected Works. Lenin Internet Archives (, vol. 25, pp. 381-492.

(Marx 1975) Marx K. 1975. The German Ideology. In Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Collected Works. London: Lawrence & Wishart, vol. 5.

(Marx 1976) Marx K. 1976. The Poverty of Philosophy. In Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Collected Works. London: Lawrence & Wishart, vol. 6.

(Marx 1989) Marx K. 1989. Critique to the Gotha Program. In Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Collected Works. London: Lawrence & Wishart, vol. 24.

(McCulloch and Pitts 1943) McCulloch W.S. and Pitts W. 1943. ‘A Logical Calculus of the Ideas Immanent in Nervous Activity.’ Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics 5(4): 115–33.

(Muller 1984) Muller H.J. 1984. Out of the Night: A Biologist’s View of the Future. New York: Garland Publishing.

(Persson and Savulescu 2012) Persson I. and Savulescu J. 2012. Unfit for the Future: The Need for Moral Enhancement. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

(Savulescu 2013) Savulescu J. 2013. ‘Making Better Babies: Pro and Con.’ Monash Bioethics Review 31(1): 36– 59.

(Scherer 2009) Scherer K.R. 2009. ‘Emotions Are Emergent Processes: They Require a Dynamic Computational Architecture.’ Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences) 364(1535): 3459–74.

(Von Neumann 1951) Von Neumann J. 1951. ‘The General and Logical Theory of Automata.’ In Cerebral Mechanisms in Behavior: The Hixon Symposium. Edited by L.A. Jeffress. New York: John Wiley and Sons, pp. 1–31.

(Watson and Crick 1953) Watson J.D. and Crick F.H.C. 1953. ‘Genetical Implications of the Structure of Deoxyribonucleic Acid.’ Nature 171(4361): 964–67.

(Wiener 1961) Wiener N. 1961. Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, 2nd Ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.




How to Cite

Martinelli, E. (2022). An Aristotelian Resistance Against Transhumanism. Journal of Ethics and Emerging Technologies, 32(1), 1–6.