A Buddhist Perspective on Human Enhancement and Extension of Human Lifespan

Soraj Hongladarom


Buddhism has nothing in principle against either human enhancement or lifespan extending technologies. Everything depends on motivation. In the case of human enhancement technologies in general, the argument that enhancing humans is unethical because it commits an unnatural act is found wanting because it relies on the untenable premise that the natural and the ethical are identical. However, Somparn Promta’s argument to the effect that in Buddhism there is no unnatural act is criticized because the argument conflates two different senses of “natural”, one being natural law and the other presupposed in the premise that the ethical and the natural are identical. Then the paper moves on to discuss the central idea in Buddhism concerning the emptiness
of all things. Since there can be no essence or core of identity of anything, person or non-person, any argument based on there being a subsisting person whose body is to be enhanced or whose life is to be extended is based on an untenable premise. Finally the paper discusses Steven Horrobin’s recent attempt to base the value of the extended lifespan on the ability to enjoy more pleasures. This is also found wanting because the extended life will contain not only pleasures but also pain and boredom. Moreover, the value of life, either extended or not, lies more on how well it is lived rather than how much pleasures the subject can consume.

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ISSN (Print): 1513-6442
ISSN (Online): 2586-9876

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