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A Companion to GenethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Cooperative SpeciesA Mind So RareA Natural History of RapeAcquiring GenomesAdapting MindsAgeing, Health and CareAlas, Poor DarwinAn Introduction to Evolutionary EthicsAncient Bodies, Modern LivesAnimal ArchitectsAping MankindAre We Hardwired?Bang!BehavingBeyond EvolutionBeyond GeneticsBlood MattersBody BazaarBoneBrain Evolution and CognitionBrain StormBrave New BrainBrave New WorldsChoosing ChildrenCloneCloningConceptual Issues in Evolutionary BiologyConsciousness EvolvingContemporary Debates in Philosophy of BiologyControlling Our DestiniesCooperation and Its EvolutionCreatures of AccidentDarwin Loves YouDarwin's Brave New WorldDarwin's Gift to Science and ReligionDarwin's UniverseDarwin's WormsDarwinian ConservatismDarwinian PsychiatryDarwinism and its DiscontentsDarwinism as ReligionDebating DesignDecoding DarknessDefenders of the TruthDo We Still Need Doctors?Doubting Darwin?Early WarningEngineering the Human GermlineEnhancing EvolutionEnoughEntwined LivesEthical Issues in Human CloningEthical Issues in the New GeneticsEvil GenesEvolutionEvolutionEvolution and Human BehaviorEvolution and Human BehaviorEvolution and Human Sexual BehaviorEvolution and LearningEvolution and ReligionEvolution and the Human MindEvolution in MindEvolution, Gender, and RapeEvolution: The Modern SynthesisEvolutionary Ethics and Contemporary BiologyEvolutionary Origins of MoralityEvolutionary PsychiatryEvolutionary PsychologyEvolutionary Psychology and ViolenceEvolutionary Psychology as Maladapted PsychologyExploding the Gene MythFaces of Huntington'sFlesh of My FleshFrom Chance to ChoiceFrom Darwin to HitlerGenesGenes in ConflictGenes on the CouchGenes, Environment, and PsychopathologyGenes, Environment, and PsychopathologyGenes, Women, EqualityGenetic Nature/CultureGenetic PoliticsGenetic ProspectsGenetic ProspectsGenetic SecretsGenetics in the MadhouseGenetics of Criminal and Antisocial BehaviourGenetics of Mental DisordersGenetics of Original SinGenetics of Original SinGenomeGenomeGenome: Updated EditionGenomes and What to Make of ThemGlowing GenesHow Women Got Their Curves and Other Just-So StoriesHuman CloningHuman Evolution, Reproduction, and MoralityImproving Nature?In Our Own ImageIn Pursuit of the GeneIn the Name of GodIngenious GenesInheritanceInside the Human GenomeInside the O'BriensIntegrating Evolution and DevelopmentIntelligence, Race, and GeneticsIs Human Nature Obsolete?Language OriginsLess Than HumanLiberal EugenicsLiving with Our GenesMaking Genes, Making WavesMaking Sense of EvolutionMan As The PrayerMean GenesMenMood GenesMoral OriginsMothers and OthersNature Via NurtureNever Let Me GoNot By Genes AloneOf Flies, Mice, and MenOn the Origin of StoriesOrigin of MindOrigins of Human NatureOrigins of PsychopathologyOur Posthuman FuturePhilosophy of BiologyPlaying God?Playing God?Portraits of Huntington'sPrimates and PhilosophersPromiscuityPsychiatric Genetics and GenomicsPsychologyQuality of Life and Human DifferenceRe-creating MedicineRedesigning HumansResearch Advances in Genetics and GenomicsResponsible GeneticsResponsible GeneticsScience, Seeds and CyborgsSex and WarSociological Perspectives on the New GeneticsStrange BedfellowsStrange BehaviorSubjects of the WorldSubordination and DefeatThe Age of EmpathyThe Agile GeneThe Ape and the Sushi MasterThe Biotech CenturyThe Blank SlateThe Book of LifeThe Boy Who Loved Too MuchThe Bridge to HumanityThe Case Against PerfectionThe Case for PerfectionThe Case of the Female OrgasmThe Century of the GeneThe Common ThreadThe Concept of the Gene in Development and EvolutionThe Debated MindThe Double-Edged HelixThe Epidemiology of SchizophreniaThe Ethics of Choosing ChildrenThe Ethics of Human CloningThe Evolution of CooperationThe Evolution of MindThe Evolution of MindThe Evolved ApprenticeThe Evolving WorldThe Extended Selfish GeneThe Fact of EvolutionThe Folly of FoolsThe Future of Human NatureThe God GeneThe Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Impact of the GeneThe Innate MindThe Innate MindThe Innate Mind: Volume 3The Limits and Lies of Human Genetic ResearchThe Lives of the BrainThe Maladapted MindThe Meme MachineThe Misunderstood GeneThe Moral, Social, and Commercial Imperatives of Genetic Testing and ScreeningThe Most Dangerous AnimalThe New Genetic MedicineThe Nurture AssumptionThe Origin and Evolution of CulturesThe Origins of FairnessThe Paradoxical PrimateThe Perfect BabyThe Robot's RebellionThe Selfish GeneThe Shape of ThoughtThe Shattered SelfThe Stem Cell ControversyThe Story WithinThe Stuff of LifeThe Talking ApeThe Temperamental ThreadThe Terrible GiftThe Theory of OptionsThe Top 10 Myths About EvolutionThe Triple HelixThe Triumph of SociobiologyThe Woman Who Walked into the SeaTwinsUnderstanding CloningUnderstanding the GenomeUnnatural SelectionUnto OthersUp From DragonsVoracious Science and Vulnerable AnimalsWar Against the WeakWhat Genes Can't DoWhat It Means to Be 98 Percent ChimpanzeeWho Owns YouWhose View of Life?Why Evolution Is TrueWhy Think? WondergenesWrestling with Behavioral GeneticsYour Genetic Destiny
In this book Brian Appleyard faces squarely the idea that it may be possible for humans to be no longer human in the genetic future. That is, it may become possible to engineer ourselves so that we retain little of the humanity we have today. If ever I have been tempted to behave like an ostrich it is in not facing the overwhelming philosophical and biological ramifications of the genetic revolution happening around us.
We are in the process of taking control of life. Some aspects of this process will appear to be no different from previous scientific and technological developments. Other aspects, however, will be profoundly different. We will produce new species, diagnose illness long before it happens, "know" human beings at the biochemical level, manipulate our reproductive processes, and change ourselves.
Such developments are like nothing that has gone before. The represent a fundamental redefinition of human capability.(p.24-25)
This book is a meticulous examination of the real (not the scientific) meaning of this process.
Painstakingly and with great clarity it details the roots of biological determinism, the history of eugenics and its present day thinking, the consequences of the Age of Reason, and the triumphal march of science to a belief that we are but the sum of our genes and that the manipulation of them can only be for the betterment of mankind. Entwined in this thinking are the theories of evolutionary psychology, of psychobiology, of gene therapy and these are eruditely explained.
It is to the authors credit that he does not let his reader get lost in a confusion of conflicting viewpoints. The ideas of Kants enlightened man of every individual as an end in himself are presented with as much clarity as those of eugenics which threatens to overturn the moral basis of such thinking. The beliefs of the creationists are juxtaposed to the evolutionists. The book itself is structured around polarized views of reality the metaphysical versus science, free will versus determinism, spirituality versus genocentrism, knowledge from the world of the arts versus that from the science.
Appleyard also notes the overwhelming power scientific thinking has today. To refer to knowledge as "scientific" is to give it an aura of truth. The pronouncements of geneticists are accepted as infallible. There is great difficulty in querying anything put forward as good by science as it seems to emanate from a vast black box (p. 3) whose contents we cannot possibly understand. And now we are being told that the manipulation of our very core is in our best interests.
Passionately argued in the final chapter is the thesis that we cannot accept the thinking of any single group of people, no matter how seductive. We must contemplate it with a rigorous doubt. Neither can we assume that we have learnt the lessons of history when there is absolutely no evidence that the human race ever has. The idea that the manipulation of genes will in the end produce a god falls down because we only have a human template. And if we insist on reducing everyone to "normal" it is very likely we will engineer out of humanity our Michael Angelos, Albert Einsteins, Winston Churchills and Sylvia Plaths. Who is to decide that a gene is all bad? Appleyard mentions a friend with an appalling genetic disease whom he admires and dearly loves. Where do the virtues of courage and fortitude weigh on the genetic scales? Pascal writes of A Prayer to Ask God for the Right Use of Sickness but there is no room for the human response of cheerful endurance, or the capacity to transform the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The assumption that all such misfortune is to be avoided forgets that misfortune embedded in the sublime and to seek a resolution is the human condition.
I am consoled, though perhaps not finally convinced, by that supremely religious belief, that every honest searcher will, in time, be a finder.
Thus this book ends. It has pulled no punches about the stark reality of the genetic revolution we are faced with. It does not comfort itself with quasi-religion, ideas of easy social intervention or of any easy solutions at all. But in its very setting down of the history and philosophy and science of this gigantic change it instills a hope that mankind will contemplate such a restructuring of its reality long enough to act with wisdom.
Fran Gillespie writes about herself:
I am a mental health consumer of forty years standing. My family is steeped in this experience as we have traced it through four generations I therefore have also a personal understanding of caring in this difficult area. In the last five years I have moved from hiding under the blankets to giving evidence to an enquiry into the human rights of the mentally ill in Australia to spearheading an understanding of the mental health consumer as a resource in our community in Hobart, Tasmania. With the support of likeminded people a system of paid consumer consultants arose from this activism. I am at present on leave from studying for a research Masters in Medicine that centres on an analysis of the development of mental health consumerism in Tasmania. I believe that it is necessary to set aside anger generated from personal experience in this area in order to achieve lasting solutions. Thus I also work as a consumer advocate.