Argumentative Analysis of Trans and Post
In the essay “Trans and Post”, Damien Broderick argues in favor of accepting the convergence of technologies in the realms of biology, robotics, and programming that will allow the self-directed course of human evolution to some of those people who now inhabit the Earth. His argument primarily focuses on the premise of an emotional appeal to the reader indicated in his opening paragraph with the statement that “everyone has mixed feelings about the future, especially about the many powerful technologies changing our world and us as well”, thus identifying that the crux of his argument centers in the rhetorical device of pathos (Broderick 430).
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The emotional treatment of an idea that some futurists term “Convergence” belies the inherent bias, with which the author approaches his subject as he attempts to convince the reader of his credibility that mostly resonates along the same reactionary lines as the reader might prepossess. His argument serves to entrench the reader in their pre-existing ideas because the focus on pathos proves to be dismissive of valid concerns that the reader may identify with and reinforces transhumanist proponents with a snobby elitist attitude instead of finding common ground to reach mutual understanding. Though Broderick does touch upon some points, which operate as rhetorical devices in the mode of ethos and logos, the primary strategy derides his opposition on the basis of pathos and replaces it with a high-minded emotional appeal of itself.
Selecting passages from the writings of Francis Fukuyama and Bill McKibben, Broderick sets up the arguments of his philosophical opposition only to tear it down and reinsert his viewpoints as an appropriate emotional interpretation of the issue for the reader. He does not perform effectively to honor the concerns of his rivals, despite their edifying credentials holding position in the public discourse on the subject. At the basic level, the author comes across as somewhat morally bankrupt in his perception and resorts to playground tactics employing ten dollar words to disguise the childish undertone f the essay with such subtle emotional grumblings as “his small book is an argument, unfashionable in the antihumanist humanities but increasingly accepted in the life sciences, that certain species-typical characteristics are shared by all humans” (Broderick 231). These diminutive statements detract from Broderick’s argument as his goal is to assuage readers on the fence to come to his side despite the condition that his viewpoint is likely going to guide the future development of the human race as post humanism almost inevitably gives the elite hands in control.
Broderick acknowledges that “the most frightening apartheid one could imagine is a future world, in which extended life is allowed only to a few - the very wealthy, the political elite and their chosen followers…” despite pleading that it “is not the transhumanist objective”. The statement is proven by a logical fallacy when one ventures into the writings of Ray Kurzweil. “Humans who do not utilize such implants are unable to meaningfully participate in dialogues with those who do,” writes Kurzweil and on this basis, he alludes to a world where the elite cordons off resources and allows others to suffer. This hypothetical situation supported by Kurzweil as a possibility comes from none other than the man Broderick derides in his work without paying him his due - Ted Kaczynski (Kurzweil 234). Perhaps Broderick’s primacy in using pathos to convey his ideas is to distract the reader from logical considerations of the realities in the current world. Billionaires, such as Ted Turner, arguably guide the development of the human and transhuman condition and Broderick ignores public statements endorsing population control such as Mr. Turner’s advocacy to reduce the world
Broderick’s pathos-based reaction to Fukuyama is encapsulated in his expression of the opposite view that “the same yuck factor that allegedly deters decent folks from cloning ourselves propped up racist discrimination, homophobia, and prejudice against the disabled” (Broderick 431) without considering how cloning could affect the rights of the cloned organism as an undocumented biological entity in the world bounded by legal proceedings that establish rights. Without any treatment of whether these cloned people might face the same discrimination of the sort directed towards undocumented workers in the United States, Broderick evokes the same yuck factor in readers that would share the same prejudice regarding transhumanism.
Under the guise of what a logical argument might presuppose, further inspection reveals that the pathos rhetorical device is used once again to reaffirm his position after deriding Fukuyama for basing his stance in an emotional response to technological change presented once more with a blanket statement that “cloned humans will be human, even those who are posthuman” (Broderick 431). For all of his emotional appeals to endear the reader to his side, Broderick must tear down the opposite talking points based on their entrenchment in a purely emotional response to then fill the void. If there is no void to create and subsequently fill, this article becomes an additional noise in an echo chamber promoting a eugenics agenda, the self-direction of human evolution.
Describing it as an “eloquent but profoundly confused tract...” Broderick derides Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age by contending that McKibben states without feeling any need for supporting argument that “I advocate healthy life extension without our understanding how ‘weird or gross or boring’ living forever would be” (Broderick 434). Whereas McKibben calls for regulation and restriction from an emotional standpoint without qualifying why there is a need for it, Broderick uses the same rhetorical device in that very paragraph where he tears down his opposition by making his argument against the natural life cycle as abhorrent to one’s ‘gut feelings.’ In the end, both writers seem to not make any gestures towards understanding the other’s viewpoint and remain contented to sling mud at one another in a pseudo-intellectual pissing contest rife with name-calling and assumptive arguments.
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