The following is from The Future of Human Nature by the philosopher Jürgen Habermas. The quote is taken from the second chapter, The Debate on the Ethical Self-Understanding of the Species, section VI: The moral limits of eugenics, p. 61.
With regard to the ethical freedom to lead a life of one's own while being subject to organic conditions not of our own choice, the situation of the programmed person does not initially differ from that of a person naturally begotten. Eugenic programming of desirable traits and dispositions, however, gives rise to moral misgivings as soon as it commits the person concerned to a specific life-project or, in any case, puts specific restrictions on his freedom to choose a life of his own.The publication date is 2003. It is not a work of history.
Habermas is emphasizing the irreversibility of genetic engineering, which is what he means here by programming. Note, however, that there are forms of cultural programming, which should give rise to similar moral misgivings -- as when a parent says (or thinks), "I'm raising my [son/daughter] to be..."
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While the latter sorts of social, religious and ideological programming are in theory reversible by the efforts of the individual affected, the psychological cost of this reversal may heavily outweigh any perceived benefit. I would point to the statistics on teen suicide as a valid index of such costs.
With the advent of genetic enginerring (a felicitous typo) eugenics is staging an inevitable comeback. But eugenic thinking has always confused the biological with the socially determined. The problem is not technology per se, but its use in the hands of people who combine pathological perfectionism with astoundingly naive or wholly unexamined notions of what it might mean to be "perfect."
Such agendas have invariably led to class-oriented racialist notions of who is "fit" to survive and who should be eliminated -- whether through programs of active euthanasia or passive neglect.
the unlikely story of how America slipped the surly bonds of earth & came to
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New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)
Saturday, January 14