About the book

“A very philosophical and imaginative discussion about what humanity is and what it could be.
Any readers who take an interest in the very far future will find it a worthwhile read.”
—The Futurist Magazine

In Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential, a prominent economist declares that the “posthuman era has arrived”—and reframes the transhumanism debate with an original ethical vision. Formerly the chief economist of General Motors, Ted Chu displays enormous erudition in this expansive study of the trajectory of human and cosmic evolution. Chu celebrates the prospect of new forms of cosmic life that, he shows, will be the ultimate expression of humanity’s evolutionary purpose. Here are key tenets of Chu’s book. Here is a three-part video presentation with slides at Ted’s book launch event.

 HPTP Cover

“The Posthuman Era Is Here”

“Today we stand at a new frontier. We have within our sight—if not yet within our reach—a radically new human freedom. It is the freedom from our inborn genetic condition—the liberation from the constraints of our biological form. . . The human era as we have known it is coming to an end. The posthuman era is about to begin.”

So writes Ted Chu, PhD, in this magisterial treatment of the increasingly timely debate about transhumanism and the meaning and purpose of human evolution. A prominent macroeconomist and polymath, Chu offers the most systematic effort yet to explore the scientific, historical, ethical, and philosophical dimensions of this worldwide discussion, thus reframing a field too often disfigured by scientific reductionism.

Chu immediately establishes an interdisciplinary and evolutionary stance. He then examines the ongoing transhumanist project from a rich variety of perspectives. He goes on to articulate a goal for humanity in the face of technological breakthroughs that beckon us toward previously unimagined potentials for progress—that is, if we can find the courage to consciously manage our own evolution. A new understanding of transhumanism emerges as he explores the depths of the world’s wisdom traditions and surveys the most cutting-edge evolutionary theories and scientific advances.

While admitting that the pursuit of human happiness is appropriate and noble, Chu demonstrates why our ultimate purpose—our “new divine covenant”—is to serve the forward march of cosmic evolution through the transcendence of our own biology, thus making way for our evolutionary successors in the posthuman future.


“Clearly written and accessible to the lay reader,
this work adds a uniquely global perspective to futurist literature.”

—James Hughes, PhD, Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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Table of Contents

Foreword by John Haught, PhD, professor emeritus of theology, Georgetown University
Prologue
Author’s Preface

Part One: SETTING THE STAGE

Chapter One
The Search for a New Human Purpose    3

Chapter Two
Evolution: The Best Idea Ever   13

Chapter Three
Imagining a Posthuman Future   27

3.1. What the Posthuman Future Is—and Is Not
3.2. The Second Phase of Conscious Evolution
3.3. Confidence in Our Mission and Our Future

Part Two: WISDOM, COSMIC VISION, AND HUMAN POTENTIAL

Chapter Four
Human Wisdom   42

4.1. The Axial Age
4.2. Twin Pillars of Western Civilization
4.3. Eastern Wisdom: The Yin-Yang Reality
4.4. Reflections on the Axial Age and Human Wisdom

Chapter Five
The Cosmic View   85

5.1. The Enlightenment and the Evolutionary View of the Universe
5.2. From the Big Bang to Conscious Mind: The New Paradigm of Cosmic History
5.3. Seven Cosmic Patterns
5.4. Reflections on Truth and the Cosmic Future
5.5. Going Back: The Tao as the Mind of God

Chapter Six
Human Potential   115

6.1. Human Uniqueness
6.2. Unique Human Attributes
6.3. The Cosmic View: Funnel or Hourglass?
6.4. Human Significance: A View from the Future
6.5. Human Aspirations and Cosmic Potential

Part Three: HUMAN NATURE AND ITS LIMITATIONS

Chapter Seven
All Too Human  137

7.1. The Limits of Human Nature
7.2. The Limits of Science
7.3. The Limits of Culture and the Problem of Evil
7.4. What Drives People
7.5. The Human Is a Machine—or Is It?

Chapter Eight
A Theory of Perspectives     173

8.1. Two Eyes
8.2. The Psychological/Neurological Basis of Perspectives
8.3. Stages of Developing Personal Perspective
8.4. Patterns of Perspectives in Society
8.5. Heavy Lifting with Higher Perspectives
8.6. Happiness Cannot Be the Ultimate Goal
8.7. The Greatest Divide and a Leap of Faith

Part Four: CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION: ITS POWER AND IMPLICATIONS

Chapter Nine
Conscious Evolution    227

9.1. What Is Conscious Evolution?
9.2. Extreme Nature-Worship
9.3. Conscious Evolution Is a Wide-Open Game
9.4. A Greenhouse for Conscious Evolution
9.5. Get Ready for Failures, and Lots of Them

Chapter Ten
Risks and Fears    267

10.1. What Fear Is For
10.2. Overcoming the Fear Bias against Conscious Evolution
10.3. Addressing Frequently Voiced Fears

Chapter Eleven
The Moral Argument    309

11.1. “Is This Moral?”
11.2. A Realistic View of Human Morality
11.3. Moral Guidance: Religion, Science, Humanism—or a Transcendental Perspective?
11.4. The Pragmatic Nature of Transcendental Morality
11.5. Human Dignity: The Pseudo-Spiritual Argument

Part Five: THE COSMIC FUTURE

Chapter Twelve
The Cosmic Being    351

12.1. What Science and History Tell Us about the Future
12.2. Social and Technical Challenges
12.3. CoBe: The Cosmic Being
12.4. New Political Concepts and Relationships
12.5. The Second Axial Age

Chapter Thirteen
Reflection and Expectation     385

13.1. A New Perspective on Humanity
13.2. Do Not Settle for Too Little
13.3. Leaders, Pioneers, and Favorable Environments
13.4. “What can I do? What’s in it for me?”

Notes
Bibliography
Index