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Superheroes and Transhumanism: who wants to be human?


chhay18 #### Introduction #### I grew up reading and watching superhero comic books and cartoons. It made me fantasize about having superhuman powers, and until this day I am thinking: > Wouldn't it be cool to have the self-healing power of **Wolverine**, the strength of **the Hulk**, the agility of **Spider-Man**, the mind-controlling power of **Prof. Xavier**, and the technology of **Iron Man**? In X-Men: The Last Stand, a cure against mutantism is found that would suppress the "X-gene" and turn mutants into ordinary humans. In a world where mutants are persecuted, mutants are facing the question whether they should take it. Storm reacts by asking: > Who would want this cure? I mean, what kind of coward would take it just to fit in? Rogue, who can tap into the abilities of other people by touching them and sapping them out of their life energy prepares to visit the clinic. I believe that Storm's question is worth exploring from a philosophical perspective. In this post, I would therefore like to discuss the philosophical question of what is normal and whether we should transcend it in order to become fantastic and extraordinary. #### Where do superheroes get their powers from? #### Firstly, however, I would like to mention that not all superheroes have achieved their extraordinary abilities from the "X-gene". There are a variety of factors that give superhuman powers to superheroes. Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, Bruce Banner was exposed to Gamma radiation, and the Fantastic 4 got their powers from a space mission in which they were exposed to Cosmic rays. - *The Hulk and Bruce Banner* #### The paradox of normality #### On the one hand, we are all social beings who have a strong desire to fit into a group. On the other hand, we also have a desire to stand out - to distinguish ourselves from others, but also from our distant past. We do so because we want to develop ourselves or because we simply don't want to be ignored by others. Choosing the ordinary is a safe bet, whereas being extraordinary is risky. When you are noticed, there is a higher chance that you will be judged, and judgements can be awfully painful. #### Fitting in #### People with extraordinary powers like superheroes are not equally "abnormal". When Storm asks why anyone would want to take the cure, Hank McCoy (Beast) from the X-Men, responds, > Is it cowardice to save oneself from persecution? Not all of us can fit in so easily. - *Storm from the X-Men series* Some superheroes like Storm, Spider-Man, and Captain America can go through life looking ordinary. From the outside, they fit in easily within society. There are, however, superheroes like Beast, the Hulk, and the Thing who clearly look abnormal and therefore have a harder time fitting in. Although they distinguish themselves from ordinary humans, most have human or human-like personalities that are housed in bodies with extraordinary qualities. It's not surprising then that they also have the desire to fit in, but also the desire to stand out. #### Should we transcend our normality? #### There are a variety of possibilities to respond to normality. Some abnormalities are beneficial like the ability of quick healing (Wolverine), some are detrimental like the deviating look of the Thing, and some are detectable like sight or smell (Nightcrawler). - *The Thing from the Fantastic 4 series* According to Magneto in X-Men United, mutants are "homo superior" and "gods among insects". Why should they not transcend normality? It seems that we are trying to comfort ourselves with respect to our normal lives, but at the same time we have a desire to escape ourselves. Is it wrong to push ourselves outside the limits of what is human? - *Magneto from the X-Men series* #### The idea of transhumanism and post-humanism #### Transhumanists are people who believe that we should develop and utilize technology for the enhancement of our human abilities. They want us to transcend human boundaries, and maybe even to the extent that we cannot rightfully call us human anymore, but post-human. Post-humans are beings > whose basic capacities so radically exceed those of present humans as to be no longer unambiguously human by our current standards. They focus not jus on the enhancement of human beings, but also on the modification of the human species as a whole through genetic engineering, and bioengineering. - *Ghost in the Shell (2017) explores the concept of post-humanism* ##### As technology evolves, I believe that we will eventually run deeper into the philosophical question of what it means to be human, and what ethical limitations we should put unto ourselves. ##### ##### Regarding the main question of this post, I would like to ask you again: would you want to transcend humanity? #####
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