Becoming Posthuman

Topics: World Anti-Doping Agency, Human, Transhumanism Pages: 11 (3957 words) Published: May 11, 2006
Becoming Posthuman – Sport and Genetically Modified Athletes

Becoming posthuman, there are many theories and explanations to explain this term, some of these include: posthumanism is a hypothetical future generation of beings whose basic capacities so radically exceed those of present humans as to be no longer human by our current standards. Another definition of the term posthuman is that it is a person of unprecedented physical, intellectual and psychological capacity, self-programming, self constituting and possibly immortal. It has even been suggested that posthumaness is a rejection of what makes us human, rejection in that we are not happy to be simply human anymore. My own understanding of posthuman derives from the first definition of posthuman, that it suggests an advancement and progression past that, of what seems capable of the human being.

Posthumanism can be used with reference to a wide range of discourses, including medicine, art, intelligence and even death. In medicine, issues concern cloning and transplants and in intelligence it is the fantastical idea of artificial intelligence. However in sport one of the main issues concerning posthumanism appears to be genetically modified athletes. A genetically enhanced athlete capable of performing on a higher level than humanly capable just now, with what I would consider many advantages such as higher endurance levels and perhaps even greater adapted body physique for their chosen sport to name but a few.

There have been many arguments suggesting that athletes are already posthuman – their diet, their routines, their lifestyle, their pain, their drive and determination. Andy Miah (2003), suggests that athlete's and indeed sport is already posthuman. In this article it is suggested that athlete's have already developed into "super-humans", athlete's are continually looking for ways to enhance their performances through the use of different technologies, be it merely a new pair of running shoes or by the use of altitude chambers, Miah suggests that the use of such technologies suggests the movement of athlete's towards the ideals of transhumanism and that the determination of the athlete to surpass all that already exists makes them and the world of sport posthuman. However, I will argue in this essay that athlete's are not posthuman as they are not capable of anymore than the next person, anyone can do near enough anything with the right quantity of work and determination.

In what ways have specific authors argued that athletes are posthuman? It has been suggested that by using altitude chambers, athletes use these in order to acclimatise their bodies to differing heights and altitudes above sea-level, athletes are on their way to becoming posthuman. This does not make an athlete posthuman. After all an athlete could go and train on a mountain thus gaining the same effects. If you consider the Olympic games where many athletes from many different countries compete against each other, would competitors from certain countries hold an advantage over other competitors from different countries based on the climate of that country? An example of this, although not factual and not based on the Olympics, is within the film "Rocky 4", throughout the film we see Drago (Dolph Lundgren) being trained by a team of coaches with state of the art sport technology and constant injections intended to boost his potential all of which is done indoors. Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) on the other hand trains outdoors against the cold winter weather as naturally as possible using the land and daily chores to enhance his fitness and capabilities. By the end of the film the natural athlete overcomes the drug enhanced athlete. Although this is a fictional story, it appears to suggest that there is no place for the posthuman athlete and that to become a posthuman athlete is in someway immoral. It also suggests that in order to evolve and become the best in one's sport a person is...
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