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Title: Enhancing humanity : co-creation and the moral imagination
Author: Lorrimar, Victoria
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 0916
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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The prospect of enhancing human characteristics through advancing technologies in genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology is generating interest in academic, commercial and popular spheres. This research focuses on anthropologies of co-creation as a potential theological response to the questions posed by human enhancement. For a theological anthropology to engage in public and cross-disciplinary debates surrounding enhancement concerns, it must first demonstrate scientific and technological literacy and the capacity to incorporate information from these fields. As the strong links between transhumanism and science fiction demonstrate the importance of the imagination for developing, communicating, and evaluating visions of future human being, a theology of co- creation that is able to engage these ideas must also feature a robust account of the imagination in epistemology and the dissemination of knowledge. Philip Hefner's "created co-creator" incorporates scientific insights into a theological anthropology that is generally positive toward the use of technology to enhance nature. Having inherited an overly rational epistemology from his predecessors in the science and religion field, however, Hefner's proposal reflects a deficit of imagination. J. R. R. Tolkien's notion of sub-creation is not as developed as Hefner's theological anthropology, being primarily a literary theory. Given the high value Tolkien accorded to the imagination and the role of narrative in discerning and conveying ultimate truths, however, his work may offer a corrective to Hefner's in this respect. Tolkien's critical stance to technology prevents a fruitful dialogue with human enhancement issues on the basis of his sub-creation proposal alone. A constructive theological anthropology that unites the strengths of Hefner's and Tolkien's models is sketched out, drawing on contemporary scholarship in metaphor studies, phenomenology and posthuman discourse, with a view to engaging debates surrounding human enhancement.
Supervisor: McGrath, Alister Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available