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Designer Evolution: A Transhumanist Manifesto
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I find it very difficult to stop reading any book I've started, but in this case it wasn't much of a problem. I sympathize with Young's view, I really do, however I found this book quite laborious.

I was very frustrated by Young's inventing a word every few paragraphs for concepts that already are well represented by the english language.

I found his chapter on psychology extremely fallacious. Unless I'm mistaken I believe he
was trying to argue the point that all psychological problems are simply a lack/excess of
a small subset of specific chemicals. To me that would be like trying to change the
political theme of a TV show by adjusting its color balance.

I also found he was contradicting himself throughout the book.
He would argue that humans are biologically deterministic entities driven by a chemically driven brain when addressing those who believe in a soul, yet at the same time describes humans as free agents that have some magical will outside their biologically based memes.

I made it through 30% of this book, until I couldn't read much more.
Perhaps Young should take this original book, condense it to 50% of its length,
and rework many of the bad arguments.

Until then, I feel these glowing reviews were quite misleading.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I may not be able to offer you the secrets to immortality, but I can at least keep you from wasting several hours of your life (and $10) by summing this book up in a single sentence: TRANSHUMANISM IS GOOD, EMBRACE IT! Really, that's it. This idea is repeated ad nauseam. Other than the mind-numbing repetition of this one simple idea, the book is only good for learning a new list of jargon that the author seems to be promoting for his own sake, as many of his neologisms already exist in a different form. Yes, he takes words that already exist in popular use and ignores them, creating his own new terminology. I'm not sure if he's doing this in order to make a name for himself by coining new terms or if he's just so poorly educated in science and technology (e.g. biology, cybernetics, artificial intelligence, and the cognitive sciences) that he just plows through by making up new words.

By the way, with nearly all books that have a scanty number of reviews, you can bet all the hyped up, 5-star reviews were written by acquaintances. Just skim through some of them (it won't take long as they are all rather brief, one or two of them only offering a single sentence) and you'll see that the overall rating for this "book" is wholly unmerited.
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26 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
God, this book was a chore. Here I was hoping for at least a moderately well-reasoned treatment on such things as the morality of genetic enhancement or futuristic aesthetics and instead I got 300+ pages of rambling, poorly reasoned ideas based on a flawed understanding of some rather basic scientific principles. At several points Young puts forth ideas that sound intriguing and seem, for purely visceral reasons, to be desirable, but when his "reasoning" is considered it makes no sense. He contradicts himself wildly, obviously doesn't understand the theory of evolution, intentionally misquotes people to support his ideas, uses annoyingly repetitive sound-bites and catch-phrases in lieu of reasoned arguments, and commits that most egregious of all scientific errors of selecting only confirming evidence and ignoring all disconfirming evidence while trying to make his points. Basically, Young reads like someone who took a few philosophy courses in undergrad, then read a whole bunch of pop-science books and now considers himself to be some kind of highly cerebral autodidact on the cutting-edge of everything, yet succeeds only in sounding like an adolescent neo-Randian lobbying for the development of biotech that will give all of us KEWL POWRZ 'cause that would be AWESOME. The one thing that I may end up taking from this is further reading matterial: Young lists several sources as inspiration, sources he may have wildly misunderstood (if his "understanding" of things like evolution is any indication), so I can at least do some back-tracking through his sources and see if any of them are more logical than he was.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
As a note to future readers, this book does not cover any science or the technologies associated with transhumanism. It is a very broad over view of transhumanism as a complete philosophy to life (at least from the authors perspective). It covers everything from metaphysics to politics to ethics to religion and more. Young also criticizes well over a dozen other philosophies and presents in a clear and concise manner their faults and why transhumanism is better suited. One of the main themes behind Young's book is the Will to Evolve, which goes beyond the notions of natural evolution and into designer evolution. Further more this book presents the idea of agnoskepticism, a combination of agnosticism and healthy skepticism. This is the first I've heard of this idea and became quite hooked to it for it does away with both theism and atheism.

Overall the book is laid out in a way so you can literally open up to any page and start reading. Chapters are organized as a combination of essays which make this book a very easy read. Most, including myself, will not agree with everything in this book. However it is certainly a fascinating and addictive read for anyone interested on gaining more insight on the philosophical aspects of transhumanism.
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17 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Debates about genetic engineering often revolve around what makes human beings 'human' or 'transhuman', and DESIGNER EVOLUTION: A TRANSHUMANIST MANIFESTO is bound to be at the heart of future debates, with its focus on the emerging new philosophy of Transhumanist doctrine, which supports the attempt to change the human body to eliminate disease, death, and even expand the mind beyond current boundaries. Young calls for a rejection of superstition in favor of a renewed faith in human progress through rational scientific progress.

Diane C. Donovan, Editor

California Bookwatch
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
It's hard to convey into words the sheer joy and sense of inspiration I felt while reading this book.
I have been following the transhumanist cultural movement for a while now, but only after
reading Simon Young's Manifesto my vague sense of belonging turned to a full-blown
desire to play an active role in spreading this new metameme (in the author's words).
Despite my catholic upbringing, I rejected religion quite early and started my personal battle
against bigotry and what I consider to be a multi-faceted constriction of the human spirit (by monotheistic religions), which is defined by the desire to continually strive for something more, to improve the human condition through achievement and discovery,
and I always felt a certain degree of suspicion for those who try to force into us an acceptance of suffering and death as incontrovertible facts of humanity. All philosophical systems ascribe to the attempt of making this condition more bearable.
We are at the dawn of human's defeat of our biological limitations, and we need a new philosophical and moral framework
to accelerate this process, and thus the happiness and well-being of all humanity.
I've felt for a long time that atheism is the first step in freeing us (fellow atheists) from the chains of
superstition, but we need a system of values and beliefs, completely devoid of dogmas and wishful/magical thinking
but capable of providing a sense of purpose, hope and direction. A system of beliefs - and by that I mean core values developed through the harmonious use of positive emotions directed by the rational mind - that places faith in ourselves, humans, and
our role in the universe as a conscious manifestation of evolution which must take the reins of the process itself:
designer evolution.
Is all the Truth in this book? No, like all other products of the human mind it can be improved (especially in the quick dismission by the author of some eastern philosophical systems which, in my opinion, deserve recognition in shifting the focus from "god" to "self"), but never have I perceived so much force and meaning, clarity of vision and desire to push forward the cultural debate as in Young's work. I'll be following him for further publications and get knee-deep in the transhumanist movement. In the meanwhile, I envy you if you're about to start reading this book!
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book will give you the vocabulary and fundamentals to understand the world as an evolved result of life's history. I pick it up and read it very often; just opening it up from a random spot and reading about evolutionism. If you feel empty inside and need a way to explain this evolved life, this book will give you purpose to evolve and love life again. We did evolve to get here! And you can be part of the movement to evolve more! Humans have a purpose and Young's book lays out the past, present, and future ideas that we need to bring on the evolutionary change of today.
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19 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Manifesto: A public declaration of principles, policies, or intentions, especially of a political nature.

And this is exactly that. His theme is that genetic engineering and biotechnology offer us a future that atttempts to eliminate disease, defeat death and enhance the body and mind beyond the limitations of the ate-old human condition.

Humanist: of or pertaining to a philosophy asserting human dignity and man's capacity for fulfillment through reason and scientific method and often rejecting religion.

The author's comment is that 'Goodwill to all men' is a rational tactic for mutual survival and well-being. We no longer need God in order to be good - though a suicide bomber needs him to be bad.

If this book gets enough circulation to attract attention, it should be able to annoy nearly everyone. Yet this is certainly one of the directions in which the world is headed.

Fascinating.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
For an author who is self admittedly not a scientist, Simon Young executed this book perfectly. It goes to show that anyone with passion can still write an intelligent book. This book as of 2011, will still make you reflect at you own personal beliefs, which is a more than positive thing. For those keeping an open mind, despite your personal philosophy this is an extremely fascinating read. Some of the words are not in laymans terms but the explanation is, which makes this an easy read. This would make for anyones library or, dare i say, an addition for a book discussion.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must read. Not just because it gives an idea as to how our future civilization may appear, but it gives an amazing overview of our entire journey to the present. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in how civilizations evolve. It also gives ammunition to the rational members of our society when called upon to respond to the most ignorant among us. Well done, sir.
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