As part of the events marking the 20th anniversary of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation, Jean-Marie Le Méné, its president and Fabrice Hadjaj, philosopher and writer, debated the following topic on 22 May in Neuilly: “What role does the ‘lesser’ human being play in ‘elevating the human condition?” Lines of approach.
“Talk of transhumanism promises us all manner of miracles. We are presented with gadgets that chill us to the bone but the underlying anthropological roots are the most dangerous aspect of all,”warned Jean-Marie Le Méné, right from the outset. What does this mean? Thanks to genetics, computers and technology we can nowadays “make man, dismantle man, remake man and perfect man. Mankind can be repaired, modified, increased” he explained as if the freedom of mankind could stretch to infinity, and the human body could be transformed without any dangers or obstacles, in line with technological progress, albeit with the risk of distorting mankind along the way.
One question is right at the heart of the concerns expressed by the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation, anxious to maintain focus in the media storm that regularly “whips things up”to emphasise “elevation of the human condition”. And Jean-Marie Le Méné recalls the Perruche case in 2000, relating to the “prejudice of being born” with a handicap: “This was a genetic Hiroshima – transhumanism had already started”. More recently, “It was placing a ban on uploading a video showing Down syndrome children, enjoying life, and currently the case of Vincent Lambert, “ with minimal consciousness”,who has already suffered two failed attempts at euthanasia and who no one can visit without showing his/her ID card”. It is the same scenario every time: “Those who want to stay human are placed in the dock. They have to provide evidence to justify and defend life”.
This is an unprecedented situation, which raises new questions and concerns everyone. “Before, we didn’t ask whether a child was to be born of a man and woman. We shouldn’t have to choose between several options to die. What was a necessity yesterday has now become an option. Traditional morality is not reflected and the emergence of gender is only a culmination of influential western philosophy,”stated Fabrice Hadjaj, referring to an individualistic and dualistic anthropology,“a spiritual, transcendental type that has put sexuality to one side”.
An awareness that would “prevent a total disaster. Because transhumanism has a self-destruct button!” explained the philosopher. “If you elevate the human condition, the latest discovery will soon be overtaken by another, rendering the previous one obsolete. Moreover, why do you want immortality? There is nothing more suicidal than immortality – you will end up shooting yourself in the head. Finally to elevate the human condition, you wait for the right moment and the best way of doing it. Transhumanist thoughts trigger demographic suicide”contrary to the promises of paradise that it claims to offer or rather provide.
Modern man is easy prey succumbing to the seductive appeal of consumer goods of which dreams are made: “A life without any tragedy or transcendence”, without suffering or sacrifice, benefiting industrial and financial empires that fuel it, thereby satiating narcissistic desires. “Things we can do by ourselves (cooking, sewing, culture, etc.) are pre-empted by an industrial device that gradually robs us to the point of commercialising our bodies, which have become different material,” explains the philosopher. Is this inevitable?
A frontal attack would be ineffective. It would be like the pot calling the kettle black. More to the point, it would side-step the real issues which, before being practical and tactical, are metaphysical – where does life come from? where is life going? –and anthropological – what is a man? What is a woman?
Before long, “to create life between a man and a woman must be viewed as a gift from God”, emphasised Fabrice Hadaj. “Man has been removed, the role of masculinity has been regulated,” lamented Jean-Marie Le Méné whereas the philosopher went on to explain, “We have embarked in feminism with a masochistic slant, resulting in the emasculation of man. Behind masochistic women there are emasculated men”. He concluded that,“The key to resistance is motherhood” in all its mystery and beauty – an urgent task to keep hope alive.