'Someone' versus 'something': A reflection on transhumanist values in light of education

Tomas Bokedal, Solveig M. Reindal* (Corresponding Author), Svein Rise, Stein M. Wivestad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Innovations in genetics, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence involve the possibility of enhancement of human attributes and capacities—offering humans innumerable opportunities for diverse, unprecedented experiences and developments both physically and cognitively. These new innovations, frequently associated with theoretical frameworks such as transhumanism, not only raise new ethical–pedagogical questions but also challenge the very meaning of education. Core educational concepts pertaining to the human being, personhood, and the educational self now need to be re-examined or rediscovered in confrontation with transhumanist values. In regard to this task, we investigate Bostrom's teleological approach towards transhumanist values, questioning his understanding of the human person and the inherent implications of a sensible agenda for education, situated within the broad humanist tradition. As an alternative to an educational prospect based on, or endorsing, transhumanist values, we adopt Spaemann's personalist program, implementing his distinction between ‘being someone’ versus ‘being something’. Defending an understanding of the person as someone, and not as a thing that shall be cultivated, we employ Spaemann's distinction between anthropocentrism versus anthropomorphism, recognising the importance of contextualising the human being in a broader existential, embodied framework, while acknowledging the critique of the anthropocene. Along these lines, we elaborate on an understanding of education and the educated person that, in our view, safeguards core human values. In the discussion, we draw on insights from Spaemann, Arendt, Kierkegaard and Gadamer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-237
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Philosophy of Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Bostrom
  • broad humanism
  • person
  • Spaemann
  • transhumanism


Dive into the research topics of ''Someone' versus 'something': A reflection on transhumanist values in light of education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this