PreprintPDF Available
Preprints and early-stage research may not have been peer reviewed yet.
Unity and Multiplicity of Conceptualizing Man within Human
Medicine and the Perils of Transhumanism
Gerald Ulrich
Abstract: Calling something in question means to refer to a certain point of view that
generally coincides with a person’s conception of man and world. In such conceptions the
spirit of the times (zeitgeist) expresses itself. This means that certain opinions are shared by
a majority for certain periods.
A striking example of the actually prevailing spirit of the times has been delivered by several
bestsellers of Ray Kurzweil (K). K is a recognized computer- and software expert. The core
of his opinion is: We will become able to copy in the foreseeable future human brains. In
addition, K is considered to be the thought leader of so-called Transhumanism (T), a world-
wide socio-political movement. As shown by the media driven controversial discussion
concerning the pros and cons, the thematic priority of T belongs to medicine with a focus on
enhancing the physical and psychological capacities of men. A precondition of the feasibility
of these objectives is the conviction that human beings are able to transform themselves by
expanding from their natural condition into posthuman beings. By their self-characterization
the proponents try to create the impression of a profound philosophical foundation along
with a continuation of humanism and enlightment thinking. Notwithstanding, all
announcements imply a lack of familiarity with the heritage of 2500 years of occidental
philosophy. This may be followed among other things from the main issue being discussed
by the proponents of T, the supposedly actual need to determine in human panels what is
human, what is natural and what is artificial. These questions have already been profoundly
investigated by the Platonic philosophy and the ensuing philosophy of enlightment of the
17th century. It is dismaying that neither proponents nor detractors of T base themselves on
the acknowledged authority of philosophical history. To characterize the ideas of T as
“quasi-scientific dreams and prophecies” or “fear-of-death-driven fantasies” as philosopher
Midgley (23) did in her book “Science as Salvation” (1992), is appropriate, but not enough.
One had instead expected to read compelling reasons for that stream of abuse. Only
epistemology can help to clarify the limits of a technology that becomes more and more
obscure but nevertheless exists necessarily.
Key words:
The epistemological CUT and:
HUMAN Thinking
Spontaneous development towards INCREASING
SUITABILITY-assessment in medical practice
Patient’s INDIVIDUALITY in medical practice
1.Introduction 4
2.The Differences between Artificial and Human Thinking 5
3.The Recognitional Principles of Exakt Induction and
Probabilistic Assessment with special Consideration of
Medicine 7
4. Personal Experiences Resulting from the Dynamic Coupling of the Human
Organism with its Environment 9
5. Concept and Manufacturing of the General Problem Solver (GPS) as well
as the Significance of Robodocs in an Evidence based Medicine 12
6. Practiced Medicine as an Amalgamation of the Necessities of
Thinking and the Necessities of Nature due to a Deliberate
Changeability of the Epistemological CUT 15
7. Ray Kurzweil and “TRANSHUMANISM” 17
8. Epilogue 22
References 25
1. Introduction
The claim of each individual person at finding his own rationally founded world-view rests
on a certain mindset. It is the purpose of epistemology to clarify the limits thereof. Such a
mindset is, for instance, traceable to Leibniz (17) – one of the greatest polymaths of the
second millennium – who opposed necessity by thinking and necessity by nature, whereby
the former was deemed absolutely valid ever and everywhere and independent of
technological development. He who adopts such a firm belief as one’s own, will easily earn
the reproach to be a pessimist concerning advances in modern sciences. In line with this one
may read for example that in view of the preliminary final goal of computer technology,
namely the quantum computer, it would be wise to refrain from any statement concerning
the limits of the technically possible. Such recommendations – especially from experts – are
generally formulated in such a manner that the interested layman will have to assume that
everything which can be thought will indeed become realizable by quantum computers. In
contrast, we will argue in detail that by necessity of nature all progresses in computer
technology will only be of quantitative nature, concerning storage capacity and speed of data
processing. The long-yearned–for quantum computer cannot be more than the technical
realization of quantum mechanics which was elaborated in all mathematical details more
than 70 years ago. Nevertheless, we have to admit that the technical realization of a quantum
computer has not been successful beyond any doubt till now and it is obscure whether after
all it will ultimately be accomplished.
Concerning necessity by thinking, no essential gain in knowledge can be stated within the
past 2500 years (4). When talking about increase and deepening of our knowledge, we refer
only to our progressive penetration into the lawfulness of nature, using all that which can be
subsumed under necessity by thinking as our fundamental tool.
The central topic is the relation between man and machine or between biology and medicine.
2. The Differences Between Artificial and Human Thinking
It is known that the original goal of computer science to totally model human thinking, or in
other terms, the General Problem Solver (GPS) was recognized as unattainable already in
the fifties of the 19th century. Consequently, the research programs were revised. Only
particular problems of practical importance seemed to deserve further interest, e.g.
automatic face recognition or acoustic speech recognition. These lines of research proved to
be very successful, and further progress can be expected. However, today it seems that one
will no longer accept the impossibility of the GPS (General Problem Solving) machine (30).
Moreover, the declared goal does not merely consist of a technical reconstruction of human
thinking and feeling, but rather of an abolishment of the naturally given boundary between
man and machine.
Every axiomatic mathematical theory is inherently understood as a Platonic archetype or a
necessity by thinking. Its origin or invention/creation does not depend on a particular human
being. It rather originates as a timeless likeness or image of the transcendent thinking of the
deity, giving rise to a multitude of models.
Some of them will remain within the domain of the necessity by thinking
Others will belong to the necessity by nature, and
Still others are in addition realizable by technology.
It is thanks to Gödel (8) to have convincingly shown that the solution for innumerable
problems within natural sciences - all proved to be solvable – lies outside the scope of any
axiomatic methods. In contrast to a computer that always uses a well-defined axiomatic
system of algorithms and programs, human mind is able to contrive quite different new ways
of problem solving or differently expressed, to climb always new meta-steps of theory.
With Penrose (24) we may distinguish algorithmic and non-algorithmic thinking. The first is
accessible to a computer, the second only to the human mind. If there should nevertheless be
doubts whether one deals with artificial or human intelligence in a concrete situation, the so-
called Turing test is available (33). Accordingly, a decision is made if a human experimenter
is unable to distinguish the machine from a human being by means of a written dialogue.
Moreover, the limitation of every software compared to human thinking becomes evident
when one looks upon the classic rhetoric figure of the oxymoron. An especially striking
example is the latin proverb: “Discordia concors”(to be in agreement in disagreement).
According to Newton, the effectiveness of a theory is not only reflected by the solved, but
also by the newly raised questions. This implies that only human minds will always invent
new methods of proving and thus get to new questions and knowledge, forever. If one is
laying weight on the differences between artificial and natural thinking, the ability of
contriving consistently new ways of problem solving is the most precious. This genuine
human endowment is the precondition for the never completed process of constituting
knowledge. The deeper our insights, the clearer becomes to us the unfathomable character of
nature whose bottom is unattainable. The decisive difference between “computer thinking”
and human mind is, for instance demonstrated by the spectacular competitions between
chess champions and computers. If we talk about underlying causes of the individual ability
of chess players, we have to distinguish both between necessity by nature and necessity by
thinking. In order to make progress as chess player – i.e. by means of an increase and
deepening of specific chess knowledge, one has to refer to the progressive penetration into
the lawfulness of the necessity by nature, using as a tool the laws of logic, or rather all that
which can be subsumed under necessity by thinking. The central topic is the relation between
the two necessities. The more the necessity by nature has been developed by an increase of
storage capacity and speed of data processing, the more competitive the player will become.
3. The Recognitional Principles of Exact Induction and Probabilistic
Assessment with Special Consideration of Medicine
In Platon’s dialogue “Parmenides” (26), Parmenides explained to young Socrates, that the
different images- each for itself – also belong to an existence of their own besides the
“archetype”, being represented by a certain “idea”. The idea is independent from a particular
human being. Its origin is in the transcendence. The “exact induction” of Galilei which is
obligatory for all exact natural sciences enables us to gain concrete images of the
transcendent archetype by means of experimental research. The images increase the number
of entities. The Galilean principle may be contrasted with the so-called probabilistic or
statistical principle named after Aristotle. The latter dominates nowadays the humanities,
especially medicine and does not claim compelling inductive inferences. Regrettably it often
remains out of consideration that this recognitional principle rests upon presuppositions
which are often unfulfilled and hence are ignored. The statistical probabilistics are
malfunctioning in cases where the whole is more than the sum of its parts. On the other
hand, the probabilistic assessment has its justification in cases where particular
combinations of features arise as a result of single mutually independent features. How the
multiplication of entities comes about may be illustrated by a musical composition, regarded
as an analogue to a mathematical theory. One and the same composition is represented by a
multitude of printed scores, by many sound carriers making use of different technological
devices, and in all concert presentations as well. Even on the neurophysiological level of
description a musical composition corresponds to quite different brain-electrical dynamic
patterns in different individuals as well as with different occasions. (27). When
implementing an axiomatic mathematical theory or a musical composition, one has to keep
in mind that the composition is man-made. Mathematics, in contrast is of transcendental
The multitude of models are mutually independent because they own quite different spatio-
temporal structures. Concerning to the common theory or archetype, all structures are
images from each other. This difference between composition and mathematical theory is
decisively important since only human mind or esthetic sensitivity are able to create a tonal
composition being completely different to the hitherto heard. This is excluded with a
mathematical theory. Since its origin resides in the transcendence only one single solution
may exist. Put another way, the sources of human artistic sensitivity are to be formalized just
as little as the sources of his intellect are. Here too, the unfathomable of the being is the
more obvious as the unattainable bottom is far apart from our consciousness.
Kurt Gödel (8) already knew in contrast to the confidence of the mainstream which
prevailed in the thirties of the 20th century that a universal software could be excluded. But
time was not yet ripe for accepting this truth. The exact mathematical proof was published in
the early seventies by a Russian logician.
With regards to medicine, it cannot be denied that the nomothetic-quantiative has been
developed at the expense of the idiographic-qualitative. As a consequence, the inference
from statistical significance values calculated with a controlled sample towards a concrete
case represents inevitably a leap in the dark. Thus, the actions required by a physician,
always imply a certain degree of uncertainty. Owing to ethical considerations this has to be
communicated to the patient in an appropriate manner. A further essential part of the
physician’s profession is gestalt perception. Nobel price laureate Konrad Lorenz (19)
repeatedly pointed out that the Galilean recognitional principle of the rational needed as an
indispensable supplement non-reflective perceptions. For the latter he referred to Leibniz
(17) who had coined the term of the ratiomorphic as an important source of intuitive
If we try to answer the question how medicine would be brought into line with other
scientific disciplines, it is decisive to realize that medicine does not rest on unadulterated or
pure cases or facts according to the Galilean principle of an exact science. Medicine, rather
deals in essence with so-called inverse or ill-posed problems, at least with respect to
diagnostics. This means that not only one but more solutions exist for any problem. It
remains undecided which solution is the true one because all solution are only different
models of the inaccessible truth (see chapter 3). Medicine shares this characteristic with
several different sciences as for instance criminology, paleontology, long-time forecast
meteorology, psychoanalysis, in sum if one has to go back from effect to cause, whereby an
unequivocal-reversible relation between cause and effect does not exist. The opposite is
represented by sciences with direct, well-posed and stable Problems with only one solution
4. Personal Experiences Resulting from the Dynamic Coupling of the
Human Organism with its Environment
All personal experiences result from a process of dynamic coupling of the organism with its
environment (20). Among other conscious experiences the experience of “free will” arises
from this process. For me it is quite obvious that I am doing what I will. My EGO appears to
me as the “sufficient reason” (17). Apart from the question of priority of willing and acting,
it can be taken for granted that the electrical potentials corresponding to the “intention to
act”, appear prior to the fully cognizant perception of having made a decision to act (18).
From this it was concluded: We do not what we will, but we will what we are doing! Such
findings make clear that we are dealing with two phenomenal domains which have to be
strictly separated, the:
a) domain of experimental psychology (subjective, performance, first-person-
perspective, mind language), and the
b) domain of objective brain physiology (objective, function, third-person-
perspective, brain language).
German gestalt-psychology of the thirties of the last century tried to account for the
developmental process of inner experiences by means of the concept of “Aktualgenese”.
Making use of introspection within a strictly experimental approach, a regular sequence of
different experiences was found. They ranged from a rather undifferentiated experience, just
having transgressed the threshold of consciousness (so-called “protopathische Vorgestalt”)
across stages of steadily increasing differentiation, up to clearly differentiated mental
contents (“epikritische Endgestalt”), the latter typically going along with a high level of
awareness of reality (28; 3). The experience of the vivid conviction of being deliberately
willing to perform a particular action is an example of such an “Endgestalt”. Generalizing,
we talk about the “free will” of man. With anglo-american literature the concept of
unconscious perceptions is to be found under the term of microgenesis (2). If we assume that
the mental results from a developmental process being comparable to the focusing of a field
glass, the generated experience may be located between insufficient and excellent focusing.
John Hughlings Jackson (11) denoted that gradual difference of images as “from “faint” up
to “vivid”. By denomination a phenomenon becomes a real object. From this follows that
the reality corresponds to that which has being, notwithstanding whether or not it has been
perceived by a human being. In the introduction chapter of his famous book entiteled “Die
Prinzipien der Mechanik” Heinrich Hertz (10) wrote:
We are making virtual images of external objects, namely of such a manner that by
necessity of thinking the consequences of those images will correspond by necessity of
nature to the depicted objects” (transl. from German by the author).
It seems to be a plausible research strategy to match (a) the stages of performance ,or of
psychology with (b) stages of function, or of neurophysiology. Regrettably, this job cannot
be done, because there exist no unique one-to-one correlations between both domains being
logically incommensurable. A neurophysiologist who first measures the slow potential shifts
that arise within the cortex (so-called Bereitschaftspotentiale) along with the beginning of an
action and only thereafter learns something about a corresponding volitional impulse, will
possibly regard the domain of subjective experiences (qualia) to result from legitimate
reductionism and thus to be nothing but mere self-deception. This conclusion, however,
would be justified if solely the perspective of an external or objective observer had a
scientific legitimation. Such a premise is being regarded indeed as mandatory without any
discussion, by the greater part of today’s neuroscientists. Consequently, Subjectivity, EGO-
consciousness, and Free Will are regarded as unscientific fictions. As such, they can of
course not be the object of serious empirical research. This view is also known as
eliminative reductionism which is by no means an achievement of modern science. More
than 250 y ears ago, it was elaborated in the book “L’homme machine” by the French
physician and philosopher Julien Offray de la Mettrie (21). For eliminative reductionsm it
does not matter whether the physiology of the brain is modelled by a clock-work, as de la
Mettrie did, a steam engine, a first order cybernetic machine with feedback, a second order,
self-organizing cybernetic machine or a learning neuronal network. Each one of these
models implies the pretension of an algorithmical formalization of all psychological or
subjective states, whatsoever. When one views the brain as the material basis of the
personality software certain theoretical conclusions may be deduced. In recent years these
have gained wider public by means of the catchword Transhumanism. In chapter 7 the
conditions of the socio-cultural movement behind this catchword which encroaches at
popular scientific soil shall be elaborated in detail. Moreover the sectarian features are
exposed to be observed with modern biological natural sciences due to solely rendering
homage to a physicalistic world view. Previously (chapter 5), the impossibility of
manufacturing the General Problem Solver will be touched on. Afterwards (chapter 6), the
procedural flaws of eliminative reductionism being overrepresented with all kinds of natural
sciences, especially the neurosciences will be analyzed.
5. Concept and Manufacturing of the General Problem Solver (GAS)
as well as the Significance of “Robodocs” in an “Evidence Based
In order to manufacture a machine which is comparable to human mind by its essence, one
would have to devise a program that is not based on a particular formalized axiomatic
system, but is able to transcend itself. This would imply the ability to decide in advance
whether an actually given problem can be solved or not. If not, it should be able to generate
a meta-program, based on totally different axioms. Just like the original program, the new
meta-program should be able to decide in a self-determined manner, whether it will be
successful or not. If need be, the invention of a meta-meta-program would be required – a
regressio ad infinitum. This equals to an algorithm of self-referentiality that formalizes the
infiniteness of human knowledge.
Such creatures would even be characterized by their own unique historicity.
Conceptually the direction of the GPS manufacturing process would be one from the
Abstract to the Concrete. A robot physician of that kind would theoretically also be equipped
with the following three core properties of a physician:
Scientific rationality as well as intuition,
Ethical attitude, and
Approachable and empathetic attitude.
That compilation complies with those requirements to be addressed to the physician since
Middle Ages: “Primum lex, salus aegroti” (the highest law is the welfare of the sick person).
This begs the question whether or in how far human physicians might be replaced for the
benefit of humans by artificial devices, so-called Robot Docs.
However, a computer which is equipped with a non-trivial system software of self-
referentiality is a contradiction in itself, because every computational rule implies by
definition inner consistency and finiteness.
Some years ago, an unscheduled experiment has, at least partially, answered this question.
Because the milling of the bony socket with hip replacement has to be as accurately as
possible, this tedious work was relinquished to a high-tech device being specifically
construed for this purpose called Robodoc. The outcome was diametrically opposite to the
expected one, widespread. From that unexpected tragedy, orthopedic surgeons had to learn
that medicine holds unexpected problems with unknown causes. The spirit of the times
represent still the exact sciences of the Galilean type. Its conceptual blue-print is that of an
algorithm of self-referentiality which formalizes the infiniteness of human knowledge. The
methodological progression is from the Abstract to the Concrete. The proceeding towards
concretization and individualization is not only a matter of recognizing the variety of
context-independent phenomena but also of commanding their appearances. The inductive
experience of the world is the closer to reality, the more the one may be abstracted from the
multiplicity of the phenomena. To get bogged down initially in thousand concrete details
means to remain blind to the abstract essentials of these details and thus to the reality of the
world. The blindness to the abstract essentials due to the abundance of irrelevant concrete
details was obviously the true cause of the dramatic malfunction of Robodoc, a malfunction
that can not simply be corrected on account of the unknown interacting effects of the data
To be sure, there is no conceptual problem in constructing such a machine, where the
successive changes of the operator’s transformation rules are determined by a certain
algorithm. Alas, this would again be nothing but a “trivial machine” steered by a certain
Since the technological realization of such a “living machine” is to be excluded by necessity
of thinking, it is also excluded in addition that human intelligence may ever be realized
Compared with this, Medical practice forces us to methodologically proceed in the opposite
manner, i.e. from the Concrete to the Abstract, i.e. from well-defined symptoms to
unknown, often ill-posed causes.
Otherwise, it may be stated in spite of its conceptual simplicity of a GPS its technical
realization will remain out of consideration, forever by necessity of thinking. Therewith one
has to keep in mind, that the mere existence of a fact proves the possibility of its creation,
irrespective of the indispensable knowledge. On account of a gedankenexperiment, a
computer aided design is imaginable in the abstract, i.e. by outlining all possible “ways” to
be constructed from the 24 letters of the alphabet. But even therewith one would not reach
success, because we will never know how the right order could be found from the myriad of
the prescribed ones.
6. Practiced Medicine as an Amalgamation of the Necessities by Thinking
and the Necessities by Nature due to the Deliberate Changeability of
the Epistemologic Cut
Outstanding representatives of physics with a philosophical background, e.g. (1; 9; 31, 32)
have vehemently opposed the eliminative reductionism evermore encroaching. They have
always stressed that physics does not at all claim to be able to deal with everything that is
the case. Rather, one had to distinguish between the objective world given to us but not
allowing us immediate sensual access and the subjective world which is meaningful to us (9;
31; 36). This distinction is generally regarded as obsolete by present representatives of life
sciences, for example neuroscientists, biochemistrists or experts in molecular genetics. The
self-understanding of biological natural sciences has strongly influenced both research and
practice of human medicine. The progress in medicine, starting in the midst of the 19th
century and continuing since that time, owes in the first line to the utilization of objective
scientific knowledge and of permanently improved devices. From this arose the misleading
designation of medical auxiliary sciences as medicine’s basic sciences (35). Formerly in
conflicting situations between clinical signs on the one hand and laboratory findings on the
other, therapeutic decisions were determined by pathognomonic picture, as a rule. This rule
was substantiated by the fact that the clinical picture was a reflection of the physician’s
practical experience and the acquisition of anamnesis across long years beyond verified
knowledge. Nowadays, there is an increasing trend towards the inverse. This has resulted in
a general overestimation of laboratory findings out of their causal relations as well as
compared to the clinical overall appearance. But this involves the danger that Medicine is
increasingly understood and developed towards an exact natural science. This development
is characterized by a Galilean methodology of exact induction and correct deduction. It is
promoted by the so-called Evidence Based Medicine, being an advanced trend as long as it
is not restricted to the so-called “external evidence” as the knowledge from clinical studies
with simultaneous disregard of so-called “internal evidence”, understood as the experience
based on long years of patient care. But medical practice is not solely a matter of context-
independent truths in the manner of laws. It is rather also or even in the first line, a matter of
context-dependent suitability assessment due to an amalgamation of the necessity by nature
with the necessity by thinking. By means of a reduction of medicine to exact natural
sciences, medicine is in danger to degenerate to an exact natural science (in the Galilean
sense) of living tissue. One should not disregard that both psychology and sociology may
deliver insights to a practicing physician as a supplement to exact natural sciences. Practiced
medicine takes for granted that the Galilean doctrine of experience will be completed by the
Aristotelian principle of statistical probabilism. The latter means that from the multiplicity
of observational data as the Concrete the unifying ones as the Abstract in the sense of a
diagnosis have to be extracted.
As Heinz von Foerster (5) has repeatedly stressed, living being, e.g. humans are non-trivial
machines and change as such the rules for the transformation of input to output as a result of
each interaction with its environment.
By means of Kant’s (12) theoretical reason human beings are able to make an
epistemologic cut between the necessity by thinking and the necessity by nature. The
degree of the correspondence between both views was seen as a measure of the truth of an
At the attempt of answering the question whether it is possible to simulate human
intelligence/thinking by an artificial device, one has to beware of an obvious categorical
fallacy which consists in a restriction to only one of the two necessities by thinking. The
epistemic flaw of the resulting imbalance/bias will immediately show up more plausible if
“Intelligence/Thinking” is substituted by “Flight/flying” and by asking whether and to what
extent birds can be distinguished from airplanes in this respect. In the latter example it will
immediately become clear that this question is nonsensical if the necessity by nature is
omitted. The same applies to intelligence/thinking. If it is impossible to semantically
distinguish human- and artificial intelligence , the more it will be precluded to imitate
human intelligence/thinking, artificially in an identical manner.
7. Kurzweil and the “Transhumanism”
In the years 1999 (13), 2005 (14) and 2012 (15) three absolute bestsellers appeared which
contained exciting futuristic theses. The author was Ray Kurzweil. The core of his opinion
expressed in his first bestseller “The Age of Spiritual Machines” (13) was:
We will become able to copy human brains. My computer will become are presentation of
my personality”.
The mystic strive towards a unification with the deity becomes a unification with the
computer. In fact, for many people, the deity has been replaced by the computer. The
modern “unio mystica” no longer aims at transcending one’s own bodily existence, but at a
transformation of the personal individuality into “information” that can be stored in the
“world wide web” – a new kind of paradise. Immortality is no longer a matter of belief. It
appears to be manageable! Who would earnestly contest that Kurzweil’s assertion of the
possibility to separate, within the brain, hardware from software is of utmost importance for
our conception of man and world? But nevertheless, little critical discussion exists on this
point! In order to regain the lost orientation in the endless ocean of meaningless data, we all
– laymen or experts – badly need a reconsideration of epistemology, i.e. the theory of the
preconditions of scientific knowledge. Only epistemology can help to clarity the limits of a
technology that becomes more and more obscure but nevertheless exists necessarily! Such a
mindset is, for instance, traceable to Leibniz, who opposed necessity by thinking and
necessity by nature, whereby the former was deemed absolutely valid – ever and everywhere
– and independent of technological development. He who adopts such a firm belief as one’s
own, will easily earn the reproach to be a pessimist concerning advances in modern
sciences. In line with this, one may read for example, that in view of the preliminary final
goal of computer technology, namely the quantum computer, it would be wise to refrain
from any statement concerning the limits of the technically possible. Such recommendations
– especially from experts – are generally formulated in such a manner that the interested
layman will have to assume that everything which can be thought will indeed become
realizable by quantum computers. In contrast, we will argue in detail that by necessity of
nature all progresses in computer technology will only be of a quantitative nature,
concerning storage capacity and speed of data processing. The long-yearned-for quantum
computer cannot be more than the technical realization of quantum mechanics, which was
elaborated in all mathematical details more than 70 years ago. Nevertheless, we have to
admit that the technical realization of a quantum computer has not been successful beyond
any doubt till now and it is obscure whether after all it will ultimately be accomplished.
Concerning necessity by thinking, no essential gain in knowledge can be stated within the
past 2500 years. When talking about increase and deepening of our knowledge, we refer
only to our progressive penetration into the lawfulness of nature or the necessities by nature,
using all that which can be subsumed under necessity by thinking as our fundamental tool.
The central topic is the relation between man and machine.
On account of his exciting theses, Kurzweil has been declared as today’s most influential
scientific futurist. His beliefs are controversially discussed. He is considered as a visionary
of “Artificial Intelligence” and a genius of Computer Sciences but also as an unscientific
and quasi religious sectarist.
His second bestseller “The Singularity is Near. When Humans Transcend Biology “
appeared in 2005 (14). The core topic is the exponential growth in all information
technological domains (Genetics, Nanotechnology, Robotics).The salient point in the growth
curve will be reached in 2045. He denoted this very year “technological singularity” in
reference to the black holes of physics because predictions will become impossible by no
later than 2045. The human kind will increasingly merge with the new artificial intelligence
and move from its biological being. In 2009 he was appointed as a chosen member of the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2012 Kurzweil became Director of Engineering
with Google (the source of the majority of the biographical data recited in this article) and
received the prestigious National Medal of Technology by president Clinton. A further honor
was his collaboration with Marvin Minsky, founder of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab.
and widely regarded as the “father of artificial intelligence”. In his third bestseller which
appeared in 2012 (16), entiteled “How to Create a Mind - The Secret of Human Thought
Revealed”, he presented a provocative exploration of the most important future project in
human machine civilization. In it he described his pattern recognition theory of mind.
Accordingly, the neocortex is a hierarchical system of neural pattern recognizers arguing
that emulating this architecture in machines could lead to an artificial superintelligence.
Kurzweil lived with the idea that technological progress would exceed human mind within
foreseeable time. His central assumption with this book was that the CNS consisted from
300 millions hierarchically ordered integrated neuronal circuits, recognizing all information
patterns being contained in the world. Because for all pattern recognition processes, only
one single algorithm will be used, a model may be created whose output cannot be
distinguished from that of a human being. According to his prophecy such “conscious
machines” will be able to create any more intelligent machines. The merging of man with
artificial intelligence as created by him will overcome the limitations established by the
biological bodies in order to bypass into other forms of existing.
Last but not least, Kurzweil is a thought leader of so-called Transhumanism as a category
of opinions that will beacon towards a posthuman condition. In addition to his prophecy
concerning the overcoming of the biological being, Transhumanism strives at a radical
prolongation of life by means of the “three bridges”, The first bridge are nutritional
supplements (Kurzweil takes supposedly 250 different compounds daily). The second bridge
is biotechnology, whatever that may be and the third bridge is bodily training together with a
stress-free manner of life. The most substantial detractors of Transhumanism are the late
Joseph Weizenbaum (see also chapter 8), pioneer of computer science and the renowned
political scientist Francis Fukuyama (6) who called Transhumanism as one of the world’s
most dangerous ideas. This danger is especially prevailing in an aging society. Due to an
increase of artificial aids (aids to improve hearing and seeing, heart valves, joint
replacements etc.) elderly persons come closer evermore to composite beings with both
vivid and technical materials, i.e. to so-called cyborgs (cybernetic organisms). A solid
objection which may not be refuted is the statement that an increase of the cognitive and
physical capabilities might become dangerous with respect to a peaceful living together of
humans if the moral qualifications are not increased contemporaneously. The opposite seems
to be more probable. Moreover, it has been doubted that mankind does not possess the
technologies that is looked for by the proponents of Transhumanism.
In this respect one may refer to the changeability of the CUT - also named according to
Heisenberg (9) as the CUT between classic and quantum physics.(see also Chapter 6) - as
the precondition that our reason is able to place a CUT between the necessities of thinking
and of nature.
Kurzweil talks about a “non-biological intelligence” to be realized at a future time which
will acquire scope and subtlety of the natural human intelligence, so far. As we have tried to
explain in the foregoing, the essence of human intelligence consists in the deliberate
changeability of necessity by nature and the necessity by thinking. Human thinking begins
by placing a cut, thereby dividing the preexisting whole (1; 9; 31). In case of reaching the
aspired goal of a “non-biological intelligence” the “psychic way of thinking” will be
suspended. But not only the “psychic way of thinking” will be suspended. Since the
changeability of the CUT warrants the jump to meta-levels, it enables man to escape from
the endless loops of paradoxes due to different logic levels. Without preserved changeability
of the CUT, it will be impossible to understand: The thinking thinks the thinking, a
proposition ascribed to Plotin (205-270 PC). Here we have to deal with three logical levels
to be distinguished. Because the CUT is by no means preexistent within the unity of the
being, it is up to the human observer, where he will place the cut. According to Treder (31)
the where depends solely on the actual question to be answered or on the actual context.
Eventually, the ability of placing a CUT is intrinsically bound to language. Language and
subject-object dichotomy share a common root. He who utters an expression is placing a
CUT. Denominating of phenomena by virtue of language creates real objects (16).
But what precedes the cut? As already explained, the precondition for making any CUT is
the dynamic coupling between the human being in its wholeness and its environment, the
synthesis, which was seen as equivalent to life by the German philosopher Schelling (29).
Therewith, the issue of Transhumanism has resolved itself, all the more as the given
argument is completely in line with Weizenbaum. In his book “Computer Power and Human
Reason. From Judgement to Calculation” which appeared in 1976 (37), well before
Kurzweil’s prophecies, he displayed his ambivalence towards computer technology and
“artificial intelligence”. Therewith he discovered a slavery under the dictate of the machine.
He cautioned that we should never allow computers to make important decisions since those
machines would always lack human qualities such as compassion and wisdom. He made a
crucial distinction between deciding and choosing/judging. The first one was a typical
computational activity that can be programmed. The latter, in contrast, was a non-
programmable capability that ultimately makes us human. This applies especially to
comprehensive human judgment including emotions.
Although the colloquially formulated argument of Weizenbaum hits the bullseye, the deeper
epistemological meaning may possibly not become plain instantaneously to everyone. The
contrast of judgement and decision conforms to that between human- and artificial
intelligence. Eliminating human/biological intelligence appreciated by Kurzweil and his
followers and criticized by Weizenbaum signifies an elimination of the concrete lifeworld
and therewith an elimination of the necessities by nature as well as of the psychic way of
thinking and of an inability to create by means of denominating real objects. Also the ability
of the living organism to reach developmental stages of higher complexity by coupling with
its environment is lost, both actual- and phylogenetically. This is tantamount with an
inability to reach evermore higher complex meta and meta-meta-levels etc. of abstraction.
All these cognitive deficits may be reduced to the common denominator of a suspended
changeability to deliberately place a CUT due to the defunct concrete lifeworld with all
pertinent necessities by nature. To Heinz von Foerster (5), the sum of such cognitive
inabilities due to an overcoming of the biological endowment is a matter of a trivialization
of non-trivial system. This is in accord with Heisenberg’s statement that, physicists – at least
those being denoted as significant in retrospect –do not claim to be competent for all which
is the case. They rather are aiming for truths, i.e. abstract statements revised from all
subjective or non-trivial. The evolutional development of a non- trivial biological system
which has Kurzweil in mind is excluded by necessity of thinking.
The increase of an exponential growth of storage capacity and speed of data processing is
mere man-made and implemented by external “observers” conducted by actual needs.
8. Epilog
It is the human being as a whole, who faces the world.
From a theoretical point of view it does so as a knowledge-gathering subject, and from a
pragmatic point of view as a self-responsible acting person with Free Will.
According to Treder (31; 36), Kant’s Pure Reason places the CUT between the necessity by
thinking and the necessity by nature. Therewith, a unified worldview without reductionism is
created. Simultaneously, the question of a primacy concerning the one or the other is
rendered superfluous. The same applies to the so-called epistemological sciences wars.
Every mental act is founded upon the dichotomy of subject and object. In order to
investigate whether “artificial machine-intelligence” equals human intelligence the
following has to be considered (Figure 1): From the perspective of evolutionary biology we
ultimately recognize that the constructions of a concrete lifeworld as real facts, as there are:
the phenomenal world
a free will
an EGO standing behind
and the creation of objects by a denomination of phenomena
These issues are of adaptive value for the species and thus necessary by evolution. With
respect to the finding of new solutions beyond algorithmic thinking it is thanks to Gödel (8)
that human mind will always invent new methods of proving and thus get to new questions
and knowledge forever. It is furthermore advantageous to a living organism to act, perceive
and think by disregarding the physiological processes that connect each organism with the
real world by thousands of invisible threads as was stated by Jakob v. Uexküll (34) or put
another way, it is advantageous if the machine code of the brain may be replaced by the user
code within the phenomenal world of lively experience. Man is the species which has
reached the highest degree of this evolutionary transformation. This seems to be the proper
cause for the extremely successful self-maintenance of homo sapiens.
Fig. 1
Non-Trivial Machine Trivial Machine
1.Starting: A Subject spontaneously refers A computer is switched on/off
to an Object of its environment (intrinsic) by an operator (extrinsic)
2.Interaction between an organism/ A manufactured device is
machine and its environment unable to interact with
3.Problem solving by placing a CUT between Problem solving: none!
necessity of thinking and the necessity of natur problems have to be
dealt with-defined
4..Development towards increasing complexity Development: none!
Short-term, with problem solving by placing a CUT Performance capability is
between the observing subject and the observed object of a quantitative nature,
or between that what is understandable and that what is concerning storage not yet
understood, or capacity and speed of data
Long-term, due to an urge of satisfaction of life-span processing
biological needs
5.Individuality on account of a own unique Individuality: none!
historicity due to ever changing transformation
rules between input and output
6.Language dependence Language dependence:
N one!
He, who utters an expression is placing a Cut:
the ability of placing a CUT is intrinsically
bound to language
By necessity of thinking
7.The Deliberate Changeability of the CUT HUMAN intelligence will
7.1 The CUT signifies the UNITY of the World-View never be realized or
without any Reductionism reconstructed
technologically. The
7.2 The Topology of the CUT excludes the assumption manufacturing of a
of a GAP and hence any ambiguity, as well as all Living machine is
tendencies towards softening of hard logics excluded by the same
(fuzzy logic) reason
1.Bohr N: Atomphysik und menschliche Erkenntnis. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig-
Wiesbaden, 1958
2.Brown J W: Morphogenesis and Mental Process. Development and Psychopathology
1994, 6: 551– 563
3. Conrad K: Über den Begriff der Vorgestalt und seine Bedeutung für die Hirnpathologie.
Nervenarzt 1947, 18: 289–306
4.Diels H, Kranz W: Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker. Weidmann, Basel, 1974
5.v. Foerster H: Sicht und Einsicht. Versuch einer operativen Erkenntnistheorie, Vieweg &
Sohn, Braunschweig-Wiesbaden, 1985
6.Fukuyama F: Our Posthuman Future. Picador, New York, 2003
7.Ginzburg C: Spurensicherungen über verborgene Geschichte, Kunst und soziales
Gedächtnis. Wagenbach, Berlin, 1983
8.Gödel K: Über formal unentscheidbare Sätze der Principia Mathematica und verwandter
Systeme, Monatshefte f. Mathematik und Physik 1931, 38: 173-198
9.Heisenberg W: Die Goethesche und die Newtonsche Farbenlehre (S. 58-76). In:
Wandlungen in den Grundlagen der Naturwissenschaft. Hirzel, Leipzig, 1942
10.Hertz H: Die Prinzipien der Mechanik. J.A. Barth, Leipzig, 1894
11..Jackson JH: 1884 Croonian Lectures (3 lectures) on the Evolution and Dissolution of
the Nervous System. The Lancet, March 29: 555-556; bilingual edition, Karger, Berlin
1927(transl. into German by O. Sittig, Prag)
12.Kant I (1794): Kritik der Urteilskraft ,Werkausgabe, Bd.10, W. Weischedel (ed)
Suhrkamp, Frankfurt a. M. 1977
13.Kurzweil R: The Age of Spiritual Machines. When Computers Exceed Human
Intelligence. Viking Pr. New York 1999
14.Kurzweil R: The Singularity is Near. When Humans Transcend Biology. Penguin, New
York, 2005
15.Kurzweil R: How to Create a Mind. The Secret of Human Thought. Viking Book , New
York 2012
16.Laszlo E Introduction to Systems Philosophy. Gordon & Breach, New York, London,
Paris, 1972
17.Leibniz GW: (1767) Neue Abhandlungen über den menschlichen Verstand. Meiner
(Neudruck, 1971), Hamburg
18.Libet B Unconscious cerebral initiative and the role of conscious will in voluntary
action. Behavioral & Brain Sciences 1985, 8: 529–566.
19.Lorenz K: Gestaltwahrnehmung als Quelle wissenschaftlicher Erkentnisse. Z exp angew
Psychol 1959, 6: 118-165
20.Maturana HR Erkennen: Die Organisation und Verkörperung der Wirklichkeit. Vieweg
& Sohn, Braunschweig , 1982
21.La Mettrie J O (1745) Histoire naturelle de l’ame, in Textes choisis,1954, Edition
Sociales, Paris
23.Midgley M: Science as Salvation. Routledge, London, 1992
24.Penrose R Shadows of the Mind. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, 1994
25.Planck M Scheinprobleme der Wissenschaft. J A Barth, Leipzig, 1947
26.Platon Dialog Parmenides, Ekkehard Martens (Hrsg.) Reclams Universalbibliothek,
27.Putnam H Representation and Reality. MIT Press, Boston MA, 1988
28.Sander F Experimentelle Ergebnisse der Gestaltpsychologie (pp 23-67), in E Becher
(ed), 10. Kongreßbericht über Experimentelle Psychologie. G Fischer, Jena, 1928
29.Schelling F W J (1799) Einleitung zu dem Entwurf eines Systems der Naturphilosophie
oder über den Begriff der spekulativen Physik und die innere Organisation eines Systems
dieser Wissenschaft, in K F A Schelling (ed.), Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schellings
sämtliche Werke, vol. III, Stuttgart 1856 –1861
30.Tetens H Geist, Gehirn, Maschine. Reclam, Stuttgart, 1994
31.Treder HJ Zur Beweglichkeit des Heisenbergschen Schnittes. Annalen der Physik 1988,
45: 225–256
32.Treder HJ: Brief vom 29.08.1999 an G. Ulrich, Im Spannungsfeld von Aletheia und
Asklepios. Versuch einer Annäherung von Medizin und Physik. Ulrich G, Treder HJ (Hrsg.).
Nexus, Düsseldorf, 2000
33.Turing A: Kann eine Maschine denken. In Enzensberger H M (Hrsg.) Suhrkamp,
Frankfurt a. M., 1967
34.v. Uexküll: J:Bedeutungslehre, Abhandlungen zur theoretischen Biologie und ihrer
Geschichte sowie zur Philosophie der organischen Naturwissenschaften, Bd. X, J A Barth,
Leipzig, 1940
35.Ulrich G: Biomedizin – Die folgenschweren Wandlungen des Biologiebegriffs.
Schattauer, Stuttgart – New York, 1997
36.Ulrich G, Treder H-J Im Spannungsfeld von Aletheia und Asklepios: Versuch einer
Annäherung von Medizin und Physik. Nexus, Düsseldorf, 2000
37.Weizenbaum J: Computer Power and Human Reason. From Judgement to Calculation.
W.H. Freeman & Co 1976
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.