Morphological Freedom Is Everyone’s Civil Right

My following article below was originally published by SERIOUS WONDER:

ed. note: The subject of this article, Jasmine Tridevil, has been recognized as a fraud since she made the airwaves with her third-breast-prosthesis last month. 

Morphological Freedom

“We face an open-ended future looming large with potential for defining and transforming ourselves to an extent unthinkable in all past human history.” – Max More, “Technological Self-Transformation

The time is right, I believe, that we all start talking about what has become a fundamental tenet to the Transhumanist movement: Morphological Freedom. Coined in 1993 by Transhumanist philosopher Max More, who is now the President and CEO of cryonics facility Alcor, what this term basically entails is:

A civil right to each individual to either maintain their original biological form or to modify their body however they so wish, so long their means of doing so doesn’t harm other individuals.

Jasmine Tridevil Morphological FreedomThe reason I mention Morphological Freedom right now is due to a recent story yesterday, which has made its way to all corners of media airwaves and flooded the social networks – the woman who supposedly surgically attached a third breast to herself, with the help of an anonymous surgeon. The picture of this woman is shown to the right.

The woman’s name – again, supposedly, seeing as how she could be making all of this up – is Jasmine Tridevil, and claims to be a massage therapist in the U.S. Her reasons for doing this were to make herself unattractive to men, because, according to her, she no longer wishes to date them. While many may find this answer unappealing and hard to believe, in all actuality her reasoning should be completely irrelevant to you. What should be relevant is, if her modifications are real:

    1. Did she modify herself at her own free will?
    2. Was the person who helped modify her willing to perform the procedure? and
    3. Has the means of modifying, and the modification itself, harmed anyone in the process?

If the answers to these questions are ‘yes, yes, and no,’ then everything else about her and her modifications should be irrelevant in your analysis. Yes, you’re of the right to an opinion about her and her modifications, but one shouldn’t treat it as anything else but an opinion. The reason I say this is because she isn’t the first person to go through extreme modifications, and she won’t be the last either. She is merely the beginning.

morph slide

The performance artist Stelarc comes to mind in regards to previously attempted extreme modifications. His art piece of having an ear surgically attached to his arm was quite controversial, but it’s no less his right to do so as it is for someone to have their bodies covered in tattoos and/or piercings. So long their modifications are achieved willingly and don’t harm other people, they are adhering to their own right of Morphological Freedom.

Soon enough more and more people will be expressing their rights to Morphological Freedom in extreme ways. They’ll be achieved via plastic surgery, cybernetics, and so on. They won’t all be Cyborgs, as others may wish to enhance themselves in more “organic” ways, as displayed by Ms. Tridevil. After all, enhancements and modifications are merely an individual’s means of expressing their self. Forcing someone to not express themselves, or to downgrade them for willingly and openly doing so, would come as a great disservice to our ever-expanding species.

You may not realize it now, but those people who are verbally attacking Ms. Tridevil and express authoritarian sentiments to tell her what she can and cannot do with her own body, are the very same people who’ll be at the frontlines of a Neo-Luddite rebellion against our Transhuman future. Legitimizing their primitivist arguments will only result in our own downfall. We mustn’t allow that to happen.

“Authoritarian personalities, like authoritarian governments, cannot bear disagreement, uncertainty, or alternatives. They demand allegiance to a single goal, a single method, a single agency. Living extropically calls on us to develop and sustain the contrary ability to welcome alternatives, to encourage diversity of opinion, and to thrive on uncertainty. Only the ability to remain open to new information and evidence will be effective in our pursuit of self-transformation.” – Max More

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Max More says:

    Yes, it’s crucial that we establish and defend the principle of morphological freedom now. It will be tested in ever more exotic ways in the future. Some of the ways in which people will make use of the principle will be silly fads, but some will probably be adopted as sensible, useful modifications.

    Nice to see you quote me favorably on openness to uncertainty – it puts the lie to Dale Carrico blog post yesterday where he tried to portray me as so certain of everything. That’s despite my Singularity skepticism, my frequent qualifications and warnings of deep uncertainty about the future, and my advocacy of pancritical rationalism. I appreciate your counterpoint.

    –Max

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