Questioning the parameters of being human and the relationship with nature have been of philosophical interest before and since Socrates. Questioning the future of the human brings to light moral, religious and philosophical belief systems and, especially, ethical concerns regarding tampering with nature and what is considered by many, especially in western culture, to be natural.
The etymology of the term "transhuman" goes back to futurist FM-2030 (born Fereidoun M. Esfandiary) who, while teaching new concepts of the human at The New School university in 1966, introduced it as shorthand for "transitory human". Calling transhumans the "earliest manifestation of new evolutionary beings," FM argued that signs of transhumans included physical and mental augmentations including prostheses, reconstructive surgery, intensive use of telecommunications, a cosmopolitan outlook and a globetrotting lifestyle, androgyny, mediated reproduction (such as in vitro fertilisation), absence of religious beliefs, and a rejection of traditional family values.
The concept of transhuman, as an evolutionary transition, was first expressed by FM-2030 outside the confines of academia in his contributing final chapter to the 1972 anthology Woman, Year 2000. In the same year, Robert Ettinger contributed to conceptualization of "transhumanity" in his book Man into Superman. In 1982, Natasha Vita-More authored the Transhuman Manifesto 1982: Transhumanist Arts Statement and outlined what she perceived as an emerging transhuman culture.
Many thinkers today do not consider FM-2030's characteristics to be essential attributes of a transhuman. However, analyzing the possible transitional nature of the human species has been and continues to be of primary interest to anthropologists and philosophers within and outside the intellectual movement of transhumanism.
In March 2007, Gregory Cochran of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, and John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison published a study, alongside other recent research on which it builds, which amounts to a radical reappraisal of traditional views, which tended to assume that humans have reached an evolutionary endpoint. Jeffrey McKee of the Ohio State University said the new findings of accelerated evolution bear out predictions he made in a 2000 book The Riddled Chain. Based on computer models, he argued that evolution should speed up as a population grows because population growth creates more opportunities for new mutations; and the expanded population occupies new environmental niches, which would drive evolution in new directions. Whatever the implications of the recent findings, McKee concludes that they highlight a ubiquitous point about evolution: “every species is a transitional species.”
- FM-2030 (1989). Are You a Transhuman?: Monitoring and Stimulating Your Personal Rate of Growth in a Rapidly Changing World. Viking Adult. ISBN 0-446-38806-8.
- More, Max (1999). "Letter to Mother Nature". Retrieved on 2007-02-16.
- Vita-More, Natasha (2000). "FM-2030 One of the Spearheading Transhumanists". Retrieved on 2007-02-16.
- Ettinger, Robert (1974). Man into Superman. Avon. ISBN 0-380-00047-4. http://www.cryonics.org/book2.html.
- Vita-More, Natasha (1982; revised 2003). "Tranhumanist Arts Statement". Retrieved on 2006-02-16.
- Bostrom, Nick (2002-2005). "The Transhumanist FAQ" (PDF). World Transhumanist Association. Retrieved on 2006-08-27.
- (2007-03-27). "Human evolution, radically reappraised". World Science. Retrieved on 2007-04-03.