Abstract 摘要

What would a Daoist ethics of human enhancement look like? Can Daoism even entertain such a question given the temporal disparity? In light of the ongoing advancement of biotechnology, the ontological threat awaiting us is all too real. Indeed, the debate surrounding natural versus artificial has long been entrenched in the minds of theologians and philosophers alike; in recent years, however, it has been swept up in the commotion over liberal eugenics. This movement has prompted several prominent figures, such as the philosopher Jurgen Habermas, to interject on the grounds that genetic manipulation erases the distinction between the human and the manufactured. Daoism, in principle, would agree, but for different reasons. This paper shows how Daoism can contribute to Habermas’s social-political opposition to liberal eugenics by offering an onto-cosmological line of defense, as seen in the stories on illness and malformation in the Zhuangzi. While not referring to liberal eugenics per se, these stories argue, as does Habermas, that humans have a beginning to life that is ultimately beyond their control, and to alter this origin is to recast the meaning of selfhood and freedom.