Does There Exist a Need for a ‘New’ Educational Ideal of Rationality? The Crossroads between Transhumanism and Israel Scheffler’s Conception of Critical Thinking


  • Paloma Castillo Complutense University of Madrid



Transhumanism, Critical thinking, Moral-rational, Educational aims, Analytical philosophy of education


This article reflects on whether today, there is a need for a ‘new’ educational ideal of rationality. To articulate that objective, a critical analysis is made of the pedagogical ideas underlying two conflicting trends: transhumanism and critical thinking. First, the distinctive identity of the transhumanist philosophical movement is examined in terms of its partial ascription to, and, given its attempts to overcome it, its renunciation of Humanism. In the face of the apparent promises and pitfalls that techno-science portends for pedagogical discourse, a distrust of reason is imminent. Contrary to such an assumption, critical thinking, as the embodiment of rationality in Israel Scheffler’s conception, illuminates the inconsistencies of scientific imperialism that conceal the moral-rational aspects of teaching. In view of the above, the discussion focuses on the relationship between theory and practice, justification and commitment, fallibility and wisdom; in short, between the moral and the rational of any educational ideal to be proposed.


Allhoff, F., Lin, P., Moor, J., & Weckert, J. (2010). Ethics of Human Enhancement: 25 Questions & Answers. Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology, 4(1), 1–39.

Álvarez-Díaz, J. A. (2013). Neuroética como neurociencia de la ética [Neuroethics as the neuroscience of ethics]. Revista de Neurología, 57(8), 374–382.

Ayer, A. J. (1971). Language, Truth and Logic. London: Penguin Books. (Original work published 1936).

Bauman, Z. (2009). Education in the Liquid-Modern Setting. Power and Education, 1(2), 157–166.

Bostrom, N. (2003a). Human Genetic Enhancements: A Transhumanist Perspective. The Journal of Value Inquiry, 37, 493–506.

Bostrom, N. (2003b). The Transhumanist FAQ: A General Introduction. Retrieved July 6, 2022 from

Bostrom, N. (2005). A History of Transhumanist Thought. Journal of Evolution and Technology, 14(1), 1–25.

Bostrom, N., Baily D., Sandberg, A., Alves, G., More, M., Wagner, H., Vita-More, N., Leitl, E., Staring, B, Pearce D., Fantegrossi, B., Den, O., Fletcher, R., Morrow, T., Chislenko A., Crocker Lee, D., Reynolds, D., Elis, K., Quinn, T., … Spaulding S. (2009). The Transhumanist Declaration. Retrieved March 29, 2022 from

Coenen, C., Schuijff, M., Smits, M., Klaassen, P., Hennen, L., Rader, M., & Wolbring, G. (2009). Human Enhancement: Study (KITopen-ID: 1000125180). Science and Technology Option Assessment (European Parliament).

Cortina, A. (2022). Los desafíos éticos del transhumanismo [The ethical challenges of transhumanism]. Pensamiento. Revista de Investigación e Información Filosófica, 78(298), 471–483.

Descartes, R. (1982). Principles of Philosophy (V. Rodger Miller & R. P. Miller , Trans.). Kluwer Academic Publishers. (Original work published 1644).

Elgin, C. Z. (1993). Scheffler’s Symbols. Synthese, 94(1), 3–12.

Gil Cantero, F. (2022). La Pedagogía ante el desfase prometeico del transhumanismo [Pedagogy in the face of the Promethean gap in transhumanism]. Revista de Educación, (396), 11–33.

Giroux, H. A. (with P. Freire). (2001). Theory and Resistance in Education: Towards a Pedagogy for the Opposition. Westport: Bergin & Garvey. (Original work published 1983).

Habermas, J. (1984). The Theory of Communicative Action: Reason and the Rationalization of Society (Vol. 1) (T. McCarthy, Trans.). Boston: Beacon Press. (Original work published 1981).

Horkheimer, M. (2012). Critique of Instrumental Reason (M. J. O’Connell, Trans.). London: Verso. (Original work published 1967).

Hottois, G. (2013). Humanismo, Transhumanismo, Posthumanismo [Humanism, Transhumanism, Posthumanism]. Revista Colombiana de Bioética, 8(2), p. 167–192.

Huxley, J. (1923). Essays of a Biologist. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Huxley, J. (1957). New Bottles for New Wine. London: Chatto & Windus.

Huxley, J. (1957). Religion Without Revelation (rev. ed.). New York and London: Harper. (Original work published 1927).

Jover, G., Gozálvez, V., & Prieto, M. (2017). Una filosofía de la educación del siglo XXI [A philosophy of education in the 21st century]. Madrid: Síntesis.

Kant, I. (1900). Kant on Education (A. Churton, Trans.). Boston: Heath & Co. Publishers. (Original work published 1803).

Kant, I. (1996). An answer to the question: What is enlightenment? (1784). In M. J. Gregor (Ed.), Practical Philosophy: The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant (pp. 11–22). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kant, I. (1998). Critique of Pure Reason (P. Guyer & A. W. Wood, Trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Original work published 1781).

Kant, I. (2015). Critique of Practical Reason (M. Gregor, Trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Original work published 1788).

Kurtz, P. (1994). Living Without Religion: Eupraxophy. New York: Prometheus Books. (Original work published 1989).

Kurzweil, R. (2005). The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. London: Penguin Group.

Lipowicz, M. (2019). Overcoming Transhumanism: Education or Enhancement Towards the Overhuman? Journal of Philosophy of Education, 53(1), 200–213.

Martínez Díez, F. (2021). Humanos, sencillamente humanos: Desafíos del transhumanismo [Humans, simply humans: Challenges of transhumanism]. Madrid: San Pablo.

Mill, J. S. (2001). Utilitarianism. Canada: Batoche Books. (Original work published 1863).

Mora, F, (2015). Neuroculture: A New Cultural Revolution?. In J. P. Huston, M. Nadal, F. Mora, L. F. Agnati, & C. J. Cela-Conde (Eds.), Art, Aesthetics, and the Brain (pp. 3–18). New York: Oxford University Press.

More, M. (1990). Transhumanism: Towards a Futurist Philosophy. Extropy, 6, 6–12.

More, M. (1998). The Extropian Principles (version 3.0). Retrieved April 29, 2022 from

More, M. (2013). The Philosophy of Transhumanism. In M. More & N. Vita-More (Eds.), The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future (pp. 3–17). United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons.

Neiman, A., & Siegel, H. (1993). Objectivity and Rationality in Epistemology and Education: Scheffler’s Middle Road. Synthese, 94(1), 55–83.

Nietzsche, F. (2006). Thus Spoke Zarathustra (A. Del Caro, Trans.). New York: Cambridge University Press. (Original work published in 1883).

Pallarés-Domínguez, D. (2021). La reflexión crítica sobre los neuromitos en la educación [The Critical Reflection of Neuromyths in Education]. Teoría de la Educación. Revista Interuniversitaria, 33(2), 87–106.

Peters, R. S. (2015). Psychology and Ethical Development: A Collection of Articles on Psychological Theories, Ethical Development and Human. New York: Routledge Revivals. (Original work published 1974).

Russell, B. (1956). Portraits From Memory: And Other Essays. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Sandberg, A. (2015). Transhumanism and the Meaning of Life. In C. Mercer, & T. J. Trothen, (Eds.), Religion and Transhumanism: The Unknown Future of Human Enhancement (pp. 3–22). California: Praeger.

Scheffler, I. (1954). On Justification and Commitment. The Journal of Philosophy, 51(6), 180–190.

Scheffler, I. (1965). Conditions of Knowledge: An Introduction to Epistemology and Education. Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Company.

Scheffler, I. (1982). Science and Subjectivity (2nd ed.). Indiana: Hackett Publishing Company. (Original work published 1966).

Scheffler, I. (1986). Computers at school? Teachers College Record, 87(4), 513–528.

Scheffler, I. (1989). Vice into Virtue, or Seven Deadly Sins of Education Redeemed. Teachers College Record, 91(2), 177–189.

Scheffler, I. (1994). La educación judía: tareas y perspectivas [Jewish Education: Tasks and Perspectives] (Trad. C. Soriano). Maj`Shavot / Pensamientos, 33(1), 43–48.

Scheffler, I. (1999). A Plea for Plurealism. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, 35(3), 425–436.

Scheffler, I. (2010). Of Human Potential: An Essay in the Philosophy of Education. New York: Routledge Revivals. (Original work published 1985).

Scheffler, I. (2014). Reason and Teaching. New York: Routledge Revivals. (Original work published 1973).

Siegel, H. (1989). Why be Rational? On Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking. Institute for Critical Thinking. Retrieved July 29, 2022 from

Straehle Porras, E. (2013). En busca de un fundamento crítico y social de la moral desde una perspectiva neurocientífica [In search of a critical and social foundation of moral from a neuroscientific approach]. Recerca: Revista de Pensament i Anàlisi, (13), 103–120.

Vidal, F., & Ortega, F. (2017). Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject. New York: Fordham University Press.

Vila Merino, E. S. (2011). Racionalidad, diálogo y acción: Habermas y la pedagogía crítica [Rationality, dialogue and action: Habermas and critical pedagogy]. Revista Iberoamericana de Educación, 56(3), 1–15.

Vita-More, N. (2019). History of Transhumanism. In N. Lee (Ed.), The Transhumanism Handbook (pp. 49–62). Los Angeles: Springer.

Vita-More, N. (2020). Transhuman Manifesto. Retrieved July 18, 2022 from




How to Cite

Castillo, P. (2023). Does There Exist a Need for a ‘New’ Educational Ideal of Rationality? The Crossroads between Transhumanism and Israel Scheffler’s Conception of Critical Thinking. Encyclopaideia, 27(66), 49–61.