- "Fourthly, the West has lost its purpose because the modern project is without direction. In the beginning, the modern project was directed to the relief of man's estate. It therefore presupposed that man has a nature with given needs, the satisfaction of which gives the modern project its rationale. However, the conquest of nature led to the conquest of human nature, and this undermined the assumption which gave the conquest its goal, and which also sets limits to the modern project. Once human nature is regarded as part of the nature to be conquered, 'the natural needs of men could no longer direct the conquest'. Recent debates on genetic engineering are an excellent example of the aimlessness to which Strauss points." (Drury, The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss.)
Human beings can contract pneumonia. In the beginning, the modern project would, among other things, concern itself with curing pneumonia and preventing people from contracting it. However, what if we could, by means of genetic engineering, change human nature so that it's impossible for human beings to contract pneumonia? But then, why shouldn't we change human nature so that it's impossible for human beings to desire to conquer nature? That would end the conquest of nature just as surely as the completion of that conquest would. We can either change non-human nature so as to suit our needs, or change human nature so as to no longer have those needs. To take this to the extreme: the complete extermination of the human race would end its suffering just as surely as its perfect happiness would. So as soon as people start conquering human nature, all fences are down.
Now this is taking it into the extreme--if not into the absurd. Obviously, the conquest of human nature is not directionless. Actually, it is for the sake of a certain part of human nature that other parts of human nature are being conquered. In fact, it was also that part, and not the whole of human nature, for whose sake the conquest of non-human nature was promoted in the first place. It is what Nietzsche would call the human, all too human part or the herd animal part. In other words, the "humanist" part.
Now a humanism worthy of the name could of course not be concerned solely with a part of human nature, but would have to be concerned with the whole of human nature, including its beast of prey part. Any "humanism" that seeks to conquer part of human nature for the sake of another part is by that token already transhumanism. A humanism worthy of the name must be a superhumanism, in the Nietzschean sense: concerning itself with the full human being, including its terrifying and questionable aspects.
To this end, it is necessary to affirm eternal return. For the only way to assign binding limits to modernity's conquest of nature is, paradoxically, to will its eternal return. After all, anything less than its absolute affirmation would be a saying Nay against it, and thereby itself a call to conquer nature: for modernity's conquest of nature arises "naturally" from the nature of human herd animals. Indeed, modernity's conquest of nature is essentially the conquest of the nature of nature, which is conquest... A "war to end all wars"!