I was browsing the backlog of letters and came across yours. Regarding your
request for book recommendations, two come immediately to mind:
The Future and its Enemies, by Virginia Postrel, editor of Reason magazine.
She divides the political world in an interesting way-stasists vs.
dynamists. The stasists come in two varieties, reactionaries and
technocrats. These might seem to be strange ideological bedfellows, but what
they have in common is fear of freedom. As I was reading her book I couldn't
help thinking of Stuart Kauffman's books (so I have three authors, not two):
The Origins of Order: Self Organization and Selection in Evolution (rather
technical) and At Home in the Universe: the Search for the Laws of
Self-Organization and Complexity. Kauffman analyzes systems. He finds
'creativity' maximized at 'the edge of chaos': a balance point in systems
between stasis and chaos. I would love to read an in-depth dialogue between
the politically focussed Postrel and Kauffman, the mathematician and systems
analyst. I think something productive could come out of that.
The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes-and its
Implications, by David Deutsch (a major contributor to the development of
the theory of quantum computation). This book is the ultimate 'adventure of
the mind'. Deutsch believes strongly that the point and purpose of science
is not prediction, but understanding, and he develops a strong case against
instrumentalism, the view that we should be satisfied with the world as
black box, as long as we can correlate inputs and outputs correctly. Chapter
two, entitled 'Shadows' develops a compelling case for the reality of
parallel universes without mentioning quantum mechanics in the argument. He
identifies four main strands of explanation whose interwoven fabric provides
a basis for understanding the world: quantum physics, epistemology, the
theory of computation, and the theory of evolution. I read this book
straight through twice when I came across it last year and I'm rereading it
a third time to try to internalize what he has to say.
Hope you try them and enjoy them,
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On
Behalf Of Renee Chantrill-Paul
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 1999 11:55 PM
Subject: Fresh Meat
I recently signed into the extropian mailing list a few weeks ago and have
been sifting through your abundant correspondances. I found it amusing how
some people commented on the "anger" or "aggressiveness" of this list.
I say, "AAAHHHH they're alive!!!"
Be angry, be passionate, be compassionate also over another viewpoint. After
all people that touch your life will either reaffirm your convictions or
change them. The path to intellectual "truth" (which I have purposely
encased in quotations, is to remark that what "truth" is is exclusively the
given individual's perception of what it is) means you may build on a
hypothesis then par hassard, be forced to tear that investment down in order
to construct a more solid one. Ah there is such expenses involved....but the
next will be even better, stronger in your life's goal.
Finding intellectual "truth" may also be attributed to making an honest try
at being objective in cultivating ones interests.
How to be objective? One example is living in foreign countries (I spent 3
years in Paris) and have regular daily contact with the native people. One
realizes by discovery that while learning about this foriegn country, you
are learning even more about your own (through cultural comparison and the
natives' perception of your home country).
With that being said, I would like to comment on this education issue that
seems to be maintaining a lively dialogue. To address the point of religion
in schools- I read the Kansas resolution and to say the least, was chilled
to the bone--I feel as many others, that it has no place there as per
Church is free and abundant in the USA with 40% of the nation paying their
respects at least once a week. And as far as their children getting
religious education-- don't they have Sunday SCHOOL programs at church?
If religious folks want religion in school, to be fair all religions should
be taught with equal attention to the subject, theology, to give all its
honest due and as a subject to be studied not narrow-mindedly indoctrinated.
(perhaps the Christian Coalition would not have this *quite* in mind.
I wouldn't actually mind it being taught in a manner taken for the ancient
religions and religious dieties; (i.e. the Egyptian/Greek/Roman Gods) as
myth with historical importance.
I would also like to comment on the "reducing sex drive" issue. Before that
I should mention that I am a feminist. Wait don't sigh...I'm not one of
those WASPy girls that are as much in touch with reality as our fairy tale
maiden with the long red hair in a certain tower. I'm a
Camille-Paglia-let's- be- real-
-!!!!-!!! kind of feminist.
It may be dangerous, volitale, but it's also the woman's "ace in the hole".
Men do "strange things" that go not only against their intellectual but
biological nature as well. They assist in raising children, work extremely
hard on their career (often something they may not enjoy) and live peaceably
in a society.
If they don't their fundamental urges are denied. ANyone ever seen the movie
"Trading Places", where Eddie Murphy says, "I lost my job, my wife won't
make love to me no more"? hmmmmm.
The male sex drive indirectly does alot of good for women (besides the
obvious direct part). If we diminished it we would loose the female power to
bend men to the will of women. (which fundamentally is bearing and nuturing
children to adulthood). Occasional anti-societal manifestations, I believe,
are a small price to pay for the overall benefits. I say, hail
testosterone!! Keep it going until the last man has transfered his mind into
his nano-immortality machine....
Once we have reached voluntary immortality. Sex will no longer be an issue
anyway, right? Could loosing the sexual interest mean to loose the interest
to think and be our clever pre-transhuman selves? I think not. We could
loose the interest in sex simply through lack of hormones, but thinking is
so fundamentally tied to the conscious mind that it may be happy to plod
along ad infinitum learning its fancies. Those who loose interest could
always "unplug" themselves.
Before everyone nods off, I want to mention some of my favorite authors and
would like to hear of any recommendations. Matt Ridley, Richard Dawkins (I
noticed others share my interest there). ALso Carl Djerassi for his
science-in-fiction novels--lots of fun. For real feminism (not
-nazism)Camille Paglia. Political freshness??, Aldous Huxley (no not just
"Brave New World").
In further regard to Huxley's novels: One can learn alot more from ficitious
dinner parties in the 1920s then through political debates on television
today. It was a time of hope, worry, and major political turmoil. The mixing
of many intellectual minds and their repsective political parties. A period
on the brink of National Socialism that fell on the Industrialized world. As
we move into the new century/millineum this grey cloud still looms over
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