Re: RELIGION: The meaning of Life

Gregory Houston (
Wed, 12 Feb 1997 19:23:49 -0600

My apologies. I accidentally hit the "Send" button on this before it was
finished. I may or may not have stopped it before it was sent. If you
have read the beginning of this Email already, plese scroll down to the
"------------". This is the point I was at when the mishap occurred. I
think I stopped it though.

Max More wrote:

> You might read Karl Popper or W.W. Bartley III on this, or a shorter
> version: my EXTRO 1 essay "Pancritical Rationalism: An Extropic Metacontext
> for Memetic Progress: which is on the web at:

"Nothing gets justified...everything get criticized." [Bartley, 112]

Pure Rationality seems to have become the ontotheological god or
absolute of Pancritical Rationalism (PCR). This Rationality can be
criticized, but it must be criticized with Rationality. Is this not
circular? PCR seems to be yet another failed attempt at removing the
authority, the authority being attenutauted very well in most areas, but
then magnified and exalted in Rationality.

"By replacing justificationism with fallibilism, and by encouraging the
practice of opening to, welcoming, and respecting criticism,
pancritical rationalism maximizes the pursuit of truth [...]" [More]

What is truth? It will take some effort to convice me that truth is not
a religious concept. This is another exogenous sublimation of god. I
don't think science can say anything about truth. You said, "nothing is
*provable* in science, only refutable". Is truth refutable? How do we
know that in our pursuit for truth that we have attained it or not? I
see a disparancy here between your thought and that of PCR. To overcome
authority, as PCR attempts to do, I think you might have to replace
"truth" with something like "the next most functional", or "the next
most useful". Sure, this is only a further sublimation, but at least it
is something science can actually deal with. Science is about
prediction, the terms it uses to create theories of prediction are just
as fanciful as those of any mythology. The terms of science do not
necessarily exist, but that does not matter. What matters is, does any
particular scientific theory allow us to predict something, and is there
a competing theory which more accurately predicts the same. We cannot
attain truth or meaning from science. Rationality is the almighty tool
for developing theories of prediction, but we cannot attain truth or
meaning from rationality. I point out your desire for truth as an
inconsistancy in your system. Fortunately the extropian system is "open"
to revision. Though rationality is certainly not inconsistent with your
system, I am going to attempt to criticize it while showing how it could
be augmented with other modalities of consciousness.


"This optimism [Dynamic Optimism] is dynamic since it rejects any form
of passive faith." [More]

Dynamic Optimism is the same as dynamic faith. Where exoteric religion
tends to be biased towards passive faith, esoteric religion certainly is

"Contrary to faith, dynamic optimism recommends experimentation to
uncover the truth" [More]

How would esoteric religion have ever developed without embracing

Max More wrote:

> I understand why you would say this, but whenever I hear this view it makes
> me choke! Confusing the boundaries of religion and science only plays into
> the hands of those who want to maintain their irrational approaches to
> thinking.

Are those boundaries absolute? Is there a dogmatic and unquestionable
boundary separating religion and science? Is it really that black and
white? In your article on PCR you criticized Rand for sharply defining
everything as black and white. This was in a different context, but does
that criticism not hold here?

Lets take "artificial intelligence". There is a definite bias here for
intelligence. "Cognitive science" has the same bias. Perhaps artificial
consciousness would be better, for consciousness is certainly more than
intelligence alone. Is intelligence anything more than refined, highly
articulated emotion?

emotive --> intuitive --> cognitive
subtle --> highly articulated

How are we going to create something intelligent when we are not
starting with the basics? We should be more concerned with making
something feel need and desire before we attempt to make something

What is science fiction? Science fiction tends to inform this Elist a
great deal. We quote people such as William Gibson as if they were
authorities on science, when they are more like religious shamans and
their stories are more like religious mythology; modern mythology. This
sort of writing is often apcolyptical, or utopian. But what I like most
about it is its focus on need and desire. Science fiction tends to be
about either what we want to attain, or what we ought to avoid. Its not
about truth. I feel that science fiction is an actual field of science,
a field which ought to be further embraced and explored. It removes our
focus from epistemological truth, and returns it to the emotions, to
need and desire. Truth is of little importance. Effectivenes and
functionality our much more important. Truth won't help me overcome my
needs and attain my desires. I have no desire to attain truth. Its a
worthless ontotheological concept to me. And again, this doesn't hurt
science, because science is not even capable of speaking about truth.
Science fiction helps us open our minds to potential where science
without Science fiction is dead. Is imagination a rational mode of
thought. I don't think so. Where would science be without imagination,
yet science denies the use of it. Without imagination, intuition, and
emotive passion, we would not have genius, but these things science
refuses to incorporate. It pretends not to employ them. A scientist must
be obsessively passionate, but his sciences itself is completely lacking
in passion.

Lets look at the objective bias of science. This bias has left us wholly
ignorant of our own endogenous realities. This is a real problem of
science. It is wholly focused on the other, on the object, on the
external. Here is where science could recursively learn something from
religion. How can we create a new science which allows us to talk about
endogenous worlds? The first thing it would have to do is to find a way
to embrace emotion. Science attempts to speak about emotions but its not
emotive. Science is cognitive and as such is only able to penetrate
matters of a cognitive nature.

Our education today is almost completely cognitive. But we do not have
the maturity to deal with the knowledge and technology we have created
via our intensive cognitive education. We need an emotive education to
balance our cognitive education. Memetics is perhaps a small step in
this direction. It amazes me how few people take responsibility for
their emotions. People are constantly offended and embarrassed by my
discussions with them. Thus they lose control of their emotions before
we can reach any depth of meaning. If we taught people how to take
responsibility for their emotions in school, this problem would be
greatly attentuated. Education would be *more effective* augmented with
emotive education. We need to teach people not to give others power of
their emotions so easily. I should not be able to embarass someone I
have only met 10 minutes ago. We need to become familiar with the
subtleties of the emotive so that we can use it to empower and impassion
our reason.

I think this has a great deal to do with the lack of genius in our
society. People lack emotive and intuitive discipline. Still, I am not
confessing to know how these things could be synergized with science,
but I can see very clearly the effect of their repression. Science is
still lacking in many ways.

> No, religion is definitely not the foundation of science, and faith has no
> role in science.

That doesn't sound like a statement that can be criticized. Very
dogmatic, but I believe I have done so above.

I am impressed with the Extropian involvement in politics. This seems to
help bridge the gap between science and politics. I believe this is a
step in the right direction. By assimilating them they can work together
and not against each other. Perhaps that is not the intention, but by
bringing a particular kind of science and a particular kind of politics
together under the umbrella of extropy you have created some sort of
isomorphism between them. I would like to see this same sort of
isomorphism begin between the cognitive, the intuitive, and the emotive.
Truely I believe this will only propel science further.

Though you may feel like "choking" while reading my posts, I certainly
appreciate your criticism. A lot of science is about taking risks. I am
taking the risk of exploring this idea to see if there is anything to
it. Perhaps not, but if there is it will certainly develop and become
more refined with time. I am not suggesting a return to primitive
concepts and modalities of consciousness, but rather a recursive and
transcending re-assimilation of them. We have greatly refined
rationalization, but its not enough. Just like an AI cannot understand
analogies, if we were merely rational neither would we. We are able to
understand obscure and poetic analogies because our memory makes
irrational associations based on feelings, emotions, and patterns of
sensation, as well as rational associations.


Gregory Houston