Re: Transhumanist Principles

Anders Sandberg (
07 Apr 1998 09:58:08 +0200

Yak Wax <> writes:

> I think transhumanism needs only one principle:
> To transcend every boundary that defines 'human.'
> I see no reason to state "why" or "how" you're transcending, and
> stating "who" will transcend is nothing short of elitist. The less
> you state as principle the more people you welcome and the less likely
> you are to offend any existing transhumanists.

Are the scientologists transhumanists? They would be according to the
above definition since they want to become 'active thetans' or

It is nice with very broad definitions, but definitions can become so
broad they are useless or loose important points. The above definition
cannot distinguish transhumanism as it is discussed on this list from
(say) gnosticism or the ideas of taoism. I think it is a mistake to
ignore the "how", since it has many very important consequences, and
in the case of transhumanism the distinguishing factor from general
transcendentalism (or whatever to call it, is there a standard name
for the idea?) is the "how" - we believe it can be achieved through
reason and technology (not necessarily *only* through reason and
technology, but they provide a possible path).

My current definition of transhumanism is: "The idea that the human
condition can be improved above and beyond the current stage, through
rational means in a life affirming way".

I have begun work on a webpage (unfortunately in Swedish right now)
tracing the history and philosophy of transhumanism, and I argue there
that modern transhumanism has three "parents": transcendentalism
(becoming more than humans), humanism (putting an emphasis on human
matters, freedom and reason) and the technism of the enlightenment
(using science and technology to improve things, guided by reason). We
have inherited many memes from each, and the result is a synthesis
that isn't similar to any of them. Unlike the transcendentalists we
embrace reason and technology for change, unlike the humanists we
think the human condition can be fundamentally changed and unlike some
of the techists we appreciate the sensual aspects of life and the
possibility of using self-organization instead of rigid planning for
some systems.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y