Re: Transhumanist Declaration (Now New And Improved!)

Reilly Jones (Reilly@compuserve.com)
Sat, 11 Apr 1998 12:19:38 -0400


otter@globalxs.nl wrote 4/11/98: <Btw, suggestions for a better sounding
name are welcome; "Enlightened Rationalism" is too long and sounds too
pompous-a__ed.>

A recap of the description you gave:

<What it all boils down to is that any rational person... will use any
means that are available to him to reach his goals. Sometimes his actions
will benefit others, sometimes they will be neutral, and sometimes people
will get hurt.>

No rationality is used in setting goals, only morality. Rationality sifts
through various means to various goals in the process of choosing a goal,
but is silent over the actual final choice of a goal. It is akin to the
difference between effectiveness and efficiency. Means are always
important because private virtues develop public virtues, which facilitates
the achievement of great aims, while private vices develop public vices,
which facilitates slop.

<A rational person will recognize that most ethics and morals are nothing
but artificial (extra) burdens on the way to ascension. Life is difficult
enough as it is. Castigating yourself with piontless self-imposed rules and

regulations is pure S&M.>

Rational individuals do, in fact, use induction, they do not merely drift
on the waves of infantile desire. They see that adherence to variations of
morals lead to variations of consequences, some good and some bad. Some
morals are inductively superior to other morals, if the presupposition is
made that "life is good." The ability to develop self-discipline is one of
the key capacities that distinguishes homo sapiens from the amoeba.

<But, unlike many less user friendly philosophies Enlightened Rationalism
(TM)* does not forbid the use of force, including the use of force "just
for fun". It just says "keep an eye on the consequences", which is, wel...
rational. So if you feel like it, and think that you can get away with
it... by all means go ahead!>

Past adherents of E.R. would include Pol Pot, Attila the Hun, Mao Tse Tung,
Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Genghis Khan, V.I. Lenin... A "nice" crowd,
all very successful, all very happy with their consequences, very rational.

<After all, most problems are caused by ridiculous, sanctimonious rules and
standards, and people not being able to live up to them an getting
frustrated because of it. Setting the morals too high only breeds
corruption, lies and blackmail, and sooner or later those who helped to
perpetuate the system will be eaten by it themselves.>

Obviously, someone has offended you somewhere along the line by expecting a
standard of conduct from you that you couldn't live up to without
sacrificing your adolescent worship of the desire of the moment. The
record of history shows that corruption, lies and blackmail always result
from a lowering of moral standards, never from an elevating of them. It is
irrational to ignore the historical record. Frustration over not being
able to live up to a high standard is adolescent, it is stereotypical of
the spoiled-child syndrome. It is caused by an abrogation of parental
authority, i.e., decadent children come from corrupt parents.

<For example, E.R. is neutral on the issues of increasing diversity and
being "life promoting". These are matters of individual choice and depend
on the situation.>

If E.R. cannot bring itself to incorporate the metaphysical presupposition
that "life is good" then it is death-worship. There is no neutrality on
this question, the default is always to entropy.

In summary, it sounds like E.R. is merely license for a bunch of adolescent
Uzi-toting street-corner ‹bermensch out for a joy-ride using up the moral
capital stored up in previous generations by the prey around them. I
suggest, instead of "Enlightened Rationalism", the more honest "Sophomoric
Parasitism".

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Reilly Jones | Philosophy of Technology:
Reilly@compuserve.com | The rational, moral and political relations
| between 'How we create' and 'Why we create'