Re: The Extropian Principles

Kurt Rongey (
Sat, 27 Jul 1996 14:01:43 -0500

Max More:
>I worry about looking for simple criteria because I'd rather find ways o=
>*broadening* the appeal of extropian ideas to a wider range of personali=
>types, rather than only seeking those who already think in similar ways.

Robin Hanson:
We have different goals here. I want to find out what we have in
common. If it turns out that most of us (including me) aren't really
attracted to one of your "extropian ideas", then I'm not interested in
trying to broaden the appeal of that idea. =20

Kurt Rongey:
I think what needs to be ascertained here is from whence the term=20
=93extropian=94 and its definition come. If indeed it is an invention
of Max=92s mind, I believe it remains such until he surrenders it=20
voluntarily to a consensus definition.

This is one of the problems of trying to create a movement based=20
on spontaneous order. The very nature of the members is to react=20
against a centralized authority. I think that Max understands this. =20
It=92s a problem in the Libertarian Party as well, which, I think,=20
is a party of anti-partyists and therefore ineffectual. =20

My own reason for being here isn=92t because I=92m desparate to see=20
everyone become an Extropian, or to see Extropians become like=20
me. It is because the ideas make perfect sense to me. I think that=20
Extropian memes, with the possible exception of DO, will make=20
their ways throughout culture with or without help from ExI.

I agree with most of Max=92s ideas, and I believe he puts forth=20
every effort to be rational, open-minded and honest. I don=92t think=20
I can accept pan-critical rationalism, because it still seems vibrantly=20
clear to me that existence exists axiomatically. But this doesn=92t=20
upset any of the rest of the Extropian Priniciples.

Max More:
>... Nor do I think technical understanding will distinguish=20
>proto-extropians from others well, though it will often be a factor=20
>that contributes to extropian sympathies.

Kurt Rongey:
For what it=92s worth, I=92m relatively free of technical understanding=20
of the scientific issues. I spent the first quarter-century of my=20
(eternal) life studying music. Only in the last few years have=20
scientific concerns been of any interest to me. I still don=92t think=20
they=92re absolutely necessary for understanding of and resonance=20
with Extropianism.

Max More:
> EXTROPY -- A measure of intelligence, information, energy, vitality,
> experience, diversity, opportunity, and growth.

Lyle Burkhead:
Measure? in what units? Does this definition really say anything? =20

Kurt Rongey:
True, this does imply some kind of calculable Extropy Average. =20
Perhaps it=92s not so much a definition as a sales pitch for an attitude.=
I accept it as such.

Lyle Burkhead:
Consider the expression "The philosophy that seeks to... " =20

Does this mean that your metaphysics, your ontology, your logic, your=20
philosophy of mind, your ethics, and your aesthetics will be determined=20
by the need to increase the eight quantities that must be increased? =20

Marx said "The point is not to understand the world, but to change it." =20
This puts the cart before the horse. The correct procedure is as
follows: =20
First one uses philosophy to ascertain the nature of the world; *then*=20
one decides what should or should not be done. =20

Kurt Rongey:
I think that you=92re being unfair here. Over and over, Max states that=20
Extropianism is dynamic, not dogmatic. The Extropian philosophy is=20
geared toward encouraging behavior and situations that tend to increase=20
our knowledge of the world and minimizing those that hide it from us. =20
Put another way, an Extropian admits that he is not all-knowing and=20
all-powerful; he actively seeks to rectify that through increasing his=20
own intelligence, information, energy, vitality, experience, diversity,=20
opportunity, and growth. I think that Extropianism succeeds when=20
seen as a catalyst for the individual, and when it is promoted as such. =20
When there is a push to create an Extropian Society (tm), I grow=20

Ben Goertzel:
Extropianism is certainly an interesting philosophy, and I sympathize
strongly with most aspects of it -- this is why I subscribed to
the mailing list.

But I don't get the conceptual connection of Libertarianism with
futuristic technology, complexity theory & spontaneous organization.

Kurt Rongey:
I'm not sure what the consensus opinion is toward Rand on the list,
perhaps it's on the antagonistic side, but it is through reading=20
_The Fountainhead_ and _Atlas Shrugged_ that I acquired a taste=20
for SO and self-determination. Once again, I see Extropianism=20
as a tool for the individual, not as an erector of social=20

Ben Goertzel:
After all, is the State itself not a "spontaneous organization? --
a self-organized structure. The State was not exactly set in place
from the outside, now was it -- it EMERGED, just like thought patterns
in a neural network, just like hexagonal rolls in a Benard cell,
etc. etc.

My belief is that while current government structures are in many ways
too restrictive, libertarianism would ALSO lead to an overly restrictive
system. Free markets don't seem to stay "free" -- they seem to drift
into attractors consisting of MONOPOLIES or OLIGOPOLIES. Look at the
software market, which is a free market, but is dominated by MicroSoft
to everyone's detriment. What is needed is some kind of
of experimentation" -- some kind of overall structure to prevent the
spontaneous emergence of repressive governmental and corporate
IN my opinion. But this is a personal opinion which I do not claim to
have derived from scientific principles, mind you...

I think the question of the optimal social structure is an interesting
one, which is probably explorable by computer simulations along the=20
lines of the commercial SimCity program. =20

Kurt Rongey:
To my mind, this all smacks Plato=92s _Republic_. The point is, I'm
to resist having anybody=92s social structure imposed on me, no matter ho=
well-studied it is. And another thing: Microsoft is not a monopoly. =20
Repeat. Microsoft is not a monopoly. I know, you didn=92t say explicitl=
that it was. I just like to say that :)

Given, saying that something arises from un-spontaneous order is like
asserting that something in the universe is un-natural. Perhaps we
look at Max=92s definition again, which goes beyond the literal meaning=20
of the 2 words:

Max More:
5. Spontaneous Order =97 Supporting decentralized, voluntaristic social
coordination processes. Fostering tolerance, diversity, long-term
personal responsibility, and individual liberty.

Kurt Rongey:
Once again, I think the aim here is to support the elimination of
to individual choice which arise from centralized, entrenched power=20
structures. An individual, if aware of his own worth, will resist these
kinds of structures and will gravitate towards those which propose to
let him retain his autonomy.

Ben Goertzel:
I don't think that it is wise
to link one political persuasion (libertarianism) with hi technology
and freedom, to the exclusion of others. Hasn't complexity science
taught us that things are not this simple??

Kurt Rongey:
I would say that freedom is in fact inextricably linked with political=20
thought. Liberty creates the choices from which we can be =93free=94=20
to choose. The more choices the more freedom. The degree to=20
which liberty is limited is the degree to which choices are limited=20
is the degree to which the individual suffers. The degree to which
the choices of a researcher (vis a vis experimental techniques) is
limited is the degree to which that research is suppressed. Thus
the limitation and hampering of technological progress. If there
is something in complexity theory that challenges these conclusions
of mine, I'd be interested to hear them. At present, I think a=20
barrier is a barrier.

Kurt Rongey =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D