Re: meaning of life

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Thu Jan 25 2001 - 11:31:51 MST

On Thu, Jan 25, 2001 at 11:38:23AM -0500, Michael Lorrey wrote:
> ..... What she is saying is that man naturally evolved to
> behave as he is, and because of this evolved behavior (and the genes
> they derive from), there is an 'optimum' set of rules for living that
> produce the maximum happiness for the maximum possible number of people.

Err. As stated, I don't agree with this position. (But you knew that
already, didn't you? ;-)

Reasons why I disagree: (pace Richard Dawkins) evolution of the human
genome stopped around the time we began to express the capability to
inherit and pass on acquired behavioural traits. Raw evolutionary
selection pressure doesn't work the same way on a species that posesses
language. We're generalists, distinguished from other species by our
astonishing plasticity of behaviour: as witness the conditions we live
under today, compared to those our ancestors evolved under.

(In my case: sitting in front of a computer, in a dwelling in a sub-
arctic city, doing brain-work -- as compared to being a plains-based
tribal scavenger in sub-Saharan Africa. If I had to behave in accordance
with my evolutionary heritage in order to be happy, I ought to be very
UN-happy right now. But I'm not.)

Moreover, I find the idea that we should follow an 'optimum' set of rules
because we evolved that way morally abhorrent. You do realise that this
is the root of the argument deployed by various bigots for banning/killing
homosexuals? "It isn't natural ..."

> This is NOT totalitarian, this is an open ended, liberatarian, systems
> based approach.

It's warmed-over biological determinism. I can't comment on whether it's
libertarian or not, but it strikes me as being utterly un-extropian.

> However, to a european, I am sure being told to keep
> their hands off controlling other people seems like fascism, just like
> 'freedom of religion' means the freedom to persecute other religions to
> some fundamentalists.

You're descending into ad-hominem abuse, not to mention gross
over-generalisations based on nationalist stereotyping of a negative
variety. Can you rise above it for once, so we can have a civil

-- Charlie

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