Re: Nietzsche (Was: Quoting Nietzsche)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Tue Jan 08 2002 - 06:55:24 MST

On Mon, Jan 07, 2002 at 11:03:36AM -0800, J. R. Molloy wrote:
> From: "Anders Sandberg" <>
> > I guess the Nietzschean overman would be
> > a loud Zen master, not so much interested in teaching or contemplation
> > as revelling in his promethean hyperpraxy.
> That's as good a guess as any, I suppose, though you may have invented a word
> as troublesome as Nietzsche's overman when you propose "hyperpraxy" as an
> attribute of zenjin.

Well, I was merely using the term from James H. Austin's _Zen and the
Brain_. I think he gives a fairly definite definition of it.

> > Some parts of Nietzsche is clearly not compatible with the transhumanist
> > perspective: the irrationalism and the idea of eternal return.
> I don't find Nietzsche particularly favorable to irrationalism, but even
> rationalists must deal with it rather than deny irrationalism, because it's
> part of life

Irrationalism doesn't mean that "strange stuff I can't explain
happens", but rather "reason isn't enough". Which implies that the best
way of reaching my goals (whatever they may be) is not to base my
behavior on past and current experience and inductions from it, but on
other factors not linked in any way to this. Somehow we are supposed to
act better if we take information with no correlation to what we know
or think into account.

>, and eternal return (or recurrence) is, I think, more
> transhumanist/extropian than the alternative: final death.

Finitude is finitude.

> > Similarly, the idea that everything happens again and again and
> > that progress is either a myth or something transient that has to be
> > followed by decline, runs counter to the essentially irreversible
> > character of transhumanism.
> On the contrary, if transhumanity is possible, then according to the principle
> of eternal recurrence, it has already happened in some other time-space
> continuum, and this supports rather than contradicts the real character of
> transhumanism, which is to theorize that transhumans are a possibility, which
> theory is not shared by non-transhumanists.

If the real character of transhumanism is just to theorize that
transhumans are possible, then it is not in itself a very interesting
movement. It is the application of this theory to improve human life,
set practical agendas and guide further research that makes
transhumanism better than (say) theorizing that angels exist.

Transhumanism makes sense regardless of whether eternal return occurs
or not.

BTW, note that if recurrence occurs and transhumanity is possible it is
still not correct to deduce that transhumanity must have emerged
somewhere sometime. It might be just an unrealized possiblity, cycle
after cycle.

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

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