Re: John Nash, proto-Extropian?

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Tue Feb 19 2002 - 17:17:28 MST

On Tue, Feb 19, 2002 at 02:56:42PM -0800, wrote:
> I think you could find people on this list who would share many of
> these views. Attraction to Newton, Nietzsche, computers and science
> fiction; exploration of drugs and supplements to enhance body and mind;
> emphasis on rationality as a means to the truth; all are common elements
> of Extropian thought.

Yes. The interesting question is which of them are healthy. When stated
as above, the drive towards rationality is fairly inocuous, but the
description of Nash's desire for hyperrational beings or computers
suggests a more irrational form of rationality with a strong bias
against emotion. This form is commonly combined with looking down on the
"weak" flesh and a desire to escape one's body and/or humanity to a more
"pure" existence.

This afternoon I was reading Per Svensson's excellent _Musse är Ingen
Mus_ ("Mickey Mouse is not a Mouse"), a study of the philosophies behind
the animal rights movement. In one of the chapters he dissects the
anti-humanist tendency of many contemporary ideologies, which seek to
escape being an individual human forced to take responsibility for one's
actions. Among his examples, which are mostly from the left and
environmentalist movement, he also mentions the Heavens Gate Cult and
points out that their denial of the body and individuality stem from the
same philosophical sources. He even uses the term "yearning for the
transhuman", which is one of the first instances of the word in Swedish
I have seen that is not directly related to mentions of our movement.

I consider this anti-body ideological syndrome something of a pathology
we should be on guard against in our own thinking. Sure, we want
*better* bodies, maybe even entirely virtual bodies one day. We want to
be able to think rationally and not be controlled by atavisms or
obsolete genetic programming. But at the same time we are seeking to
extend the truly human aspects of ourselves: our ability to choose our
own path, our ability to be truly individual - both alone and in groups,
we want to extend and enhance our aesthetics, emotions and ambitions. We
will always have flaws and limits, but we will strive to overcome them
rather than yearn for some unachievable perfect state. We seek to become
*more*, not less.

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

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Nov 01 2002 - 13:37:40 MST