Re: sentient rights (was RE: Battleground God)

From: Mark Walker (
Date: Thu Feb 21 2002 - 12:42:34 MST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Emlyn O'regan" <>
> To me, the pursuit of perfection would imply a process with a beginning &
> end for each individual. Extropianism seems to imply a process of
> improvement, ie: a beginning but no end. This would seem to be a
> incompatibility.
> Further, your Absolute Perfectionism seems to imply an absolute standard
> perfection. This is completely contrary to the "self transformation" ethic
> in transhumanism, which would encourage diversity, not sameness.
The main concern of the paper is to contrast human perfection with the
ambition to move in the direction of a godlike perfection. Perfectionists
typically define the ideal of perfection in terms of perfecting one's human
nature. For transhumanists this looks quaint, given that human nature is
malleable. In the vernacular, the essay contrast an ethic which takes the
development of human nature as the ideal and an ethic which takes the ideal
to become posthuman. So on this point I think we are at cross purposes. In
"What is Transhumanism? What is a Transhumanist?"
( I distinguish between type and attribute
perfection. The former is the ideal of being an excellent example of say a
species, a perfect monkey, a perfect human, etc. Most perfectionist (e.g.,
Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Marx, etc.) think in terms of type perfection. I
argue that attribute perfection makes more sense for transhumanists:
musicians might seek to improve their musicality attribute, philosophers
their wisdom, etc. In terms of diversity it is a little premature to say. If
it is possible for each of us to embody complete perfection that is, to have
all worthwhile attributes then, I certainly don't have a problem if others
want to join me in being perfect in all worthwhile ways. (My kids have a
different set of values: this would be an instance of being a copycat,
punishable in all sorts of unspeakable ways). Whether it is possible to
develop our attributes or develop new ones in an unbounded way is to my mind
an empirical conjecture. Take intelligence for example. Some physicists
think we are close to discoverying a final theory of everything. A
consequence of this it seems that even a guy with the brain the size of
jupiter would not be able to improve on this theoretical conceptualization
of the fundamental laws of physics. (Not to mention the practical problems:
like where to buy a hat). Others think that a guy with a brain the size of
jupiter would find more things in heaven and earth than our dreamed of in
our string theory. You seem to assume that the latter is always the case.
Maybe, maybe not. (See for details on the
experimental protocol.)

> Really, I find the perfectionist ideal to be overly negative. We would be
> defined in terms of what we have failed to attain, rather than who we are.
What can I say? Ethics is a boo-hoo subject. One of the attractions of
perfectionism to me is that it makes sense of our life as a project: I have
achieved a certain level of excellence but have a ways to go. Thankfully, I
still have sometime left. For a utilitarian a life would be measured in
having distributed so many units of pleasure (happiness, satisfactions,
etc.). For a deontologist it would be having saluted so many categorical
imperatives and failing to heed this many more.

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