Phil: The VALUE of life & individualism vs self-sacrifice.

J. de Lyser (
Fri, 14 Feb 1997 17:28:26 +0100

Since i came in contact with Transhuman and Extropian thought, the main
problem i had in assimilating Participant Evolutionist theory into it, has
without doubt been the eternal life question.

Although seeking eternal life is a fine example of the individual seeking
to escape the rules Nature has imposed upon humanity, and thus increasing
the individuals control over his/her own destiny, i still have a few
problems with some other possible motive.

The quest for eternal life could also come from the natural instinct to
stay alive no matter what. This i.m.o. is a very dangerous motive. As ones
life itself is valued as the greatest possible good, many other aspects
that are assumed to be naturally 'inherent' to that life, are taken for
granted, and i hope we will not forget to improve the quality of that life,
in the process of trying to extend it.

To quote Aristotle: 'Certainly most men, in their desire to keep alive, are
prepared to face a great deal of suffering, as if finding in life itself a
certain well-being and a natural sweetness'

0r a more radical one: 'Life has no ideals, it will do anything to survive
!' (Arthur Byron Cover)

Certainly there is truth in these words. When life itself is valued as the
highest ideal, other ideals become secondary to it, and there might lie the
basis for the success of the many opressive state systems we disussed in
earlier threads.

Self-sacrifice ethic.

Now to continue where i left off in the socialist/capitalist discussion, i
do see where ethics like that of self-sacrifice (understood that it's
voluntary, and based on individual decisions), and that of 'the good of the
many' etc, cannot be ignored in any rational system, nor should such ethics
become valued as 'inferior' or 'obsolete'. Something to which i still have
questions after the reactions on the last discussion.

No political system can function without ideals and ethics that function
like 'unwritten laws' by which a society lives together.

My question then is: If in an anarcho-capitalist system, this main ideal
becomes 'survival', then is there not the danger of it becoming the same
hell to live in, as many of the other political systems we reject ?

Are we then not simply replacing the exploitative system of a state or
ruling power, by a system where we exploit eachothers fears of death, and
desires for survival ? Or indeed our desires for accumulation of wealth to
insure those...

I myself have had no fear of death yet, and the only reason for myself i
can imagine would be, if one day i would start a family, for whom i need to
be 'around'. I find it hard to understand why anyone would stay alive for
selfish reasons, but i assume there are many who would.

My personal reason for striving towards a posthuman state is to eliminate
the 'control' nature imposes on the living individual. To put that control
(over my life, death, emotions) more into the hands of the individual.

Maybe this clarifies my personal vision on some subjects we discussed.

Any comments ?

J. de Lyser