Re: Protean Self-Transformation

Jay Reynolds Freeman (
Fri, 28 Mar 1997 12:18:21 -0800

> > Transhumanism by non-technical means is a common religious goal;

> Again, though there are exceptions, I think it is more often that we
> find transpersonalism rather than transhumanism to be a religious goal.
> Where transhumanism tends to be directed towards the individuation and
> autonomy of self, transpersonalism is directed towards the mystical
> diffusion [or at the least, subservience] of self.

Perhaps in the common European and American traditions, but there
are notable instances of what might properly be called transhumanism
in other widespread religions. In Hindu tradition, for example, if
one does well in this lifetime, one reincarnates as a more advanced
person, perhaps even as a deity -- or if a simpler animal does well,
it may reincarnate as a more complicated one, or as a human. Or, one
may reincarnate in a form particularly well suited to learning
whatever it is that one needs to know in order to progress on the path
of advancement. And in one Chinese religious tradition, the current
Queen of Heaven -- a major deity -- is an indentifiable historical
human being, a rather ordinary woman (at the time of her life) who
died many generations ago. In this tradition, deceased persons are
venerated, and this particular woman became popular and got
"promoted", so to speak.

> ... religion and science ... One evolved from the other and we can
> say this without being ashamed.


> > What is uncommon here most notably includes the attempt to achieve
> > non-technical transhumanism by ritual mass suicide.

> Here and in the first sentence of your post you seem to refer to the
> technological aspect of transhumanism as that which separates it from
> someone else refered to as the "Nuts of the Millenium".

Often the perceived distinction between Nuts of the Millenium and
Bold, Visionary Pioneers, is the judgement call of the perceiver on
whether the persons in question have any chance of getting where they
are trying to go. I agree with your (subsequent, unquoted) remarks
about the part of us that feels being important; nonetheless, if I did
not believe that transhumanism by technology was possible, then the
emphasis that Extropian debate places upon it would be sufficient, in
my own mind, to place Extropians well into the "nuts" category. (For
clarity, I should add that I *do* believe that transhumanism by
technology is possible, and I also believe that many other aspects of
Extropian philosophy are non-nutty.) Probably not "Nuts of the
Millenium", though -- there is a lot of competition for that title,
and there are still several years to go. Enter early and often...

-- Jay Freeman