Re: Extropian greed: an oxymoron, alas

Reality (
Sat, 29 Mar 1997 15:55:24 -0600 (CST)

Wrong. Objectivists (students of Objectivism) are NOT altruists promoting
selfishness. They are selfish people promoting rational self interest.

"Selfish" people promoting altruism can not be properly classified as
selfish. They may consider themselves as such, and mainstream society may
call them "selfish", but they are far from it.

There is no conflict of interest among rational people. On the contrary,
there is a common interest in sharing ideas with other people. A rational
scientist developing nanotechnology who just found out that another
scientist next door has finally developed it for practical applications
would not sneak over there and steal or destroy his work. A "selfish"
person in the common context would.

Two scientists who each have two halves of a puzzle completed would each
mutually benefit from sharing the info with each other (not to mention how
everyone else would benifit). Therefore, by working together, they are
acting in their own best interest by doing so. If one of them decides to
be "selfish" in the common context, they are not acting in their own best
interest, and therefore are selfLESS, caring more about social recognition
than self benefit.

On Fri, 28 Mar 1997, anonymous wrote:

["]Extropianism, in the "big-E" phase of intense parcipation on the
["]list, activism, elaborate mentating beyond our circle of influence,
["]etc. is a stage we should all pass through. It's also
["]a stage we should evolve beyond, excepting perhaps a few "keepers of
["]the flame" who can make a living while maintaining such a state of mind.
["]When I hear the "Extropian ideas are greedy" critique, it reminds me of the
["]related misconception about Objectivists, shared by themseves and their
["]critics alike, that they are "selfish". Nonsense. Many are the Objectivists
["]out there living in near poverty (especially in light of their mental
["]potential), expending their engergies in selflessly trying to promote their
["]cause. Many have been the acts of immense ideological altruism among the
["]Objectivists. Objectivists are altruists promoting selfishness, whereas
["]they must compete with selfish people promoting altruism. If Objectvists
["]were consistent they'd go over to the enemy.
["]An analogous phenomenon exists with many Extropians. We have a philosophy
["]of individual self-improvement but we practice it only in the abstract, in
["]the imagination, in philosophizing and principalizing and argument, but
["]not in our daily present lives. We rant against "deathism" and eat (some
["]even smoke!) carcinogenic crap, drive and fly recklessly, stay overweight,
["]and so on. We value personal liberty, and promote privacy in the abstract,
["]but haven't done much of anything to increase the privacy or liberty of
["]our own lives. We promote the ludicrously futile efforts of Browne the
["]fringe whacko candidate but do little to find freedom in an unfree world.
["]We dream of immensely valuable future conditions but spend so much
["]time with these future scenarios that we are doing less that will get
["]ourselves to that future than the superstitious Mormon following a
["]culturally evolved, basic healthy lifestyle.
["]It's great dreaming of the future, but the future will actually belong to
["]those who make it there. Here are some steps I hope we can take to make it
["]+ Don't rant on about the virtues of selfishness, you are contradcting
["]yourself. If you think selfishness is so great, then you should just be
["]selfish and not let anybody else in on it. (Unless of course you obtain
["]joy by bothering people!). the people who make it to the future will
["]have cared immensely about themvelves, but they will also have pulled
["]together, to solve the many public goods problems we need to solve, such
["]as creating a hospitable climate (freedom for transhuman efforts in a
["]Luddite world), getting each other out of cryonics at the other end, and
["]so on.
["]+ be more focused on particular areas of expertise where we can
["]make a difference in the short term. "Tend our own gardens" -- Voltaire.
["]"Operate in the circle of influence" -- Covey.
["]+ we need to be much more _short_ sighted, greedy and local when it
["]comes to most of our lives. We can live and proper in the present,
["]creating capital with which to get to the future, in light of knowledge
["]of our longer-term path and potential. Don't obsess about the grass
["]greener over the hill and starve in the pastures where we presently
["]can graze, to get the energy needed to make it over the hill.
["]Greed is good! As is cooperation! Lose the pathological
["]combination of selfishness and future-obsession, but keep
["]in mind the lessons we have learned and the wonder awaiting us
["]if we succeed in the here and now.


"...And you know they'll never find us, and they'll leave us alone, and if
we just keep on talking then we'll still make it home."

- Orbital, "The Box"