Re: Skeptics Take on the Extropian Concept

T0Morrow (
Sat, 28 Feb 1998 14:08:19 EST

Doug Bailey offers, among his several cogent (if not ultimately convincing)
criticisms of matters Extropian:

>What substance is
>the act of coining a term for a concept that someone else
>Don't get me wrong, coining terms is great idea since it can
>help to improve commmunication. Take a concept that would
>otherwise take a sentence or two to trigger the reader's
>mind and encapsulate it in a word. But I see a lot of people
>patting themselves on the back for simply coining a term.

I suppose that if anyone merits criticism for crowing over coining "Ex-"
words, I do, since I claim to have coined "Extropy" as we use the term. (I
freely admit that others independently combined the same letters and applied
them to other subjects.) Maybe other people would draw similar blame for
similar "Ex-" coinages.

But whatever the merits of *that* criticism, I'll wager that it does not
really hit the target at which Doug aims. After all, people associated with
ExI just simply do not waste a lot of time dwelling on who thought up which
words. They document coinages, to some degree, and set the issue aside.

I think that Doug really aims to criticize Extropians for not contributing any
*substance* to transhumanist thought; that is, for doing *nothing more* than
thinking up new words. If that is the criticism, we have something
interesting to discuss.

My short response: Extropians have in fact often credited FM-2030 and others
of their intellectual forebears, so I do not think they can credibly be blamed
for stealing others' thunder. Furthermore, they have updated and fleshed out
themes only hinted at in earlier works, so I do not think it proper to blame
them for failing to add to the genre. Also, I believe that on several fronts
Extropians have generated genuinely unique ideas (such developing a distinctly
libertarian flavor of transhumanism) or at a minimum been first to put
familiar ideas (such as spontaneous ordering) in a transhumanist context.