Re: The FAQ is (not) completed! ;-)

Max More (
Sun, 21 Feb 1999 00:01:24 -0800

At 03:32 PM 2/21/99 +1100, Tim Bates wrote:
>Also, I would be willing to argue that it would be very hard to be
>extropian and not believe in maximal liberty for individuals and minimal
>government, probably as defined by Rand as zero government outside
>defending the (libertarian) constitution.

Tim: You raise some interesting points...

Many of us may well agree that affirming the principles of Open Society and Self-Direction means in practice something like a libertarian view. But others may think some government services or regulations actually support those principles. Some may favor government subsidies for basic research. Personally, I do not, but if someone favored that because they believed in "market failure" for basic research, I would not see this as incompatible with being extropian.

>I wonder what the resolution is? Transhumanism must have a political
>philosophy of some kind if it is a minimally complete view of human

In regard to transhumanism (as a genus, of which Extropianism is a species), it seems quite tricky to determine what limits to set to political views. The core idea of transhumanism, in whatever form, is using realistic methods to overcome human limits.

>I propose this passage:
>"Transhumans do not view any larger organisation which they may join from
>time to time as being in any way transcendent of their individual selves.
>Their politics are constrained by this principle.

I don't see how this can be justified as a requirement for transhumanists in general, though I think it does fit the Self-Direction principle of Extropianism. Why can't there be collectivist transhumanists? (Call them The Borgists.) Or socialist transhumanists? Or technocratic socialists (H.G. Wells?) Or even racist transhumanists who put the transcendence of some group first?

>In particular, Transhumanism excludes all communitarian forms of
>government based on notions that any other individual, "society", or any
>other entity has any call upon them which transcends the transhumanist's
>individual choices.

Why? Transhumanism has much in common with humanism. Plenty of humanists (most) put humanity as a whole ahead of individuals, although many clearly do not. I don't see why transhumanism in general should rule out that diversity of politics. If someone wants to be known as a transhumanist who rejects the idea of subordination to the collective, they can call themselves an Extropian transhumanist... or some other kind of transhumanist view that might arise that shares Extropianism's Self-Direction but differs on some other important point.

>>Secondly, ... the credit goes to
>>Max More for having created the world view of transhumanism
>Yes. Let's just say "Max More defined Transhumanism."

Thank you. Huxley did, as Natasha pointed out, use the term in a different sense (more outside the individual rather than transcending the human condition), and I was the first to use the term "transhumanism" in its current sense, the first to formally define it (I'm now happy with the definition on the WTA site, to which I contributed), and the first to write an essay on it, in 1990.

I do think the WTA FAQ is unjust in not giving me that credit. Hey, if I don't get paid for this work, at least I want payment in the form of credit!


Max More, Ph.D.
<> or <>

Implications of Advanced Technologies
President, Extropy Institute: EXTRO 4 Conference: Biotech Futures. See