Re: PHIL: The extropian principles

Max More (
Sat, 06 Mar 1999 22:39:17 -0800

At 08:10 AM 3/5/99 -0500, JFVirey wrote:
>Here are my answer to Max More's rebuttals of my previous post (I yield in
>point 7, for those who want to know):

I will respond here only selectively, and as briefly as possible. I am writing a separate piece that will appear both in the Exponent newsletter and in the ExI FAQ. This will lay out as well as I can, how I think the term "extropy" should be understood and what it means to be an extropian.

>1) When I mentioned extropianism's "rejection" of libertarianism, I did not
>seek to imply that libertarianism had been declared to be incompatible with
>extropianism, but was merely acknowledging the fact that it had been rejected
>as an intrinsic component of the philosophy and is now on an equal footing
>with statist philosophies that advocate the initiation of force by the

If that's what you mean, then why not say that in the first place? There is no *rejection* of libertarianism. Even now, you state things in a way liable to confusion--it would be natural to read your above last sentence as implying that extropianism is compatible with any statist view. I have already shown why that's wrong, and I will go over it again even more carefully in the separate piece I'm working on. Because of the principle of Self-Direction in particular (not to mention Self-Transformation), only a quite limited government is going to be compatible with extropian values.

>Max More's argument is that "if Anthony Garcia had his way, *you*, Mr. Virey,
>would not count as an extropian."

You have never said what you mean by being a "minarchist" so I don't know who you would include and exclude. Minarchists draw their lines in different places. Would you agree to taxation in order to finance your minimal state? Or do you expect such finance to be possible through gifts? Or would you require user fees for police and court services? My point was that if "extropian" were defined by Garcia or by you, we would end up with only one extropian. My concern is be less tight-assed (to use a term only allowed to licensed philosophers) about this while retaining our shared values. Laws and legal institutions are merely means to the ends that we extropians favor. Because of our differing views about how the world works, we will disagree about how much, if any, government is needed to foster our goals and extropian values.

>3) Max More's answer to my post finally revealed to me what is wrong with the
>extropian mindset as he defines it: extropianism is afraid to stand for
>anything definite,

No, it's afraid to become a dogmatic, narrow-minded set of required beliefs about means. That's a difference that you have not grasped.

>I suspect that the rampant tolerationism and subjectivism of the movement
>explain the espousal of such an epistemology as "pancritical rationalism",
>rather than the other way round.

Clearly, also, you do not understand pancritical rationalism. It rejects *foundations* for reason in the sense of absolutely certain and forever privileged grounds of knowledge. (The argument given by Eliezer was not, in fact, for foundations, but for support. Reason can indeed be supported, but not given a foundation.) If you have found an ultimate foundation for reason in the relevant sense--where every philosopher has failed--I would be fascinated to hear it.

The most blatant admission of the
>tolerationist-inspired fear of clear, logical thinking is to be found in
>own admission:

Yes, I must be terrified of clear logical thinking. That must explain why I persisted through my doctorate in philosophy and why I teach logic. Boy, you really caught me there! Of course, I never challenge anyone's unclear, confused thinking in my classes. I always tell them it doesn't matter what or how they think. In fact, I'm not really trying to clarify your thinking about "extropy" -- that's just an illusion. [Excuse the slight sarcasm; anyone who knows me must have choked on reading your sentence above.]

>I am beginning to understand why such
>balderdash as Robert Anton Wilson's "Prometheus Rising" is still in the
>extropian top ten books: a book that advises people to blow up their "reality
>tunnels" by smoking marijuana *cannot* generate the kind of carefully
>logical system of thought which Max accuses of inherent dogmatism.

That's right, it's part of my deliberate plot to get people so stoned that they can't think straight! I suppose the real explanation couldn't possibly be that Wilson's book contains something of value in regard to self-transformation?

>4)As for Max's assertion that extropians in general are great
>respecters of logic, my own reference to "those who consider logic a
>tyrannical imposition on their minds" was based on a recent post by Joe Dees,
>perhaps the person I dislike most on this list (I merely said I knew "some
>members" of the list who thought that way. Therefore I can't be accused of
>undue generalization.

Come now. It was a clear implication that you were talking about extropians in general. If you were only talking about Joe Dees (whose views on logic I do not know), why not say so? Again, you only say this when called on your obviously false generalization.

>Since the very beginning, I've tried to develop a kind of rational version of
>extropianism (read: "dogmatic"), one that would be immunized against the
>of R.A. Wilson or F.M. Esfandiary,

Immunized against *everything* they have to say and *everything* they stand for? Wow! I'm glad I don't have such a memetic immune system. I find much in Wilson to be terribly silly, but also quite a bit that is valuable. Perhaps I personally may have an overly fond view of Wilson, since he was the first person to introduce me to libertarianism (for which you give him no credit of course) and cryonics. An interesting example is The New Inquisition--a puzzling but stimulating mixture of lots of ridiculous views combined with some fine suggestions for critical and creative thinking. As for FM, I actually thought your sharply critical review of his early works was mostly excellent, though overly harsh in my opinion. I particularly find FM off-base when it comes to economics, but how can you so totally reject a thinker who has been such a pioneer in the ideas of transhumanism?

These cases suggest to me not that you have a respect for reason, but an attachment to either-or thinking -- a need to completely accept or reject whole complexes or ideas and people.

one in which no extropian would ever
>proudly claim that "reason is without foundation" or that intellectual
>and clear-cut ideas are inherently narrow and dogmatic.

I never said that clear-cut ideas are dogmatic. It is closed intellectual systems that I see as dangerous, and I can give you numerous historical examples to support this. As for "reason is without foundation", again I see no sign that you understand pancritical rationalism. You see to equate it to the view that reason is arbitrary. (Before you respond, *please* take the time to read either Bartley, or my essay which is on ExI's web site.)

>was indeed destructive: I tried to destroy whatever could enable allegedly
>rational people to put Wilson and Esfandiary on a pedestal, while dismissing
>Rand as a second-rate, dogmatic thinker.

I wish you would stop with these false and unfounded statements. The fact that Rand *and* Wilson are both in the top ten reading list in itself shows your statement to be silly. Extropians will differ greatly in their opinions of Rand and of Wilson--it probably depends on what stage in life you come across them, on whose personality appeals more, and on which of their ideas you focus on more.

>"Extropianism" is still the philosophy that seeks to maximize extropy, and
>"extropy" is still an invalid concept- one which does not refer to a definite
>set of existents. My question is: what enables you to lump together
>"intelligence, information, order, vitality, and capacity for improvement"?

I'll deal with this in the separate piece I'm writing.

>What do these concepts have in common- i.e. where does their "extropiness"

Briefly, for here, the idea is to bring together a bunch of things that help overcome human limits.

Would I be asking for too much if I insisted on a valid definition
>comprised of a genus and a differentia, and including no more and no less
>the existents it is supposed to include?

Yes, you would be asking for too much -- or rather, for something not appropriate. I will say again--"extropy" is not intended as a technical, theoretical term. If you want that, you already have "negentropy", whether you use an information-theoretic or a thermodynamic definition. More on this in my separate essay to come.

> I am sorry
>the "More dumbness" example was interpreted as an insult. It was provocative
>and definitely irreverent, but I didn't mean it as an insult.

Glad to hear it.

While I'm finding many of your comments frustrating, I do thank you for bringing focus again to the definitions and understanding of "extropy" and "extropian". I've altered and improved them before and no doubt will again as a result of this. That's an advantage of an open system, rather than a closed, final system.



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

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