Re: humanism vs. transhumanism?

den Otter (
Wed, 1 Apr 1998 20:29:45 +0200

> From: Remi Sussan <>

> Den Otter wrote :
> >Also, I often find people who call themselves "humanists" to be
> >a bit too far on the bleeding heart liberal side (soft treatment
> >of criminals and the like -- yuck!).
> if you like the traditional Afghan way of dealing with criminals

I find most of Afghan justice rather repulsive, actually...I certainly
don't endorse things like the stoning of adulterers or the mutilation of

> and see yourself as a transhumanist, this is certainly your right too.
> As Nick said in his principles/declaration/manifesto, "transhumanism is
> politically neutral" (and yes, I find this sentence useful).

> But, because the posts of this list are archived and I worry, as Arjen
> does, about PR of transhumanism, I cannot let strangers or newbies
> believe that these extremist positions are in some way representative of
> transhumanist thought.(even if I aknowledge the fact that the posters
> used wisely the "I find", "I think" words).

For the record, here's a disclaimer: the views expressed by me in the
postings sent to the extropian list are not necessarily the views of
any transhumanistic/extropian institution, individual or group of individuals.
They solely represent a (rather poor) reflection of my thoughts at the
moment of writing, and should be no means be considered definitive.

> I'm a transhumanist: this means I want to abolish death and suffering.

Is the desire to elliminate death and suffering *in general* an official tenet
of transhumanism then? That would be rather, eh, missionary-like (and
certainly not what I consider "neutral", although it's a great _personal_

Also: I'm a transhumanist: this means (among other things) that I hold
no view or custom sacred, but openly question everything. This includes
the widespread idea that capital punishment and torture are inherently
bad, and can't by definition be incorporated into a modern, fair justice

> As such, I think my job is to accelerate my own evolution and help
> people to do the same thing, not to punish them with tortures or
> sentence them to death.

Most people (me included) don't *want* to punish or torture people
(certainly not for its own sake), but I do belief that when prevention
has failed and the damage has been done, some sort of action has
to be taken. Letting criminals walk is neither fair nor practical -- you
are sending a very wrong message. So, some kind of punishment
is required, and of all those available I prefer the consequent principle
of returning the damage to the source, "to make one reap what he sows".
The punishment is customized to the crime. Also, one shouldn't
forget that most criminals aren't poor victims that had to steal to
survive or something like that, but ruthless individuals who don't respect
other people's life, freedom and/or property. Why should we be mild
to them?

What would _you_ (if you were the state) with criminals (thieves, rapists,
murderers and the like)? After all, no matter how good the prevention
there will always be people who'll manage to do something really bad.