Re: Transhumanist Principles

Reilly Jones (
Tue, 7 Apr 1998 14:19:30 -0400

Anders Sandberg wrote 4/7/98: <My current definition of transhumanism is:
"The idea that the human condition can be improved above and beyond the
current stage, through rational means in a life affirming way".>

This is a good stab at a definition. As you know from past list
discussions, definitions are critical to communication, which is critical
to developing a consensual moral polity, which is critical to achieving
great aims in the future. It seems to me that defining what a human is,
has not met with consensus and that defining what a transhuman is,
therefore, is putting the cart before the horse.

That said, since speculation for fun is the lifeblood of e-lists, I would
like to offer that "rational means" is wedded to the concept of "truth,"
and "a life affirming way" is wedded to the concept of "good." All you are
missing is some part of your definition that is wedded to the concept of
"beauty." "Beauty" should enter in as an aim, what transhumanism aims for.
Across all scientific endeavors, at all scales, spatial and temporal,
preferred branches of development reveal themselves. Transhumanism should
be aiming at maximizing chances of successful speciation by learning where
these preferred branches are located. I like the idea of defining
transhumanism as an "idea" because it avoids getting bogged down in
prescriptive or normative ethics, i.e., it doesn't come across as a
"program" or a utopian manifesto. Optionally, you might bring in some
concept wedded to "adventure," something relating to the vitality of
pursuing enhanced consciousness and indefinite longevity.

The inclusion of "a life affirming way" naturally excludes enthusiasts of
abortion, infanticide and euthanasia since these are all life devaluing,
not affirming. Freedom to murder is not liberty, it's license. These
enthusiasts, who sanction predatory behavior against the weak, the sick and
the old, who adhere to the "might makes right" ethic of entropic
death-worship, are essentially ape-like thugs who aim no higher than the
next tree branch up in a fetid jungle. They may masquerade as
transhumanists or extropians, but they live an ugly lie, incoherently and
irrationally posturing as if they "affirm life" and mouthing vapid
platitudes about "non-coercion" while forcing everyone to tolerate their
endorsement and practice of butchery.

Reilly Jones | Philosophy of Technology: | The rational, moral and political relations
| between 'How we create' and 'Why we create'