Re: Definitions for Transhumanism

Keith Elis (
Thu, 16 Apr 1998 00:56:33 -0400

Nick Bostrom wrote:
> Keith Elis wrote:
> > TRANSHUMANISM: Any philosophy of life that accelerates our development
> > beyond currently human limitations by way of science, technology,
> > creativity, and other rational means.
> >
> > This requires every philosophy that might call itself transhumanist to
> > *prove* it by pointing to the ways it accelerates development.
> Social systems tend to be quasi-chaotical, so it might be impossible
> to tell with any certainty what philosophies have what effects on our
> development. Suppose Rifkin formulates a really horrible philosophy
> that causes a huge backlash for all technophobic thinking. That would
> then make him a transhumanist,

Not if his means is irrational. But I suppose if Rifkin were a clever
transhumanist (now there's a turn of phrase one doesn't get to see too
often), he might rationally design such a strategy.

Neologism anyone?

SAPPER MEME: An offensive (as opposed to benign or defensive) meme,
intelligently-designed to infect a host, reduce the host's memetic
immunity, and prepare the host for infection.

Is there already a term for this?

> whereas we ourselves, if we have bad
> luck, might not be.

Again, the test is rationality. My basic point is that a philosophy of
life is more than merely a hobby. At this point, transhumanism doesn't
have a ton of tools to work with to achieve the acceleration of
development. That doesn't mean one shouldn't do anything. I don't think
anyone diasgrees with this, I just wonder if it would be an appropriate
thing to include in the definition. And I think it can be included by
just getting rid of 'seeks.'

> ("by way of" is probably better than "by means of", since "means" is
> otherwised used twice in one sentence.)

Yes, I tried to slip that one by without anyone noticing. :-)