The foundation of transhumanism

From: Waldemar Ingdahl (
Date: Fri Jul 14 2000 - 11:02:54 MDT

The central questions for the future tell us who we are, as individuals and
as society. Do we seek stasis- a regulated, constructed world? Or do we
welcome dynamism, a world of constant creation, constant discoveries, and
constant competition? Do we value stability and control, or development and
learning? Are we afraid of the future, and see the development of technology
and society as something dangerous? Or do we see these developments as an
expression of human creativity and the future as something good? Do we think
that development demands central planning, or do we see it as a
decentralised, evolutionary process? Do we think that mistakes will turn
into permanent catastrophes, or are they the side- products of
experimentation, which can be corrected? Do we seek the predictable, or are
we delighted by surprises? These two opposites, stasis and dynamism, are
increasingly dominating our political, intellectual, and cultural
landscapes. The central questions of our time are about how we should handle
the future. And these questions form a sharp demarcation line. The future is
a "growing, complex mess". This "mess" doesn't consist of disorder, but an
order that's unpredictable, spontaneous, and constantly changing, a pattern
formed by billions of not co-ordinated of themselves independent decisions.
This pattern doesn't just contain some high technological gadgets, but the
full spectrum of life. When people create and sell products and services,
when they clothe and express themselves in new ways, when they form families
and choose the place to live in, make medical decisions or seek insight to
their lives, explore the universe and invent new forms of art. These actions
create a future nobody can see, a future that is dynamic and that has an
inherent instability. This instability, or rather our awareness of it, is
heightened by the flow of contemporary life- by the ease with which ideas
and messages, goods and people, transcend boundaries, by technology that
transcend the swiftness of the human mind, and the limitations of the human
body. Of the universal lubricants of trade and popular culture, of the
dissolvement or restructuring of established institutions, and of the
synthesis between the new and the old, between East and West- that seemingly
every product of human culture is combined and recombined. We live in a time
of creation of huge proportions. But this creation generates change, and
this change draws enemies, both those that act in the name of ideas and for
their own sake. With a few exceptions the enemies of the future don't direct
their attacks on creativity itself but on the dynamic processes that carry
it. Finally the free market is seen as a strong force of social change,
cultural, and technological innovation, by some seen as liberation, by
others as a threat. The same goes for the markets of ideas: for freedom of
expression, and world- spanning communication, for experimenting in
lifestyles, for scientific research, artistic expression and technological
innovation. All these processes form an unpredictable and unknown future.
Some people rejoice when they see so many different, decentralised, choice-
generating systems, even if they don't approve of the individual choices.
Others cringe back. In their quest for stability and control they seek to
eliminate and slow down these unreliable and "too creative" forces. Stasists
and dynamists are separated both by simple, short-sighted political
questions, and by a fundamental difference in worldview. They get into
conflict on both considering the nature of development and thedesirabilityy
of it. Do you need a plan to reach a certain goal? Or is it a boundless
process of exploration and discoveries? Is the striving for better terms of
life an expression of destructive, nihilistic dissatisfaction, or of the
best qualities of humanity? Is development a result of puritan inhibition,
or of a playful mind? Stasis's and dynamists have different opinions of the
boundaries and usefulness of knowledge. Stasis's demand that knowledge must
be formulated and easily divided by many. Dynamists appreciate the
distributed, and often tacit knowledge, they acknowledge the limitations of
the human intellect as well as revering learning. These conflicts lead to
very different opinions of what are good institutions and rules. Stasists
search for specific ways to rule and control every new situation. Dynamists
want to limit common regulations to seldom changed principles with a broad
implementation, in whose boundary people have the right to create and try on
uncountable combinations. Stasists demand that their detailed rules must be
forced upon everyone, while dynamists prefer competing groups with different
rules. These conflicts have severe political repercussions that affect us on
a much deeper level than political campaigns and legislation. They affect
our basic view on how philosophical, political, economic, social,
intellectual, and cultural systems work, what these systems should value,
and their meaning.

And where does transhumanism fit into this? Well by being the staunch
supporter of the dynamist view...
Or at least it should be...

Waldemar Ingdahl

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