Re: origin of ideas, civilization, reading list

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Tue Aug 07 2001 - 02:47:28 MDT

Mark Walker wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Samantha Atkins <>
> .
> > > Unlike Plato and Aristotle (Hegel, etc.) we do not believe that there is
> a
> > > little divine element in us that needs to be nurtured. Darwin killed
> that
> > > idea forever. So, transhumanists substitute technology (most notably
> genetic
> > > engineering and AI) for (3). What separates us from Plato et al is a
> minor
> > > quibble about the means to become what we ought to be.
> >
> > Darwin did no such thing. There is nothing in evolution that
> > forces such a conclusion. If you believe there is, then please
> > show it. If we are totally determined by evolution both in our
> > current state and our potential then all our transhumanist
> > dreams would be ridiculous. If we are not so determined then
> > there most certainly does exist a spark of the divine, a spark
> > of the ability to transcend, within all of us.
> >
> Plato held that humans are composite creatures: bodies plus souls.

Evolution does not conclusively show this view is false.
Dualism is alive and well. Some religious folks teach that
evolution was the means for perfecting a body for living in this
sort of world but that the souls chose to enter these bodies.
Before you jump all over that consider that many of us here
honestly expect to be able to upload the essence of ourselves
(or or progeny) into computers (astral plane anyone?) and to
possibly download into bodies designed to our current needs in
whole or part. Dualism is still alive and well.

> A lucky
> few (specifically, philosophical types) have an added bonus: divine soul
> stuff. Many think that accepting Darwinianism makes unlikely the soul
> hypothesis, a fortiori, the bonus of divine soul stuff is unlikely. This
> divine soul stuff is what I meant by 'element' above. Is this what you mean
> by 'spark'? I myself do not believe that the desire and the ability to
> transcend ourselves requires an appeal to a soul hypothesis, indeed, I think
> it is quite compatible with a Darwinian etiology. Of course, others may
> disagree with me. (Nietzsche, for example, believes that desires, and more
> specifically, acting on desires like attempting to transcend oneself are not
> explained by Darwinianism. According to Herr N., the will to live ought to
> be replaced with a deeper explanation: the will to power. So here we have a
> secular but alternate explanation). Mark

I don't think that Darwin's work has a lot to do with hypotheses
about souls or lack of same. It certainly wasn't something he
himself claimed one way or the other afaik. Thus it is
inaccurate to describe the no-soul view as being "Darwinian".
It is not and causes confusion that makes thinks like evolution
debates much more heated than they would otherwise be. What is
secular and not when you would see humans or our creations
become like unto gods?

- samantha

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