Re: Questions about the Singularity

From: Mark Walker (
Date: Wed Sep 05 2001 - 11:37:18 MDT

----- Original Message -----
From: Waldemar Ingdahl wrote:

"I' ve been pondering some questions about the concept of singularity and
its meaning in transhumanist philosophy.

Certainly the term is a bit difficult to trace sometimes, since it comes
from Teilhard de Chardins thoughts of the Omega- point (now that is a
shaaaky fellow, but more on TDC some other time) and also from the tiplerite
tradition, but I have seen also less "mystical" definitions of the term.
Also, not all of us think that a singularity is possible- but is it
desireable as a philosophical concept to be present in the discourse?

I ask my self: isn't the concept of a singularity the last grasp of
Christian escathologism?
That the concept of an unlimited development became a far too great leap,
that you had to invent an end time?
A time after which progress would be so immense that discussion of it would
be pointless, often with the discussion falling down into an abstract
But hasn't the introduction of escathology also introduced the concept of
immanentism in transhumanism, with all its perils?
Virtue is achieved through action, actions that may be very, very, very much
more complex than ours- but there is still action required to achieve
The Omega- point seen as inert, thus it is not virtuous.
Thus the Omega point is not a state of Eudaimonia.
Could there also be a danger that the discourse about the concept of an
Omega point damages transhumanist philosophy today? Sometimes when I listen
to discussions about a possible Omega point I get very afraid.
It takes us out in very deep waters indeed, speaking about things we have
very little knowledge of.
An indeed unknown future, that is very far ahead, while neglecting the path
to it?
The truth is out there, but it is damned hard to reach."
I agree with Anders that you seem to run together the concepts of Omega
point and singularity--and the concept of singularity is often used
ambigously. But nevertheless, perhaps you might say something about how you
conceive of 'eudaimonia'. Obviously the content has been filled in by
eudamoniasts in radically different ways, from Aristotle to the contemporary
eudaimonist, A. MacIntrye. I see you often invoke the name of Aristotle, but
I wonder how you understand him. For example, in book 10 of the Nicomachean
Ethics Aristotle describes the highest type of human flourishing is that of
the man of wisdom (the philosopher) who thinks godlike thoughts. That is,
the highest type of human life consists in a convergence of our wisdom with
that of the divine, the unmoved mover familiar from the Metaphysics. The
philosophical life is attainable only be a few humans and indeed is
unintelligible to the mass of humanity, "the many". That the philosophical
life will remain unknowable to the many certainly seems to have the same
epistemological slant as some understandings of the singularity. The unmoved
mover is not Christian, so so much for your "companions in guilt" argument.
Indeed, one might think of the unmoved mover as the country cousin of the
Omega point. Perhaps you could help by saying what you think the content of
"human flourishing" is. As Aristotle points out, there are many theories on
this, when people are poor they say it consists in having wealth, when they
are sick it consists in health, and so on. How do you concieve of the
relation between virtues and human flourishing? How should we invoke
Aristotle name if we give up what many commentators call his metaphysical

Towards clarifying Eudaimonia! Mark

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