Re: Questions about the Singularity

From: Mark Walker (
Date: Fri Sep 07 2001 - 09:21:36 MDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Samantha Atkins"

> > 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
> > conceive of 'eudaimonia'.
> The Singularity doesn't require saying a lot about the
> perfectability of individual humans (or posthumans). However, I
> agree that the abilities we will possess and many of the
> decisions along the road to Singularity require a great deal of
> serious ethical thought and development.
> As far as producing happiness, happiness is a somewhat slippery
> concept. At the really "happy" end of what is possible I
> picture all human beings being able to live long enough (with
> backups, longevity treatments, uploads, whatever) and with such
> an outstanding degree of freedom to get to choose how far they
> will develop and in what directions and to decide what they wish
> to do, learn and be. I cannot think of anything offhand that
> would produce more potential for happiness than creating and
> living such a possibility for oneself and all humans and other
> sentients.
I agree (with the usual caveats of course). My question was to Waldemar
Ingdahl whose original post suggested that there is some antagonism between
the notions of 'singularity' and 'eudamonia'. I was hoping that he might
explain this antagonism further. Just to be clear: most of your post was
directed to Waldemar Ingdahl. Unfortunately, when I quoted him I used
quotation marks rather than > which makes this thread a bit confusing. I
have responded here for all that I am responsible for.
> > The
> > philosophical life is attainable only be a few humans and indeed is
> > unintelligible to the mass of humanity, "the many". That the
> > life will remain unknowable to the many certainly seems to have the same
> > epistemological slant as some understandings of the singularity.
> Given time and technology enough it is understandable by all who
> wish or will wish eventually to understand what of it can be
> understood. Aristotle is limited by the perspective of inborn
> capabilities and a fixed short lifespan. There is no need for
> these to be permanent limits even well before Singularity. Thus
> there is no need to divide humans into those who get it and
> those who never will.
I agree with what you say: the malleabiity of human nature throws into
question much of our philosophical heritage, right from the Greeks to most
contemporary discussions. However, you miss my point. Waldemar Ingdahl
suggested that there is some antagonism between eudamonia and the
singularity. My response is that there is at least some connection, for at
least some of the Greek philosophers thought that philosophy was
incomprehensible to the many in just the same way that postsingularity
beings are often said to be incomprehensible to (at least) presingularity
human beings. The most vivid description of this is Plato's myth of the cave
(in the Republic) where he contrasts the wisdom of the philosopher king as
being analogous to a free person enjoying the sunlight; while the vast
majority of humanity are like slaves who live there whole life shackled to a
cave wall forever cut-off from seeing things as they truly are.
> >The unmoved
> > mover is not Christian, so so much for your "companions in guilt"
> > Indeed, one might think of the unmoved mover as the country cousin of
> > Omega point. Perhaps you could help by saying what you think the content
> > "human flourishing" is. As Aristotle points out, there are many theories
> > this, when people are poor they say it consists in having wealth, when
> > 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
> > biology?
> >
> Why invoke anyone's name in particular?
Again just to be clear: it was Waldmar Ingdahl who raised Aristotle's name
not me. I also would like to see some clarification from Waldmar Ingdahl.

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