----- Original Message -----
From: "Anders Sandberg" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > To make this charge of an "ideological twin" stick Anders would need to
> > at least (a) that transhumanism is necessarily deontological in
> > and (b) that Robert intended the consequence to be weighted is that of
> > ideal, namely, the singularity, rather than the lives that the
> > will save. However, (a) is an open question in my mind and, as I've
> > Robert's discussion seems predicated on the assumption that the
> > will save a great number of lives. That is, it is to misunderstand (or
> > read carefully) the form of Robert's argument: the singularity is the
> > to the end of saving lives, it is not that sacrificing lives are the
> > to the goal of the singularity.
> What I was referring to here was not whether the detailled internal
> ethical structure of fascism would be isomorphic with debased
> transhumanism, but to point out that once that line was crossed, the
> resulting ideology would be for all practical purposes the same. And I
> did not use the term fascism just to tar Robert (who I deeply respect in
> other areas) but because I really saw the similarity between a "humans
> as means for the singularity" transhumanism and a "humans as means for
> the national community" fascism. Even if Robert thinks the reason the
> singularity is good is because it somehows limits dying, that is not
> very different from the more practical minded fascist (and other
> collectivist) ideas that view the "national community" as involving a
> better life for everybody.
Quite frankly this seems to be quite a stretch. Surely there is a morally
significant difference between saying that we ought to sacrifice lives in
order to save more lives, and (with the fascist) that we ought to sacrifice
some lives so that those who remain may enjoy a better life.
> What would your opinion be on a fascist transhumanist (not Robert in
> advocating the singularity as a good any sacrifice might be worth? What
> would your *ethical* arguments against his position be?
Obviously this is not the sort of question which can be adequately addressed
in this sound-bite philosophical forum. Fascists usually hold either that
there are no moral truths (the error theory) or that moral truths are
relative. As Mussolini said, fascism is relativism in practice. Obviously
once one thinks morals are relative one is only left with the "aesthetic"
question of whether they should be relativized to a culture, a state, a
social class (as in some versions of Marxism) or race. I believe that there
are moral truths and that they are not relative so obviously there is a
large gap between myself and fascists.
> The problem here is not that Robert is wrong or made an inflammatory
> post, but that in the current list culture there is precious few
> attempts to shore up the ethics of transhumanism in a way that makes it
> workable and protects it against merging with unpalatable and dangerous
> ideologies. If transhumanism has no generally accepted core ideas and no
> ethics, what is there to distinguish it from (say) technological
> fascism? That is why I more and more think we have to abandon the term
> transhumanism as a designator for ourselves and instead concentrate on
> more well-defined systems such as extropianism.
I agree. 'Transhumanism' is too broad in its scope. It allows under its
umbrella individuals (such as yourself) who I admire and agree with in the
main, and more unsavory types like the fascist transhumanist you mention.
While there is much that I find congenial about extropianism, I am more
interested in a position which I call 'absolute perfectionism'. The idea,
which I have explained a bit in other posts, is to wed the perfectionist
tradition in ethics (going back to Plato and Aristotle) with the
transhumanists' interest in the malleability of human nature.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:40:51 MDT