Re: Extropian Principles 3.0: Please comment on new version

Max More (
Thu, 10 Sep 1998 14:39:54 -0700

At 02:52 PM 9/4/98 -0400, Dan Fabulich wrote:
>Since it looks like we've decided to ditch BEST DO IT SO in this version
>(BIST DO IT SO SORT doesn't have the same ring to it ;) ),

Unfortunately, yes, the neat acronym has to go. Optimizing the content matters more to me than forcing a good acronym.

>good time to raise questions as to whether it should be called Dynamic
>Optimism or something else.  I happen to prefer Critical Optimism, as it
>comes across a lot more clearly than Dynamic Optimism, which I consistently
>have to explain.

"Dynamic" contrasts with "passive". I want to stress the idea that this principle does note imply a sit-back-and-wait kind of optimism. Since there is now a principle devoted to rational thinking and critical rationality, I will leave this principle with its current name. What I have done is to start one paragraph like this: "Dynamic optimism and passive faith are incompatible. Dynamic optimism means critical optimism." That may not satisfy you but it should help.

>Also, a style note: it looks like number 7, Rational Thinking, is in a
>smaller font in the table of contents than the rest of the principles.
>Since, presumably, we would consider this just as important as the other
>principles, it should have the same heading level.  :)

A glitch resulting from Word's translation into HTML.

>Rational thinkers of the past have often rejected the line of reasoning I
>present above; today, in the common vocabulary, "rational thinking" is
>believed to be contradictory to instinctive problem solving; without making
>explicit disclaimers like the one I gave above, I can think of no way to
>make it clear that Extropians welcome instinct as a mental tool, but insist
>that it must also be supplemented by a conscious criticism of our own ideas.

I think that the following passage from that principle does address this:

"Our emphasis on the primacy of reason does not imply a rejection of emotion or
intuition. These can carry useful information and play a legitimate role in thinking. But we do not take feelings and intuitions as irreducible, unquestionable authorities. We see them as unconscious information processing, the accuracy of which is uncertain."

>In short, I hesitate to include self ownership on the list of principles
>because, I can imagine a situation in which the concept would go obsolete.
>In contrast, I do not ever anticipate that dynamic optimism will become

You seem to be taking this as a political ideas, whereas it is primarily about psychological issues of self-direction. Perhaps it will become obsolete if we are absorbed by a virulent borg, but until then I think it belong in the document.

>Similarly, the spontaneous order section has been rewritten as a much
>stronger affirmation of capitalism than I saw in v2.6.  As anybody who has
>read many of my posts know, I think capitalism is a great idea; but it
>isn't necessarily the best idea. 

I'm not sure what you mean by "capitalism". I nowhere use that term, since it was invented by anti-market people, and it has a very vague meaning that can include much more than free markets and spontaneous order. Capitalism can refer
to a heavily regulated economy, a fascist system, and a mixed economy. In the Spontaneous Order principle I tried to make it clear that we do not defend existing institutions or even market mechanisms as optimal. Markets allow better processes to develop. We can also improve the workings of markets by figuring out superior underlying rules for the spontaneous order to run on. (e.g., which liability rules make most sense? How should
intellectual property be treated? Can we internalize externalities better?)

I welcome more comments on the more explicit pro-market statement in this version. It is one of the things that clearly differentiates Extropianism from other brands of transhumanism and I wouldn't want to lose that uniqueness. I want it to be abundantly obvious that we do NOT pursue our transhumanism goals through coercion, central control by "experts", or other non-volutanstic methods.

Thanks for your comments, Dan. I'll put up a revised version once I've tackled more of the comments I've received recently.


Max More, Ph.D. (soon also: <>)
Consulting services on the impact of advanced technologies President, Extropy Institute:,