Re: Dialectics and >H

Freeman Craig Presson (
Tue, 10 Aug 1999 08:48:27 -0500

On 8 Aug 99, at 13:34, Technotranscendence wrote:

> Question: How do you think dialectics relates to transhumanism and
> Extropianism?
> Daniel Ust

About like oxygen relates to metabolism, perhaps? I would want to focus that question a bit before saying anything substantive about it (an example of dialectics :-).

How will dialectics change (improve) in the >H future? Dialectics refers generally to the art/science of reasoned argument, and culturally at any given time it is about questions at the boundary of logic, questions we find in some way difficult to reduce to logic. That's why dialectical questions from many years ago sound quaint. When the participants in a discussion agree on "enough" premises, they can presumably draw some conclusions by logic on which they agree.

Most of our discussions today don't require better logic[1], they require better communication about premises. Perhaps in the future, >H intelligences will tackle problems that require both. I have trouble envisioning the shape of this, it's too many levels up from where I am.

Some questions that go around endlessly, like abortion and gun control, are examples of irreconcilable premises and inability to agree on the facts ("lies, damned lies, and statistics"). Actually, they are that at their best; sometimes there's just a refusal to use logic on one side vs. a refusal to abandon it on the other.

Other questions recur generationally and individually. Everyone has to confront Socrates and develop their own answers to some of his vexed questions, like "what is the good?", no matter how quaint it sounds.

I seem to have written a capsule summary of an answer to "why is philosophy hard?" Tune in next week for "Why is philosophy easy?" followed by "Why is philosophy bullshit?" <grin>

Postscriptum: I expect sapients will always enjoy conundra. Questions that show us the limitations of thought are valuable and entertaining. Too high a Spock factor will make for a very dry intellectual future.

[1] I completely rethought this after re-reading the whole post. Depending on subject matter, there are valid questions of proper application of logic, and there actually are questions that send us off in search of specialized logics such as multivalued, temporal, or fuzzy logic. The statement as given isn't demonstrably false :-) so I left it in and put the digression in a footnote.