Re: v2.5 vs v3.0

From: Dan Fabulich (
Date: Wed Oct 11 2000 - 23:03:33 MDT

Elaine Walker wrote:

> I suppose I shouldn't complain too much, since I haven't been around
> for the "PERPETUAL PROGRESS" you have made here. But these
> principles sound much more practical and politically correct and
> less dynamic than they used to. Perhaps I should try to be more of
> a "PRACTICAL OPTIMIST" and not so much the "DYNAMIC OPTIMIST" I have
> chosen to be all these years.
> But I WON'T! By golly, I am a "DYNAMIC optimist"!!
> PRACTICAL optimism is not going to get us into space, and that is
> the focus of my life.

Speaking as one of the people who was strongly in favor of calling it
"Practical Optimism," I take issue.

Optimism is optimism. The question is only whether you'll have
optimism in a constructive way or in a destructive way.

When I told people that extropy is about "dynamic optimism," they
didn't hear the word "dynamic." They didn't see that we're
prepared to shift strategies in order to move forward. All they saw
was the "optimism;" calling it "dynamic" was merely there for
emphasis, as far as they were concerned.

For all the connotations are worth, being "dynamically optimistic"
doesn't sound significantly different from being "extremely
optimistic." But there's more to be said about the principle than
that, as you know. I think "Practical Optimism" communicates the mood

We're still headed for space; we're still aiming for boundless
expansion, and we still think that we'll get there. But now people
know that we're not just HOPING to get into space; we think we're
*going* to get there, by doing what we have to do to bring about
progress. We're *smart* optimists, which is what "dynamic optimism"
failed to communicate.

As for Perpetual Progress replacing Boundless Expansion... who cares
about "bigger"? What we want is to get *better*. Boundless Expansion
connotes that bigger is better, a half-baked philosophical principle
that nobody here endorsed. I worry that you're right that Perpetual
Progress doesn't sound as good as Boundless Expansion, though.

As for Spontaneous Order... did Spontaneous Order mean something
different for you than Open Society, Self Direction and Rational
Thinking? Something else?


To play the devil's advocate, there IS something else I meant by
Spontaneous Order isn't captured in the current list.

As far as the philosophy of mind goes, I'm a functionalist. I think
that things that act like brains are conscious. Some people
occasionally try to run a certain kind of reductio ad absurdum
argument on functionalists, arguing: "What if a whole group of people
got together and started acting like individual neurons, and their
neuron-like activity made them act just like a brain? Would THAT make
their organization conscious?" I answer yes. I think this happens to
be one of the deeply interesting facts about our world.

Autocatalysis is one of the things intelligence does, IMO. It's a
necessary but insufficient condition for being smart. Things that
achieve Spontaneous Order are important in their own right, because
they have one of those special characteristics that smart things have.

Not coincidentally, almost everything we take to be beautiful, or even
interesting, is Spontaneously Ordered.

I'm not saying that all Spontaneously Ordered systems should be
granted rights or anything like that... I'm just saying that such
systems are inherently interesting, and important. That's something
the current principles don't take into account. Maybe they shouldn't,
for the same reason we shouldn't call it "dynamic optimism." But *I*
really like Spontaneous Order. I think it's cool.

That's all. :)


      -unless you love someone-
    -nothing else makes any sense-
           e.e. cummings

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