The Extropian Principles

Max More (
Thu, 25 Jul 1996 18:35:53 -0700 (MST)

Since the List has now moved to its new server (being managed by ExI's new
List Administrator David McFadzean) and posts are now appearing on the
archive, it seems a good time to post the Extropian Principles. Many newer
subscribers may never have read them. They explain which attitudes those
calling themselves "Extropians" hold in common to various degrees, and so
explain the range of topics discussed on this list.

Max More

V. 2.6
(Jan 1996)
=A91996 Max More, Ph.D.
President, Extropy Institute

EXTROPY =97 A measure of intelligence, information, energy, vitality,
experience, diversity, opportunity, and growth.
EXTROPIANISM =97 The philosophy that seeks to increase extropy.

Extropianism is a transhumanist philosophy: Like humanism, transhumanism
values reason and humanity and sees no grounds for belief in unknowable,
supernatural forces externally controlling our destiny, but goes further in
urging us to push beyond the merely human stage of evolution. As physicist
Freeman Dyson has said: "Humanity looks to me like a magnificent beginning
but not the final word." Religions traditionally have provided a sense of
meaning and purpose in life, but have also suppressed intelligence and
stifled progress. The Extropian philosophy provides an inspiring and
uplifting meaning and direction to our lives, while remaining flexible and
firmly founded in science, reason, and the boundless search for improvement.

1. Boundless Expansion =97 Seeking more intelligence, wisdom, and
effectiveness, an unlimited lifespan, and the removal of political,
cultural, biological, and psychological limits to self-actualization and
self-realization. Perpetually overcoming constraints on our progress and
possibilities. Expanding into the universe and advancing without end.

2. Self-Transformation =97 Affirming continual moral, intellectual, and
physical self-improvement, through reason and critical thinking, personal
responsibility, and experimentation. Seeking biological and neurological

3. Dynamic Optimism =97 Fueling dynamic action with positive expectations.
Adopting a rational, action-based optimism, shunning both blind faith and
stagnant pessimism.

4. Intelligent Technology =97 Applying science and technology creatively to
transcend "natural" limits imposed by our biological heritage, culture, and

5. Spontaneous Order =97 Supporting decentralized, voluntaristic social
coordination processes. Fostering tolerance, diversity, long-term thinking,
personal responsibility, and individual liberty.

These principles are developed below. Deeper treatments can be found in
various issues of EXTROPY: The Journal of Transhumanist Thought =97
Spontaneous Order in #7, Dynamic Optimism in #8, and Self-Transformation in=


Extropians recognize the unique place of our species, and our opportunity to
advance nature=92s evolution to new peaks. Beginning as mindless matter,=
of nature developed in a slow evolutionary ascendence, leading to
progressively more powerful brains. Chemical reactions generated tropistic
behavior, which was superseded by instinctual and Skinnerian
stimulus-response behavior, and then by conscious learning and
experimentation. With the advent of the conceptual awareness of humankind,
the rate of advancement sharply accelerated as intelligence, technology, and
the scientific method were applied to our condition. We seek to sustain and
quicken this evolutionary process of expanding extropy, transcending
biological and psychological limits into posthumanity.

In aspiring to posthumanity, we reject natural and traditional limitations
on our possibilities. We champion the rational use of science and technology
to eradicate constraints on lifespan, intelligence, personal vitality,
freedom, and experience. We recognize the absurdity of meekly accepting
"natural" limits to our lifespans. The future will bring a graduation from
Earth =97 the cradle of human and transhuman intelligence =97 and the
inhabitation of the cosmos.

Resource limits are not immutable. Extropians affirm a rational,
market-mediated environmentalism aimed at sustaining and enhancing the
conditions for our flourishing. We oppose apocalyptic environmentalism which
hallucinates catastrophe, issues a stream of irresponsible doomsday
predictions, and attempts to strangle our continued evolution. Intelligent
management of resources and environment will be fostered by the Extropian
goal of vastly extended lifespan. The market price system encourages
conservation, substitution, and innovation, preventing any need for a brake
on growth and progress. Migration into space will immensely enlarge the
energy and resources accessible to our civilization. Extended lifespans will
foster wisdom and foresight, while restraining recklessness and profligacy.
No mysteries are sacrosanct, no limits unquestionable; the unknown will
yield to the ingenious mind. We seek to understand the universe and to
master reality up to and beyond any currently foreseeable limits.


Extropians affirm reason, critical inquiry, intellectual independence, and
honesty. We reject blind faith and the passive, comfortable thinking that
leads to dogma, mysticism, and conformity. Our commitment to positive
self-transformation requires us to critically analyze our current beliefs,
behaviors, and strategies. Extropians therefore feel proud by readily
learning from error rather than by professing infallibility. We prefer
analytical thought to fuzzy but comfortable delusion, empiricism to
mysticism, and independent evaluation to conformity. We affirm a philosophy
of life but distance ourselves from religious dogma because of its blind
faith, debasement of human worth, and systematic irrationality.

We seek to become better than we are, while affirming our current worth.
Perpetual self-improvement =97 physical, intellectual, psychological, and
ethical =97 requires us to continually re-examine our lives. Self-esteem in
the present cannot mean self-satisfaction, since a probing mind can always
envisage a superior self in the future. Extropians are committed to
deepening their wisdom, honing their rationality, and augmenting their
physical and intellectual capabilities. We choose challenge over comfort,
innovation over emulation, transformation over torpor.
Extropians are neophiles and experimentalists who track new research for
more efficient means of achieving goals and who are willing to explore novel
technologies of self-transformation. In our quest to advance to a posthuman
stage, we rely on our own judgment, seek our own path, and reject both blind
conformity and mindless rebellion. Extropians frequently diverge from the
mainstream because they refuse to be chained by any dogma, whether
religious, political, or intellectual. Extropians choose their values and
behavior reflectively, standing firm when required but responding flexibly
to new conditions.
Personal responsibility and autonomy go hand-in-hand with
self-experimentation. Extropians take responsibility for the consequences of
their choices, refusing to blame others for the results of their own free
actions. Experimentation and self-transformation require risks; we wish to
be free to evaluate potential risks and benefits for ourselves, applying our
own judgment, and assuming responsibility for the outcome. We seek neither
to rule others nor to be ruled. We vigorously resist those who use the
institutionalized coercion of the State to impose their judgments of the
safety and effectiveness of various means of self-experimentation. Personal
responsibility and self-determination are incompatible with authoritarian
centralized control, which stifles the choices and spontaneous ordering of
autonomous persons.
Coercion, whether for the purported "good of the whole" or for the
paternalistic protection of the individual, is unacceptable to us.
Compulsion breeds ignorance and weakens the connection between personal
choice and personal outcome, thereby destroying personal responsibility.
Extropians are rational individualists, living by their own judgment, making
reflective, informed choices, profiting from both success and shortcoming.
As neophiles, Extropians study advanced, emerging, and future technologies
for their self-transformative potential. We support biomedical research to
understand and control the aging process. We examine any plausible means of
conquering death, including interim measures like biostasis, and long-term
possibilities such as migration of personality from biological bodies into
superior embodiments ("uploading").
We practice and plan for biological and neurological augmentation through
means such as neurochemical enhancers, computers and electronic networks,
General Semantics, fuzzy logic, and other guides to effective thinking,
meditation and visualization techniques, accelerated learning strategies,
applied cognitive psychology, and soon neural-computer integration.
Shrugging off the limits imposed on us by our natural heritage, we apply the
evolutionary gift of our rational, empirical intelligence, aiming to surpass
the confines of our humanity.


Extropians espouse a positive, dynamic, empowering attitude. Seeing no
rational support for belief in a non-physical "afterlife", we seek to
realize our ideals in this world. Rather than enduring an unfulfilling life
sustained by a desperate longing for an illusory heaven, we direct our
energies enthusiastically into moving toward our ever-evolving vision.

Living vigorously, effectively, and joyfully, requires dismissing gloom,
defeatism, and ingrained cultural negativism. Problems =97 technical,=
psychological, ecological =97 are to be acknowledged but not allowed to
dominate our thinking and our direction. We respond to gloom and defeatism
by exploring and exploiting new possibilities. Extropians hold an optimistic
view of the future, foreseeing potent antidotes to many ancient human
ailments, requiring only that we take charge and create that future. Dynamic
optimism disallows passively waiting and wishing for tomorrow; it propels us
exuberantly into immediate activity, confidently confronting today=92s
challenges while generating more potent solutions for our future.
We question limits others take for granted. Observing accelerating
scientific and technical learning, ascending standards of living, and
evolving social and moral practices, we project continuing progress. Today
there are more researchers studying aging, medicine, computers,
biotechnology, nanotechnology, and other enabling disciplines than in all of
history. Technological and social development continue to accelerate
leading, in the eyes of some of us, to a Singularity =97 a time in the=
when everything will be so radically different from today, and changing so
fast, that we cannot accurately foresee life beyond that horizon. Extropians
strive to maintain the pace of progress by encouraging support for crucial
research, and pioneering the implementation of its results.
Adopting dynamic optimism means focusing on possibilities and opportunities,
being alert to solutions and potentialities. It means refusing to whine
about what cannot be avoided, learning from mistakes rather than dwelling on
them in a victimizing, punishing manner. Dynamic optimism requires us to
take the initiative, to jump up and plough into our difficulties, our
actions declaring that we can achieve our goals, rather than sitting back
and submerging ourselves in defeatist thinking.
Our actions and words radiate dynamic optimism, inspiring others to excel.
We are responsible for taking the initiative in spreading this invigorating
optimism; sustaining and strengthening our own dynamism is more easily
achieved in a mutally reinforcing environment. We stimulate optimism in
others by communicating our Extropian ideas and by living our ideals.
Dynamic optimism and passive faith are incompatible. Faith in a better
future is confidence that an external force, whether God, State, or
extraterrestrials, will solve our problems. Faith, or the Pollyanna/Dr.
Pangloss variety of optimism, breeds passivity by promising progress as a
gift bestowed on us by superior forces. But, in return for the gift, faith
requires a fixed belief in and supplication to external forces, thereby
creating dogmatic beliefs and irrationally rigid behavior. Dynamic optimism
fosters initiative and intelligence, assuring us that we are capable of
improving life through our own efforts. Opportunities and possibilities are
everywhere, calling to us to seize them and to build upon them. Attaining
our goals requires only that we believe in ourselves, work diligently, and
be willing to revise our strategies.
Where others see difficulties, we see challenges. Where others give up, we
move forward. Where others say enough is enough, we say: Forward! Upward!
Outward! We espouse personal, social, and technological evolution into ever
higher forms. Extropians see too far and change too rapidly to feel future
shock. Let us advance the wave of evolutionary progress.


Extropians affirm the necessity and desirability of science and technology.
We use practical methods to advance our goals of expanded intelligence,
superior physical abilities, self-constitution, and immortality, rather than
joining the well-trodden path of comfortable self-delusion, mysticism, and
credulity. We regard science and technology as indispensable means to the
evolution and achievement of our most noble values, ideals, and visions. We
seek to foster these disciplined forms of intelligence, and to direct them
toward eradicating the barriers to our extropian objectives, radically
transforming both the internal and external conditions of existence.
Technology is a natural extension and expression of human intellect and
will, of creativity, curiosity, and imagination. We foresee and encourage
the development of ever more flexible, smart, responsive technology. We will
co-evolve with the products of our minds, integrating with them, finally
merging with our intelligent technology in a posthuman synthesis, amplifying
our abilities and extending our freedom.
Profound technological innovation excites rather than frightens us. We
welcome change, expanding our horizons, exploring new territory boldly and
inventively. We favor careful and cautious development of powerful
technologies, but will neither stifle evolutionary advancement nor cringe
before the unfamiliar. Regarding timidity and stagnation as unworthy of us,
we choose to stride valiantly into the future. Extropians therefore favor
surging ahead =97 delighting in future shock =97 rather than ignobly=
or reverting to primitivism. Intelligent use of biotechnology,
nanotechnology, space and other technologies, in conjunction with a free
market system, can remove resource constraints and discharge environmental
We see the coming years and decades as a time of enormous changes, changes
that we can use to vastly expand our opportunities and abilities,
transforming our lives for the better. This technological transformation
will be accelerated by genetic engineering, life extending biosciences,
intelligence intensifiers, smarter interfaces to swifter computers,
neural-computer integration, virtual reality, enormous and interconnected
databases, swift electronic communications, artificial intelligence,
neuroscience, neural networks, artificial life, off-planet migration, and


Extropians emphasize self-generating, organic, spontaneous orders over
centrally planned, imposed orders. Both types of order have their place, but
the under-appreciated spontaneous variety are crucial for our social
interactions. Spontaneous orders have properties that make them especially
conducive to Extropian goals and values; we see spontaneously ordering
processes in many contexts, including biological evolution, the
self-regulation of ecosystems, artificial life studies, memetics (the study
of replicating information patterns), agoric open systems (market-like
allocation of computational resources), brain function and neurocomputation.
The principle of spontaneous order is embodied in the free market system =97=
system that does not yet exist in a pure form. We are evolving away from
tribalism, feudalism, authoritarianism, and democracy towards a polycentric
system of distributed power shared among autonomous agents, their plans
coordinated by the economic network. The free market allows complex
institutions to develop, encourages innovation, rewards individual
initiative, cultivates personal responsibility, fosters diversity, and
decentralizes power. Market economies spur the technological and social
progress essential to the Extropian philosophy. We have no use for the
technocratic idea of central control by self-proclaimed experts. No group of
experts can understand and control the endless complexity of an economy and
society. Expert knowledge is best harnessed and transmitted through the
superbly efficient mediation of the free market=92s price signals =97=
that embody more information than any person or organization could ever=
Sustained progress and effective, rational decision-making require the
diverse sources of information and differing perspectives that evolve in
spontaneous orders. Centralized command of behavior constrains exploration,
diversity, and dissenting opinion. Respecting spontaneous order means
supporting voluntaristic, autonomy-maximizing institutions as opposed to
rigidly hierarchical, authoritarian groupings with their bureaucratic
structure, suppression of innovation and dissent, and smothering of
individual incentives. Our understanding of spontaneous orders grounds our
opposition to self-proclaimed and involuntarily imposed "authorities", and
makes us skeptical of political solutions, unquestioning obedience to
leaders, and inflexible hierarchies.
Making effective use of a spontaneously ordering social system requires a
degree of tolerance and self-restraint, allowing others to pursue their
lives as they choose, just as we wish to be free to go our own way. Mutual
progress and fulfillment will result from a cooperative and benevolent
attitude towards all those who respect our rights. Tolerating diversity and
disagreement requires us to maintain control of the impulses built into the
human organism, and to uphold demanding standards of rational personal
behavior. Extropians are guided in their actions by studying the fields of
strategy, decision theory, game theory, and ethology. These reveal to us the
benefits of cooperation, and encourage the long-term thinking appropriate to
persons seeking an unlimited lifespan.


These are principles not only of belief but of action. We become transhuman
only when we have fully integrated these values into our lives, when we have
consciously transformed ourselves ready for the future, rising above
outmoded human beliefs and behaviors. When technology allows us to
reconstitute ourselves physiologically, genetically, and neurologically, we
who have become transhuman will be primed to transform ourselves into
posthumans =97 persons of unprecedented physical, intellectual, and
psychological capacity, self-programming, potentially immortal, unlimited
As posthumans we will both embody extropy and generate more =97 more
intelligence, information, energy, vitality, experience, diversity,
opportunity, and growth. The Extropian Principles serve as a codification of
values helpful in guiding us into the future. These Principles continue to
evolve and cannot replace independent thinking by the individual.

These books are listed because they express Extropian ideas. However,
appearance on this list should not be taken to imply full agreement of a
book or its author with the Extropian principles, or vice versa. Reading
just the first ten books listed will illuminate many components of the
evolving Extropian worldview.

Paul M. Churchland: Matter and Consciousness
Richard Dawkins: The Selfish Gene
Eric Drexler: Engines of Creation
David Friedman: The Machinery of Freedom (2nd Ed.)
Hans Moravec: Mind Children: The
Future of Robot and=20
Human Intelligence
Ed Regis: Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition=09
Julian Simon: The Ultimate Resource
Robert Anton Wilson: Prometheus Rising
Ayn Rand: Atlas Shrugged (fiction)
Marc Stiegler: The Gentle Seduction (fiction)

Harry Browne: How I Found Freedom in
An Unfree World
Paul M. Churchland: A Neurocomputational
Stephen R. Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Mike Darwin &
Brian Wowk: Cryonics: Reaching For Tomorrow
Ward Dean &=20
John Morgenthaler: Smart Drugs and Nutrients
Freeman Dyson: Infinite in All Directions
Eric Drexler: Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery,
Manufacturing, and Computation
Eric Drexler, C. Peterson
with Gayle Pergamit: Unbounding the Future: The
Nanotechnology Revolution
F.M. Esfandiary: Optimism One
Robert Ettinger: The Prospect of Immortality
Man Into Superman
FM-2030: Are You A Transhuman?
David Gauthier: Morals By Agreement
Alan Harrington: The Immortalist
Timothy Leary: Info-Psychology
J.L. Mackie: The Miracle of Theism
Jan Narveson: The Libertarian Idea
Jerry Pournelle: A Step Farther Out
Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers: Order Out of Chaos
W. Duncan Reekie: Markets, Entrepreneurs and Liberty
Albert Rosenfeld: Prolongevity II
Julian Simon and=20
Herman Kahn (eds): The Resourceful Earth
Alvin Toffler: Powershift
Robert Anton Wilson: The New Inquisition

Roger MacBride Allen: The Modular Man
Greg Egan: Quarantine
Robert Heinlein: Methusaleh's Children
Time Enough for Love
James P. Hogan: Voyage To Yesteryear
Inherit the Stars
Charles Platt: The Silicon Man
Eric Frank Russell: The Great Explosion
Robert Shea and=20
Robert Anton Wilson: Illuminatus! (3 vols.)
L. Neil Smith: The Probability Broach
Bruce Sterling: Schismatrix
Vernor Vinge: True Names
"The Ungoverned" in Across Realtime

My thanks to all those who have commented on the numerous drafts of the
revised Principles, especially Jamie Dinkelacker, Derek Ryan, and Ralph=

The Extropian Principles 2.6 may be reproduced in any publication, private
or public, physical or electronic, without need for further authorization,
so long as they appear unedited, in their entirety and with this notice.
Notification of publication or distribution would be appreciated. The
Extropian Principles 2.6 are copyright =A91996 by Max More, Ph.D., c/o=
Institute, 13428 Maxella Avenue, #273, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292.