Re: Trans- vs. Non-human

Steve Witham (
Thu, 5 Dec 1996 23:51:48 -0500

>On Wed, 4 Dec 1996, Steve Witham wrote:
>> This is the main reason I'm an extropian: because the point is not just
>> to celebrate change, any old change, but to try to make change for the
>> better rather than the worse. Extropy rather than entropy.

and Eugene Leitl <> replied:

>"Better" is an observer-dependent metric.

As is entropy, by the way. But mainly: of course it's observer-dependent.
The point is not to default to being a non-observer, a non-valuer.

> Being human encompasses a lot
>of traits, not all of them positive. You should list some of them up,
>then checking whether all extropians would agree.

It isn't really necessary to what I was saying, which was a point about
the term "non-human." Most people, non-extropians included, would agree
that a person could lose a lot of things and still be human. But if
someone uses the term "non-human," it means missing something essential--
to the speaker at least. I think the opinion poll could be reduced to
two questions:
1) Do you think there's a core or essence to "humanity?"
2) Is it a bad thing for someone to lose their "humanity?"

>There is a danger in trying to press a heterogenous (an understatement)
>bunch of people under the outward spiraling banner of Extropy.

And I wouldn't want to. What I meant was, if "extropy" means anything to
me at all, it's the idea of actively pushing for a better future--which
requires getting over apologizing for one's particular values--rather than
passively accepting whatever happens, or trying to join the winning team
by philosophizing in its favor. People actually slip into a little
gung-ho fatalism on this list sometimes: if the XX are coming and we can't
beat 'em, then join em. Well, not so fast, boys.

>[...]There is a tendency here to use labeling as threat
>of exclusion: "You are not Extropian. You do not belong to us. You have to
>think thus & thus to call yourself Extropian".

No, my kind of exclusion is this: if I personally don't like the way
someone thinks, if their idea of progress runs too much counter to what
I consider progress, then I don't like their way of thinking. It's
"entropic" by my lights, whether other "extropians" agree or not.

>(Don't get me wrong [...] I just
> say be wary of your argumentation stratagems.)

Thanks for the tip but maybe you can help me figure out how I expressed
myself so poorly the previous try.

(Also, thanks for Cc-ing to me--it'll be a week before I'm that caught up
reading the list!)


"It just keeps going and going and therefore you yourself have to keep
 going and going." --Energizer Bunny researcher