[ExI] Blackford and Egan on >H

nvitamore at austin.rr.com nvitamore at austin.rr.com
Fri Apr 25 17:12:32 UTC 2008

From: PJ Manney pjmanney at gmail.com
>Hey Natasha --


>I don't know Greg Egan from a hole in the wall, except I've read some
>of his stuff over the years.  It's quite good.


>I do not subscribe to anything he says, except this particular opinion
>that the word "transhumanism" does us no favors and a handful of
>techno-utopians with body issues can give the rest of us a bad rap.

I think that the meaning of "trans" in regards to "transition" has been
obfuscated to mean "anti".  We are indeed in transition but that does not
mean we forfeit our species or our humanity.  I am not an expert on species
theory, but H+ was intended to become another species.

>I'm probably much like you.  Politically moderate compared to the
>stereotypical H+ skew, like my physical self just fine, not even
>scared to die, although I'd certainly prefer to live.  I just see
>what's coming in our society like it's a movie before my eyes, the
>screen plastered on the front of a freight train heading towards me.

Agreed.  I am not sure rushing it like Ray Kurzweil is entirely correct,
but I do think he has pinpointed areas for discussion and action.  Max More
does not agree entirely with Ray. 

>Here's my concrete problem.  People ask me what I'm involved in.  I
>say "transhumanism".  They squint, brows knitting and ask as evenly as
>possible, trying not to betray their suspicion, "What's that?"  So
>immediately, I'm behind the eight-ball and that's from people who
>don't have a preconceived notion to battle against.

This continues to be an important discussion topic and one many of us have
shared our own personal talking points on and ideas for bookending the
transhuman between familiar, nonthreatening ideas to help people grasp the

>The word has always sent up bad signals to my own ears, even before I
>knew the background to it, and that's all I have to base it on.  Words
>are important to me.  And apparently, to others as well.  Last I
>checked, a book a lot of people believe in begins a gospel with the
>words, "In the beginning, there was the word," and their god created
>the universe with just his words.  Just as that book created a
>powerful worldview with just its words.

I did not like it because of the "ism".  Transhuman as a transition is fine
with me because we have degrees of "transhuman" in early, middle late, for
example.   By the time we approach posthuman, if that is the direction we
arrive at, this will all be a moot point perhaps.

>I take first verbal impressions very seriously.  And "transhumanism"
>has never cut it.  If I didn't care so much about the issues, I'd let
>it slide as a "tried, but no cigar" attempt and move on with my life.
>But I do care.  I'm pretty invested, if anyone has noticed.

Life extensionists sounds so CR, or dietary. :-)  I usually just say I
enjoy life and hope to live in good health well past our current limited

>I paused in writing this to have a private chat with Mike LaTorra.  In
>the conversation, it struck me that Natasha's comment about "isms" is
>really apt.  Adding "ism" to the end of "transhuman" brings in a whole
>lot of implications about movements and agendas and coercion from one
>part of society over another -- all those concepts that people by
>nature fear.

Thank you Patricia.  Yes.

>And Mike said that I don't want to be an "ist."  I seem to have issues
>with "ists" and "isms".  But so do others, apparently, including
>Natasha.  I also have a problem with "trans" and that involves the
>notion that it's something we're always heading towards and never
>reaching.  When, in fact, we've been "trans" for a long time.  By
>definition, humans are "trans".

Evolution is not stagnant.  Humans are trans.  FM and I used the term
"trans" in classes a lot and at meetings for fun because it was easy.

>But I'm cool with "human".  We can keep that part.  ;-)

Here I take pause.  I am not content with human but respect our ability to
explore and problem solve to get us out of this level of inertia.

>As for mentioning the WTA list, I simply brought it up because it has
>the word in its name.  Can't really avoid the issue.  Extropes might
>or might not think it's such a great idea to continue the dialogue,
>but if they grew bored of it, we have another place to discuss it.
>There was no intended slight to extropes, just an offering of options.

My thinking on this is that more objective may be found here among all list
member, not just extropes, whomever they may be.  The tides seem to have
changed and this list is the most politically moderate and open.  Our WTA
list may be too politically vested for many trans.

adios me amiga,

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