[ExI] LIT: The Medusa Complex - A Theory of Stoned Posthumanism

Aware aware at awareresearch.com
Fri May 22 17:50:02 UTC 2009

2009/5/22 Natasha Vita-More <natasha at natasha.cc>:
> Jef wrote:
>> As for identity as a primary value of transhumanism,
>> this is where I go my separate way,
>> seeing extropianism as *more* encompassing,
>> increasing agency promoting present but evolving values
>> as primary, and identity as emergent.
> Hi Jef,
> Why do you see "*more* encompassing, increasing agency as separating" out
> from other values?

Natasha, your question is not entirely clear to me.  It would be so
much easier to have some of these conversations in person. But I'll
try to guess your meaning and explain.

You said:

>> What I found interesting is the use of "mirror" and "reflection" and that
>> posthumans cannot see themselves because they have no sense of identity and
>> connectiveness to human.  Not my view.


>> Damien makes a good point that it does fit in transhumanist discourse, but
>> not with the above views because the transhumanist perspective identifies
>> with identity as a primarily value.

So, it seems that you referred to identity in two different ways.  I
agree with your usage in the first paragraph.  I think that this
postmodernist essay on the posthuman was incorrect in it's assertion
of no connection between the identity of the human and the posthuman.
(I also recognize and agree with the distinction pointed out by others
here between posthuman-ism and post-humanism.  My disagreement with
the essayist, and my agreement with what I take is your position is
based on the what I see as a necessarily evolutionary process of
branching leading from the human to the posthuman.   While any
individual branch is contingent and unpredictable, sub-branches must
be coherent with what came before.

I disagree with your assertion (as I perceive and understand it) of
identity as a **primary** value.  I think this is an unfortunate,
unnecessary, and ultimately limiting artifact, natural and expected of
evolved organisms acting on behalf of what they perceive (with their
limited cognition) as their own self interest.  I think Zen awakening
overcomes this limitation. I think increasing awareness of one's
cultural embeddedness helps overcome this limitation.  I think game
theorists dealing with the ostensible "paradox" of the iterated
Prisoners' Dilemma and other examples of superrationality will
eventually get it.  I think that by the time most of us are
effectively plugged into the net for our livelihood, sense of meaning
and sense of self, we'll all get it.

So, as I said earlier, I don't see identity as primary, but as
emergent.  It's a necessary result of agency, which I see as
increasing extropically as increasing instrumental effectiveness
promotes an increasing context of values.

> Do you think that identity opposes connectivity?

I'm not sure what you mean here.  I think identity, by definition,
involves perceived separation, but of course our very existence and
effectiveness is dependent on our connections.

> Are you are looking at
> this issue from "individualism" as self at center of the universe and
> identity as perspectives stemming from the individual as a solo agent?

I think I /almost/ understand what you're getting at here.  It seems
to point again in the direction of identity as something, similar to
ego, defined in terms of its perceived centrality within its world.
This may be closer to my view, in that it seems to be less essential,
and more the necessary result of having a (single) point of view.

I came across a pretty good paper a few months ago which expresses my
view on this:


> I thought I referred to as indentity as relating to the fluid, "distributed"
> posthuman.

Now you've lost me.  I can't tell what kind of "relating" you mean.

I see personal identity comprised of two aspects:  (1) the unchanging,
but fictional, **entity** as the unique referent of our thoughts about
"Natasha", or "Nancy", or even "she" who was not yet born, but
conceived as a person in her parents minds, and (2) the customary
diachronic agency, but even multiple and/or partially overlapping
agencies, actors recognized (regardless of functional/physical
similarity) as serving the interests of the **entity** described in

- Jef

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