[ExI] Yamamoto Tsunetomo on the Bushido code

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Fri Nov 27 18:03:29 UTC 2009

The transhumanist samurai is a ronin.

There are different aims of bushido and extropianism. Bushido encodes a warrior code, aiming at motivating and restricting the actions of samurai in such a way to fit into a stable society. The right actions are right because they are duties or make you a better warrior, able to uphold your social and religious commitments. The goal of perfectionism lies not in yourself, but outside. 

I would argue that modern transhumanism claims we should improvement ourselves because it would be good for us (and perhaps for others). This search for improvement does not aim at perfection, since there is likely no ultimate optimal state - individual life projects can diverge very strongly. And this improvement will necessarily involve a change in surrounding society and culture, which is *for* the individual's flourishing (if it is a good society).

'All living things are afraid to die.
'No, you're exactly wrong, the only truly alive beings are those unafraid to die.' 
(David Zindell, The Broken God)

On the other hand, reducing the fear of death to a rational level is a good thing. Far too many people (even transhumanists) are so afraid of dying that they do not really live. Denying one's mortality or getting emotional about it reduces the chance of dealing with it. Recognizing one's mortality and even the high likeliehood of personal death with equanimity can be very liberating: yes, this is a bad sitution and we ought to fix it. But while fixing it we shouldn't stop enjoying life and other things that have value, and sometimes (depending on personal morality) it might even be rational to take risks or even sacrifice oneself. This is where the mindset of bushido and transhumanism agree.


Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University 

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