[ExI] The mosque at Ground Zero.

Jebadiah Moore jebdm at jebdm.net
Tue Aug 17 16:26:39 UTC 2010

On Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 8:10 AM, darren shawn greer
<dgreer_68 at hotmail.com>wrote:

> I agree with you. Just trying to point out that it does get tricky. I've
> been reading a lot of posthumaist critical theory--Harroway, Bridotti,
> Nickols -- and questions of whether things are subjective or objective is an
> argument that they don't seem to wish to have. I have been less influenced
> by them than believing it myself for a number of years and having their
> assertions fit with mine. I even read the Unibomber Manifesto, which is, in
> my opinion, a posthumnist document, despite its paranoid denigration of
> technological-industrial society.

Yeah,  certainly tricky in places.  That does't usually stop me, though ;)
 And importantly, for a large portion of the time relativism vs absolutism
doesn't actually matter to our decisions.  But sometimes it does.

I also read the Unibomber Manifesto (albeit a while back, so I don't
remember it that well), and came to the same sort of conclusion--parts were
clearly crazy, but parts made quite a lot of sense.

9/11 may have been the final nail in the coffin not of modernism but of
> post-modernism, which deconstructed grand narrative and the idea of
> universal belief, as a reaction to such atrocities as the holocaust and
> Stalinism, which relied on sweeping world narrative to suck people in (and
> as Fred Moulton pointed out last week, the Muslim Brotherhood is still doing
> vis-a-vis Islam and the West.) It is my opinion that 9/11 illustrated the
> dangers of the apathy that results from relativism and rampant
> individualism. 9/11, in addition to being a failure of security, was also a
> failure of community.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean when you say that "relativism and rampant
individualism" had a causative role in 9/11.  I assume you mean the US's
general non-preparedness, or perhaps you mean they helped create the kind of
culture that the militant Muslims opposed?  If it's the first, it seems like
it wouldn't matter much, except perhaps in the aftermath.  Then, of course,
the US was shocked into a sort of collective mode, which lead to a variety
of things which some people might consider bad, and which might not have
happened as much had the US already been in collective mode and so would not
have been shocked to such an extreme?

If it's the second... then I agree, but I don't really think that the US
should have been different to avoid it.

But you probably meant something else entirely.

> My father once played me the song The Night Chicago Died. I was a kid and
> he explained to me the events that inspired the song. I ask him--I was only
> eleven or twelve at the time-- how a few men with guns could over-power a
> large crowd. "Couldn't they just jump them?" I asked.
> "They were too worried about getting killed themselves," he told me.
> This stuck with me. I'm not sure where I'm going with this.

Good story, I'll have to remember it.

> Perhaps just that if the traditional ontology or chain of being (the idea
> of God, arch-angels, angels, spirits, kings, nobels, gentry,) has been
> abolished, the one next in line is the actual idea of human.

Well, clearly we're next in line, but I don't know that the idea of human
will be abolished like the others so much as mutated heavily.  Well, I
suppose it depends what you mean by "human".

> Instead of social order we sink back into a kind of natural disorder while
> maintaining intellectual rigor and arming ourselves with the knowledge of
> the power and influence of evolutionary psychology on human behavior and
> accepting technology as an evolutionary and inevitable outgrowth of the
> development of the species.

Perhaps we'll "sink" into natural disorder, but i don't think so, especially
if we maintain our technology.  it makes it much easier to create empires
and maintain a large, ordered society than ever before, and does so without
needing nearly as much unifying mythology.  It seems more likely that we'll
just evolve as a society to homogenize, and to respect an order that has
humans at both the top and bottom, albeit with titles.  And I bet things
will (continue to) tend towards bureaucratic, which certainly makes people
view government as a thing made of people.

> This also makes room for the much-contested idea of a singularity, though I
> recently read a few writers who believe we will never get there, as it is a
> "horizon" event. We will either pass through a number of critical times that
> appear to be singularities, or that we will never notice the true
> singularity as it will require an objective view of human development as a
> whole, which is not possible when you're caught in the  swift current of
> that development.

What works are you talking about?  I don't see how the singularity
prediction (in the form "at some point AI might become smarter than humans;
at that point it will rapidly improve itself to become super-intelligent,
and will likely drive the development of other technology; because the AI is
smarter than us, we cannot predict what technology will be like after it has
hit this level") is an unattainable horizon event.  Unless perhaps they are
contesting the posited intelligence continuum?

Or perhaps you're referring to a different version of the singularity.

Of course, post humanist critical thinkers also reject scientism and the
> scientific method as inadequate tools of the enlightenment. About that I am
> not so keen. The argument seems to be that since neither disorder nor order
> are fundamental properties of the universe, only perspectives, then logic is
> only a property of human subjectivity and it too is extremely limited. Any
> model that attempts to use logic to know the universe will be flawed,
> because it is subjective. They suggest no alternative, other than to accept
> this dubious assertion.

I'd argue that a sort of order probably does underly the universe, since it
seems like nearly all phenomena can now be explained via logical physical
models and since it seems that logic works everywhere it is applied
correctly.  And I can't think of anything less subjective than logic (or
other mechanical symbol-shunting systems).  I think perhaps "critical
thinkers" (if you're referring to the sort I think you are) spend too much
time in literature and art and the fuzzier end of social science.

(So I agree with you.)

> It seems that for many of them situational objectivity is enough, and in
> fact no more is possible or ever will be possible, given the limitations of
> the observer.

What is situational objectivity?

> > It's a pretty interesting question. A related one is, "why do we fight
> > so hard to prove other people on the internet wrong"?
> I had exactly the same thought while writing my last response to you.
> Perhaps because the ideological wars are now being fought on the Internet as
> well as in the "real" world. They are much more fun here, because we have
> access to more information and we can talk back. It's not very effective, or
> much fun, to argue with your TV. You can get high blood pressure.

Haha, well, definitely partly.  But people will fight over things which are
rather non-ideological, such as why the sky is blue or whether 2+2=4.
 Perhaps it's in our genes, which would make sense evolutionarily in the
sense that having a drive to prove yourself right leads to spreading your
knowledge and hopefully causing better ideas to gain more acceptance in the
long run.

Jebadiah Moore
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20100817/8a24def6/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list