[ExI] IEET piece re "Problems of Transhumanism"

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Mon Feb 8 17:58:44 UTC 2010

On 2/8/2010 11:35 AM, Damien Broderick wrote:

>Natasha Vita-More :
>> So what?

> Eh?

To expand on that: Isn't what I quoted to the point of Hughes' essay, 
which starts:

<Transhumanists, like Enlightenment partisans in general, believe that 
human nature can be improved but are conflicted about whether liberal 
democracy is the best path to betterment. The liberal tradition within 
the Enlightenment has argued that individuals are best at finding their 
own interests and should be left to improve themselves in 
self-determined ways.>

BUT, he goes on below,

<The 2005 and 2007 surveys of the members of the World Transhumanist 
Association (WTA, 2005; WTA, 2007) asked, “Although we may devise better 
political systems in the future, do you believe that multi-party 
democracies with civil liberties for individuals are the best of the 
existing political orders?” A third of the respondents were unwilling to 
affirm the superiority of liberal democracy among existing political 
systems. Transhumanist Max More, for instance, looks toward a 
post-democratic minarchy>

and follows with the quote from Max I've now cited twice, which you 
don't think is relevant (I suppose). Is it really irrelevant? Perhaps 
so. Here it is again:

<Democratic arrangements have no intrinsic value; they have value only to
the extent that they enable us to achieve shared goals while protecting our
freedom. Surely, as we strive to transcend the biological limitations of
human nature, we can also improve upon monkey politics? >

I certainly don't think that Max's comment on "monkey politics" is a 
disparagement of *democracy* but rather of tribal power plays, 
hierarchies of force and authority, etc. And his views are certainly 
inconsistent with Hughes' glib opening comment about a supposed >H 
"tendency to disparage liberal democracy in favor of the rule by dei ex 
machina and technocratic elites." But it doesn't sound like a ringing 
endorsement of the position that "liberal democracy is the best path to 
betterment," which is where Hughes started.

Damien Broderick

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