[ExI] Breaking Protocol: A Critique of The Extropian E-mail List

darren shawn greer dgreer_68 at hotmail.com
Sat Jul 24 11:44:16 UTC 2010

I wrote this to a friend of mine this morning, and decided to post it to the list for anyone interested in what a newcomer thinks--at least what I thought and my emotional and intellectual reactions to new situations are fairly typical--when he first joins your group. This may not seem relevant, but I thought some might like to know. It is embarrassingly frank, and I may be breaking some unspoken protocol or etiquette by posting it. But I am an emotional maverick, and have a compulsive need to reveal myself as well as my ideas to anyone I associate with, even virtually.
> Begin Quote: "Some of the guys on my discussion list are frighteningly intelligent, with broad ranges on knowledge on every subject you can name. I know I said I was pretty disgusted with the list, and there is some puerile stuff posted there at times. But I think I am also intimidated. Here are men and women thinking about the same things I am, and have been doing so for about ten years longer. Their scientific knowledge is greater by far -- many of them are scientists or science fiction writers or software designers. They can figure our mathematically how may terajoules can be extracted from a kilogram of Thorium, while I have a hard time with basic algebra.  
Still, I've decided to stay connected with the list, if only to learn. My refusal, or fear, of associating with other intellectuals has left a deficit in my knowledge. This morning I was reading Leo Strauss (or about him anyway) because of the list, and posted a snippet about cultural and moral relativism presenting challenges to addressing universally abhorrent behavior. 
These guys are forcing me to think, and challenging my ideas, promoting a Hegelian dialogue which made me uncomfortable at first. It's true for this writer, and probably for others, that we are not used to immediate criticism. 
I think of Spengler, and how a determined reader could argue with his every point as he made it. But his argument for the decline of Faustian culture, and an adherence to the tenets of cultural relativism being necessary for understanding the assumed/assimilated influential cultures of the west, unfolds like a Bach fugue. His ideas, his language, the context, the range of his knowledge serve not just to make an argument but to present one; it is almost as if argument and critical thought is in fact, when duly presented and left uninterrupted, an art in and of itself. 
Spengler aside. the list is good for me. It has created new associations, and I'm finding that community I so desperately seek can be taken piece-meal. It would be rare to find in one person or one small group of people all the qualities I admire and crave in others and nurture in myself."< End Quote 		 	   		  
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