[ExI] Wrestling with Embodiment

Giovanni Santostasi gsantostasi at gmail.com
Sat Jan 28 19:29:26 UTC 2012

There is an inherent and maddening inconsistency in people that are
resistant to transhumanist ideas.

When I discuss these topics with these people they are appalled  by the
idea that a transhumanist would not mind to have an non biological or
cyborg-like body if having this body would extend life and give enhanced

They seem to be attached to their physical bodies as essential part of
their identity (which body is the question because most of these
body-luddite would not mind to rejuvenate for example) .

At the same time they are against life-extension through a new embodiment
in a non biological form because they think somehow that the "soul" would
be trapped in a mechanical box (as if the biological box is less of a cage).

The same person that argues about the existence of the soul, in fact
declaring how fundamental the soul is in terms of its immortality and
essential qualities in comparison with the mortal and corruptible flesh,
would have a fit in proposing discarding the limited biological body in
favor of a more perfected and lasting one.

If the soul is more fundamental, if the soul leaves the body behind why so
much attachment to which form or material the body would have?

This apparent contradiction can be resolved by realizing that this
cognitive approach, this world view is highly "disembodied" (in terms of
what has been discussed in this thread).

At first it seems that in this cognitive attitude (that is but away, in
different variants the most commonly adopted by people) the body is very
important per se and preserving the biological form is essential because it
is somehow the most natural way for the soul to express itself in the
material world.
But notice how the body is in this way a subordinate to the soul, it is an
external manifestation of the immaterial, incorruptible soul, that has in
fact a shape and a form but is not in itself embodied. It uses a body but
it is not the body.

The resistance to the idea of changing radically the nature of the body,
making more powerful, less limited, more resistance and durable, in fact
more changeable, more expressive and communicative gives the expression to
the biological-body luddite that the body would not need a soul anymore, in
effect unifying the soul and the body.  And this why transhumanism becomes
a threat for anybody that believes in a soul.

Transhumanism liberates from the dichotomy of body and soul making the soul
the body and the body the soul. It is not a fixed body, it can change,
transform in radical ways, but it does in a way that is under control of
the individual, it can be plasmed and improved to embody, literally, in a
more directed way the essence of the individual in a way that a biological
body cannot do. And in being able to extend the life of the
individual indefinitely a non-biological transhumanist body has also the
other fundamental characteristic of the soul, its immortality. It is not an
immortality in a ethereal other word, but it lives in the material world
and on the way of transcending its limitations as a limited life span,
disease, pain.

So my answer is that transhumanism is more embodied than the alternative
world view because the emphasis is in expressing individuality and
existence through a body, not a particular one but one that is changing,
transforming, adapting whatever form, material, shape is useful or
necessary. But then the body is the object and the subject at the same
time.  The transhumanism vision in freeing us from a biological body allows
the mind to transform the body to express itself more directly, powerfully
and freely and the body being more free and less limited influence and
inform the mind with new diverse and capable senses, possibilities and
ranges of experiences.

Transhumanism then really frees us from the Cartesian dichotomy, not just
recognizing the body and mind are one (as modern science has already done)
but creatively, through technology, making mind and body one and the same.


2012/1/28 Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com>

> On 28 January 2012 15:10, Natasha Vita-More <natasha at natasha.cc> wrote:
>> "Another issue is whether life (or, for that matter, everything) is
>> computation.
>> Marguis seemed to think it is, as did La Mettrie (1747), Fedorov
>> (1828-1903), Finot (1856-1922).
> Yes, this goes back after a fashion more than we usually think,
> My most immediate references were in fact Wolfran and Seth Lloyd, but I
> think that Turing himself philosophised on the subject, or did he?
> --
> Stefano Vaj
> _______________________________________________
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> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> http://lists.extropy.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/extropy-chat
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