[extropy-chat] Would You Enjoy Knitting?

Lee Corbin lcorbin at tsoft.com
Tue Jun 27 04:31:25 UTC 2006

Do you enjoy knitting?  For most people reading this list, the answer to this particular question is 'no'. Of course, there may be
*someone* out there who does, but this isn't really about knitting, per se, but about the reasons we prefer to do the things that in
fact we prefer to do. There may be no reason, of course, but one still wishes for explanation.

Is there a logical or rational reason that you are glad that you don't enjoy knitting? Please let me know if you have one, because I
don't know of any. I not only wish that I did know how to knit, but wish in addition that I would enjoy it. You see, I spend a
certain amount of time in discussion with friends where my hands aren't doing anything, and instead of smoking, which we have many
good reasons to avoid, I can't think of any reason not to knit.

For a number of us, knitting probably doesn't match our self-image. We just don't see ourselves as someone who knits. Well, it's
exactly that way with any other activity, and the fearsome choice that awaits us soon is that we will be perfectly free to exercise
that choice.

The very prospect of such freedom instills fear in many, even including many here, and perhaps rightfully so: as with every other
freedom, it does not come risk-free. More likely, the prospect seems merely useless; we already know what we like, and so what good
would be the freedom to choose what we like? Well, I hope that you won't automatically close down on the possibility that not only
ought we have such freedom, it should be used in the most imaginative ways we can short of inflicting harm on ourselves or others.

Yet another upcoming freedom is more terrifying still. It is the freedom to determine one's own levels of happiness, satisfaction,
enjoyment, contentment, and fulfillment by artificial means.

"Ugh!", I can hear people say. "Artificial?" How... inauthentic! Yes, that's the word. We want to have *authentic* emotions, not
artificial ones." So much of the twentieth century was spent drilling into people disdain for the artificial, and the superiority of
the *natural*. We learned that humankind is a plague upon the Earth, and that there previously was a more ideal era in which natural
harmony ruled before the coming of industrial man. Well, I would urge people who swallow all of that to read "1491", the story of
what archaeology is now teaching us about the way that the pre-Columbian peoples of the western hemisphere lived.

What we must come to grips with is the notion that there is no pre-ordained preference for either "the natural" or "the artificial".
No pre-ordained difference, that is, except for one tiny detail: we can control the latter but not the former. Is such control
dangerous? Yes, it is. Is it necessarily bad? No, it is not! Ought we to have it? Yes, we should! And we or our mind children *will*
have such control. And about that, we *won't* have any choice. It is coming.

So if we grant that we want the freedom to influence our emotions by artificial means, the question still remains whether or not
such freedom should ever be used. (For those who have not done so, please take a look at David Pearce's brilliant essay at

Schopenhauer said, "Man can indeed do what he wants, but he cannot want what he wants" and while that was once true and remains true
at this moment, it's about to change. So now, today, the real question is "do we want to be ready for it, or not?"


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list