[ExI] Blackford and Egan on >H

nvitamore at austin.rr.com nvitamore at austin.rr.com
Thu Apr 24 08:19:36 UTC 2008

Hi Patricia,

I worry about your determination to move from the word "transhumanism" but
carry forth the ideas.  I realize you are not invested in transhumanism as
a word or a concept/philosophy but that you value certain ideas and goals
which are presented through the worldview of transhumanism.  This is a

What do you really know about Egan?  Are his
values/knowledge/intelligent/life experiences better than the rest of us? 
What makes you think he is the authority?  Because he is a well known
science fiction writer?  Or that he has a wisdom that the rest of us do not

Why should transhumanism change its name because others think it is crap? 
Why aren't transhumanists addressing these issues directly and with
critical thinking?

I am not attached to a name, to be sure, but I do not think that the name
is the problem.  It is the values/content of transhumanism which offends
others.  Are you willing to say that life extension is not all that
important and that we ought to die because others think it is selfish and
immature to want to life longer?  Do you think we ought to forego
nanotechnology, AGI, genetic engineering, prosthetics, robotics, and space
exploration because others may think it is crazy?

I think that we need to reexamine our principles, values, and goals and
present them in a way that deals with criticisms rather than changing our
sinful name.  I mean after all, are you saying that Max More is full of
crap and that he ought to be ashamed of transhumanism and that he is a
self-indulgent, Pollyanna?

I think we need to discuss this on this list, not run to the WTA list and
talk about it.  I mean - we are in this together.

Best wishes,

Original Message:
From: PJ Manney pjmanney at gmail.com
Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2008 14:07:08 -0700
To: extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
Subject: Re: [ExI] Blackford and Egan on >H

On Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 9:06 AM, Damien Broderick <thespike at satx.rr.com>
> where Greg Egan offers remarks such as:
> <The word "transhumanism" (or, even worse, "posthumanism") sounds
> like a suicide note for the species, which effectively renders it a
> political suicide note for any movement by that name. No doubt there
> are people prepared to spend 90% of their time and energy explaining
> that they didn't *intend* any negative connotations, but this is not
> one of those cases where other people will be to blame if
> "transhumanists" are reviled as the enemies of humanity on purely
> linguistic grounds. It's no use people proclaiming "Please, read my
> 1,000-page manifesto, don't just look at one word!" The name is
> stupid, and anyone who doesn't drop it deserves the consequences.
> And I'm not sure quite how much solidarity I'm compelled to have with
> someone, just because they've also noticed that we're not going to
> see out the millennium with physical substrates identical to those
> we've had for the last 200,000 years. People who think their manifest
> destiny is to turn Jupiter into computronium so they can play 10^20
> characters simultaneously in their favourite RPG are infinitely more
> odious and dangerous than the average person who thinks this whole
> subject is science-fictional gibberish and would really just like to
> have 2.3 children that are members of his/her own species, so long as
> they don't have cystic fibrosis and live a slightly better life than
> their parents. >

I have long agreed with Egan.  Three years ago, I was saying on the
WTA site that the word "transhumanism" conjured up the image of that
handful of men (note the gender) who could run fast enough to catch
the train of radical evolution, leaving everyone else behind on the

Unfortunately, some people have both a personal and historical
investment in the word and are reluctant to change it.

I also agree that the far future scenarios for which transhumanism is
known can be very destructive in the wrong hands when they no longer
resemble SF literary meditations and instead resemble a wishlist.
Humanity is changing now, so let's deal with the present problems on
the ground.  We're up to our eyeballs in transhumanism in the present,
if anyone bothered to notice.

I'm the type who believes in searching for something that works better
rather than sticking to something that works badly just because it's
there.  Brands are malleable and anyone's ideas on a more user
friendly image are welcome by me.  For instance, I liked H+, but got
grief from the chemists.  Fair enough.  Please feel free to brainstorm
here or on the WTA site or just pass them on.  I look forward to your

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