[ExI] Striving for Objectivity Across Different Cultures

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Wed Aug 13 05:35:54 UTC 2008

Stefano writes

> Lee wrote:
>> Oh, I myself don't ever make that particular mistake, to my knowledge.
>> Really.  For example, unlike the "enlightened liberal" who sees penal
>> institutions and places to arrogantly reform and "correct" the objectively
>> improper behavior of the broken or misguided prisoner, I see the
>> prisoners as my equals. They have one set of values and I (and we!)
>> have another set.  So it's merely them or us.
> ...
> Of course, ad personam arguments do exist, meaning that if you can
> find a common ground with a criminal, or, say, with a neoluddite :-),
> you can show them the "error of their ways", namely in terms of
> inconsistency with one part or another of *their own* worldview.

Yes, exactly! It's a fascinating project to imagine oneself cooped up
with Adolf Hitler in a two person cell for many years. You could 
start with "hath not a Jew eyes" and go from there! Of course, as
a collectivist there will probably remain insoluble differences in
his outlook and values compared to yours. But they may be 

What I also wonder about, along the same fantastical lines, is whether
there would tend to be an irresistible drift of one's own opinions towards
the views of someone else, provided that they continued to argue and
think coherently. It's happening a tiny bit to me at work, I must confess,
with someone who could not be more opposed to all our views here,
an extremely religious individual who thinks that everything you and
I and the people here believe to be "progress", he believes to be a
decline. The Renaissance, for example, was a great step downwards.

> But at the end of the day, different views and choices cannot always
> and entirely be reduced to rational mistakes. In fact, when I see
> "moderate", "sensible", "responsible" transhumanists going out of
> their way in seek of general acceptance, or loudly complaining to be
> perceived as revolutionary,I am under the impression that they are the
> first who do no accept that the idea that somebody may in fact be
> actually averse to our, or their, ideas, not out of ignorance or bias,
> but simply because they actually... do not like them.


> While we could in principle admit that the [modern armed] soldier and
> the tribesmen simply inhabit different realities, the first reality seems to have
> some obvious Darwinian edge, as far as competition amongst realities
> goes, on the second, namely in the sense that in the clash of the two
> the second tends to be overcome and disappear.

Yes, just as the "different reality" in which Neanderthals became dominant
seems now not to be part of reality at all, or as when two planets coalesced
between Venus and Mars instead of one (well, one big one and one very
small one).  But there's not much use in going around emphasizing that
it's only in our reality that the Earth-Moon formed, just as there is no
use in suggesting any realism adhering to the shaman's views, views
which incidentally ended up getting a lot of his own people killed. Really.

> Or, even though theoretically the shaman might go as far as to claim
> that he is the one who actually won the battle, this is what happens
> in your and my shared reality, the only we can sensibly speak of and
> care for.
> This, I believe, has strong implications for the transhumanist view of
> technoscience. One need not be a naive XIX century positivist to see
> or admit that technoscience is a *superior* (in the qualified sense
> discussed above) form of magic, in comparison with other forms known
> to our and other cultures.

Yes, but aren't you speaking of XX positivism?  Sorry---you might be
unfamiliar with the English term. It's used to mean the Vienna Circle
evolved instrumentalist philosophy that rules out of bounds or
meaningless anything that cannot be scientifically measured.

The XIX century scientific materialists are closer to us than many
of the XX century philosophers. Not sure what you meant.


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list