[ExI] transhumanist as a philosophy

udend05 at aol.com udend05 at aol.com
Tue Jun 22 22:32:26 UTC 2010

That said, Damien talks of 'systematic' philosophy. Perhaps this is a third tier, somewhere above philosophical movement and plain old philosophy.  I for one can cannot deny that without a core text or group of texts to do this work of defining, ordering, analysing and so on, it would be difficult to think of transhumanism as a systematic philosophy.

If this is what Damien meant, I can only reiterate my view that transhumanism is only an infant: it needs careful handling by parents with reasonably consistent views, an abundance of love (for each other, as well), and a single-minded devotion to the idea that it will be the most beautiful adult ever created.

Damian U.

-----Original Message-----
From: udend05 at aol.com
To: extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
Sent: Tue, 22 Jun 2010 21:17
Subject: Re: [ExI] transhumanist as a philosophy

My first post, one of hopeful pacification:

I can see where Damien is coming from on this issue as it is difficult to locate a 'core' text, or even a cluster of such texts. Most, if not all, philosophical movements have these core texts, so why doesn't transhumanism? I want to bring out the word 'movement' here: it is quite true that movements require such texts, established works that demonstrate, analyse and codfiy their beliefs. It would be a peculiar sort of movement that had no such thing, or only a loosely-assembled group of short works for people to point to in support of their vews. It would, I suppose, be like a Christian suggesting they based their entire beliefs on the book of Leviticus and a snippet of the Gospel of John. 

Nevertheless, to argue that for this reason alone transhumanism does not amount to a philosophy seems to be little more than a quibble. When I tell people that I hold the view that it is desirable for us to use technology to increase our abilities (in all sorts of ways which I needn't list here), I am taking an essentially philosophical stance. Why so? My statement has a normative flavour, for a start: it is a position I maintain, and which I support with all sorts of arguments, ethical, political, medical and so on. I will defend the view against its detractors and point to articles by other thinkers in support of my views (though I may not point to any single or group of core texts - yet!). So far, so philosophical.

That word 'yet' seems important. Transhumanism is a young philosophy (oops - I mean, set of loosely related thoughts) and has to go a long way before people can say they belong to the philosophical 'movement' of transhumanism. But they can certainly say that their philosophy is that of transhumanism.

In any case, what else would you call it? Outlook? View? Or some new phrase we haven't thought of yet? Whatever, if as I maintain is the case, there is a difference between a philosophy and a philosophical movement, then transhumanism is certainly the one, if not quite yet the fully matured other. What I see Natasha, Max, Kurzweil, Bostrom, Sanders and all the rest as doing is helping it to grow into adulthood.


-----Original Message-----
From: Damien Broderick <thespike at satx.rr.com>
To: 'ExI chat list' <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Sent: Tue, 22 Jun 2010 2:03
Subject: Re: [ExI] transhumanist as a philosophy

So I passed along the query to philosopher Russell Blackford, of JET, who replies (and allows me to repost): 
What core texts? Tranhumanism is a cultural and intellectual movement, but not a philosophical system as far as I can see. There may well be philosophical systems associated with it (Max's, perhaps), but if so they're not generally accepted within the movement. I don't see any body of core texts that everyone quotes, let alone a body of what could be called core *philosophical* texts. Some people quote James's book, of course, and people will often position themselves by referring to Nick Bostrom's history of transhumanism. Simon Young's book gets quoted a lot, but not by transhumanists. Actual transhumanists all seem to hate it.... All I really see is ferment and debate around some key ideas, e.g. of the posthuman. But we don't agree about stuff like the Singularity, and a key idea or two doesn't add up to a system or a philosophy. 
The big special issues of JET that we published a year or two back are arguably the best intellectual resource that exists, and they should be referred to, but I don't see any common philosophical system there. Likewise for the special issue of The Global Spiral that Natasha edited two years ago - probably a fair bit of commonality on that occasion, since Natasha chose and invited fairly like-minded contributors, but not a system. It's worth looking at to see people who are pretty informed, including Max and Natasha, trying to correct a batch of fairly ill-informed critiques. I expect the transhumanist reader that Max and Natasha are putting together will be the same - lots of ideas, lots of ferment. 
Btw, I don't think transhumanism is any the worse for this. 
----- Original Message ----- From: "Damien Broderick" <thespike at satx.rr.com> 
To: "ExI chat list" <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> 
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 8:01 AM 
Subject: Re: [ExI] transhumanist as a philosophy 
> On 6/21/2010 4:15 PM, Tom Nowell wrote: 
>> Transhumanism*the philosophy*  is still developing - Bostrom, Sandberg, 
>> More, have all published papers outlining ideas, and as Natasha said 
>> Extropy had a good variety of papers. Is there a core summation of these 
>> currently in print or readily accessible? I don't think so 
> Right, that's my point. 
>> which is why "The Transhumanist Reader" has a handy gap in the market it 
>> can fill. 
> Indeed. It should be a good start. 
>> I suppose the best way to check what the core texts are from a 
>> philosophical point of view would be to ask those nice people at the 
>> Journal of Evolution and Technology to check the references quoted in 
>> their journal 
> My good mate Dr. Dr. Russell Blackford is the current JET editor, and I've 
> copied some of this discussion to him but haven't heard back yet. 
> Damien Broderick 
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