[ExI] transhumanist as a philosophy

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Wed Jun 23 03:11:54 UTC 2010

On Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 7:36 PM, Damian, udend05 at aol.com wrote:

> 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 views. 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.

One possibility is that transhumanism is closely tied up with the
singularity, and the singularity is almost by definition something it
is impossible to see beyond.

> 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.

Among the medical is cryonics (been signed up with Alcor for 25 years
now).  In some people it is a relatively integrated set of mutually
reinforcing memes.

> 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.

I can't see where it would hurt.

> 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.

If it only flowers with the singularity, then writing it down in final
form may be the end of the line.


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