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Objectivism and Transhumanism

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No, I am not.

I am not claiming that identity is coercion.

Yes you are. Inanimate nature does not plot or conspire to defeat and enslave you. Your attempt to equivocate being trapped in a mine with being imprisoned by a kidnapper anthropomorphizes nature by attributing intent and volition to it. Nature simply is, and being trapped in a mine is not an instance of coercion by nature.

You said that freedom is freedom from coercion. I am just saying that the man trapped in the jaws of a crocodrile is as unfree as the man trapped in the hands of the smartest kidnapper. That's why both will fight for their freedom, regardless of the coercive or non-coercive nature of the situation.

The love-loving man trapped in the jaws of the crocodrile would not give up and say: "The identity of the crocodrile leads him to act as a carnivore. It is a metaphysical fact, and I must accept to be his prey".

The situation of a man trapped in the hands of a kidnapper is unjust, while a man trapped in the jaws of a crocodile just is. The way to apply the principle of the metaphysical vs. the man-made to the crocodile is not to just accept it, but also not to attempt to reason with or pray to the animal. Just kill the damn thing if you can. The nature of the crocodile is metaphysically given, but your nature as a man is also metaphysically given. You are only supposed to accept things that are beyond your power to change. Not everything metaphysically given is also immutable.

The point of Ayn Rand's essay "The Metaphysical Versus The Man-Made" is that "To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion". It is practical to deal with nature by force and men by persuasion. The crocodile is practical in attacking you, and so are you in trying to kill it. The kidnapper is being impractical in trying to dealing with men by force, but using force against the kidnapper would be practical.

Your reasoning is a fallacious use of analogy. The relation between a man and another man who is his kidnapper is not all similar to the relation between a man and the collapsed mine he is inside of, or a man and the crocodile that has him in its jaws.

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I would be interested in seeing the exact rhetoric used in a Transhumanism ethical system...

It seems, to me, like this could be a dangerous stance to take human life and the ends we seek to achieve. We have values and we seek to fulfill values and it is obvious that these values cannot be obtained when we are dead. So, therefore a Transhumanist would believe that we must seek to prolong our life as long as possible and to achieve, ultimately, a state of immortality.

The problem I see, is that this places the need for life as the prime value to somebody which could devolve into a system based on a very Utilitarian calculation.

Here is a valid example. Say somebody cured cancer and had the cure with him. What if he chose not to release it to the world? What would be the Transhumanist's stance on this? What if the Transhumanist had cancer, would he then be ethically allowed to TAKE that cure from the creator and violate his rights?

This is why I want to see the exact rhetoric on the ethics of a Transhumanist and I fear it is nothing more than a Utilitarian calculation.

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I'm afraid you're wrong, Sophia.

No, she is right.

"He looked at his extremities. To be made strong as iron, elastic as rubber, durable as diamond. He looked as his thorax. To be the home of a heart who never collapses. He looked at his abdomen and thought of the digestion ocurring inside. To be transformed into an efficient metabolic factory, to emerge as an extraordinary source of nutrients for his brain. This body, he thought, is here for me; wating the laser, the genetic engineering, the nanorobots and my voice; waiting to be strengthened, healed, enabled, powered, reborn; wating for the shape my mind will give it".

What a fantastic picture of a XXI century Howard Roarks!

This is just weird. This is exactly the kind of over-the-top bullshit that reveals a desire to not be human. There is also a mind-body dichotomy at work here, and taking the side of the mind/brain. Why isn't your goal to ditch your body and brain altogether and become a being of pure energy, i.e. become an angel?

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Grames, I think you are a little off here. I do make myself better. I am currently trying to change my diet in order to lose weight, become more fit, and physically attractive. I am looking forward to looking in the mirror and seeing the results of my efforts: a body that is fit and healthy rather than very overweight. In a similar manner, if I change my digestive tract to be more efficient, or alternatively make my heart healthier, or repair damage as a consequence of aging, I am doing something in a similar vein.

The point is that wanting to make your body work better so that you can live longer, healthier, and happier is the whole point of good diet and exerciaing, aa well as all medixal technology. Do you really believe qorking to fix the problems that result from aging through intervention or genetic engineering etc. is a bad thing? Do you think using technology to enhance your abilities is wrong? You seem to be missing the forest for the trees. Or in this case, missing the content because you have problems with the presentation. Warning against certain bad premises which might arise in the discussion is valuable. But that doesn't mean you should denounce the very idea of advocating radical human life extension and related technologies. Why would ypu? If you like living why not live longer? I for one know that I would love to do a lot of things, going to other planets for example. But I will not be able to with my current life span. There are experiments that would be absolutely impossible to do within the next hundred years (probing the Planck energy for example). I don't see why someone in good health with values to pursue would purposely choose to grow old and die if they had the option not to. Science may give us the ability to have that choice. And that, to me, is something worth working and advocating for.

Also, sorry if there are spelling errors, I typed this on my phone.

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Nanite, I think you are missing what we are saying here.

Clearly it is not a BAD thing to want to live longer and to want to make your standard of living better. The problem arises when obtaining immortality becomes a prime value to you, and by that I mean the end of your life.

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Yes you are. Inanimate nature does not plot or conspire to defeat and enslave you. Your attempt to equivocate being trapped in a mine with being imprisoned by a kidnapper anthropomorphizes nature by attributing intent and volition to it. Nature simply is, and being trapped in a mine is not an instance of coercion by nature.

.

Dear Grames

You are missing the point in this discussion and keep attacking a strawman.

I have never talked about "coercion" by nature. I have never hinted about nature "conspiring" against men.The fallen rock trapping the miner has obviously no intentionality. The crocodrile is obviously not committing a crime. And the genes codifying for apoptosis and ageing are not " evil".I have never advocated these views so please stop.

Let me make an effort to explain myself again

Getting in trouble with a collapsed mine, a crocodrile, a virus or a kidnapper is undesirable. It deserves fighting against it because it gets in my way, endangering my chances to live. The intentionality of these things is not the point. When you are trapped you are trapped, both if someone put you in jail or if you happened accidentaly to fall in a jail or if the jail fell from a cloud just over your head.

Having genes codifying for ageing process is not immoral, sinful nor represent a flaw in human character. It is just a fact of reality, like floods and collapsing mines. All we have to do is treat them as we do with floods and collapsing mines. Furthermore, that is the moral thing to do, if we love life and have the resources to do it.

That's all.

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Nanite, I think you are missing what we are saying here.

Clearly it is not a BAD thing to want to live longer and to want to make your standard of living better. The problem arises when obtaining immortality becomes a prime value to you, and by that I mean the end of your life.

What does immortality mean?

Staying connected to an artificial breathing machine for ever and ever?

No. not for transhumanism.

Immortality means Reading more books, composing more songs,, producing more goods and services, developing more technologies, sharing more moments with your family, enjoying more orgasms, visiting more places, learning more skills... In short, living qua man.

So of course immortality is a prime value.

But, curiously enough, it is already a prime value for you all. You are already choosing life day after day after day after day... It should not surprise you.

As long as you have values to pursue, the moral thing is to keep living.

As long as you keep living, you may choose values to pursue.

Can you imagine any instance in which choosing death is preferable to choosing life while life is still worthliving?

You can't because that would be a contradiction.

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What does immortality mean?

Staying connected to an artificial breathing machine for ever and ever?

No. not for transhumanism.

Immortality means Reading more books, composing more songs,, producing more goods and services, developing more technologies, sharing more moments with your family, enjoying more orgasms, visiting more places, learning more skills... In short, living qua man.

So of course immortality is a prime value.

But, curiously enough, it is already a prime value for you all. You are already choosing life day after day after day after day... It should not surprise you.

As long as you have values to pursue, the moral thing is to keep living.

As long as you keep living, you may choose values to pursue.

Can you imagine any instance in which choosing death is preferable to choosing life while life is still worthliving?

You can't because that would be a contradiction.

Of course extending life is a desirable goal but attempting to live forever is an irrational and, as far as we are concerned, impossible goal. No Objectivist would tell you that they would choose death over life when they believe that life is still worth living but you never answered by hypothetical situation.

When extending your life, no matter the means, is your end goal in life, how does this not come out to a Utilitarian calc?

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Let us look at an actual description of transhumanism, and see if people really find it objectionable:

"Transhumanism is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve human mental and physical characteristics and capacities. The movement regards aspects of the human condition, such as disability, suffering, disease, aging, and involuntary death as unnecessary and undesirable. Transhumanists look to biotechnologies and other emerging technologies for these purposes."--Wikipedia article on Transhumanism.

What Objectivist doesn't view disability, suffering, disease, aging, and involuntary death as undesirable? For any rational person its a no-brainer. Given the history of technology, I think it is safe to say that disability, disease, aging, and quite possibly involuntary death are unnecessary and that suffering (and definitely involuntary death) can be massively reduced through the advance of technology and industrial society more generally.

Another quote from wikipedia: "While many transhumanist theorists and advocates seek to apply reason, science and technology for the purposes of reducing poverty, disease, disability, and malnutrition around the globe, transhumanism is distinctive in its particular focus on the applications of technologies to the improvement of human bodies at the individual level. Many transhumanists actively assess the potential for future technologies and innovative social systems to improve the quality of all life, while seeking to make the material reality of the human condition fulfill the promise of legal and political equality by eliminating congenital mental and physical barriers. Transhumanist philosophers argue that there not only exists a perfectionist ethical imperative for humans to strive for progress and improvement of the human condition but that it is possible and desirable for humanity to enter a transhuman phase of existence, in which humans are in control of their own evolution. In such a phase, natural evolution would be replaced with deliberate change."

Sounds great to me! I don't advocate making radical life extension one's number one priority. Not at all. It isn't for me. I like physics, so I am going to be doing physics (and maybe throwing in some philosophy too). Doesn't really apply all that well to life extension. But understanding the world better will eventually yield practical benefits, and I still haven't decided on which area of physics I want to go into (some are more directly related to the advance of technology than others). I incorporate my goal to live indefinitely into my life by trying to get somewhat physically fit at least, financially supporting such research once I have stable employment at least in a small way, and being an advocate in the culture.

Really, I think the only complaint an Objectivist could have with transhumanism is the same one Objectivists often levy against libertarianism - it isn't a concept that is justified epistemologically, and that it is too diverse to enable one to adopt that label without endorsing views which are terrible. And honestly, that is a discussion I don't want to have. Luckily, I haven't heard anyone raise it. Some transhumanists are horrific politically (and ethically), some are quite good, and some are Objectivists (to be clear, I am uncertain about one or two parts in Objectivism, and am in agreement with the rest, so I am a student of Objectivism, or Objectivist-esque, or very heavily influenced by Objectivism, or whatever you want to say to denote such a position). But barring the issues that one might raise that are essentially the same as those with libertarianism, I think being a transhumanist in the sense outlined above is pretty much a logical consequence of the Objectivist ethics. To be clear: by this I mean that the desire to use technology to combat disability, disease, suffering, aging, and involuntary death (even applying our technology to change our bodies, as well as using it to extend our abilities beyond what is possible to us today), is a logical consequence of the aim of living as a human being.

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I haven't made up my mind on this, and see validity on both sides of the discussion.

In the interim, couldn't one view prolonging one's life in the same vein as suicide?

One is an artificial, volitional extension of a life, the other a voluntary cessation of it.

In many contexts, I would consider suicide as rational and moral.

Anyhow.

Where nature can be defeated, so it must, I believe.

Some random queries : is it death we fear most, or deterioration of mind and body? before the life-extension becomes an attainable, affordable, fact, is one not merely fantasizing and evading? does lengthening life automatically mean extending value?

and yes, do you want to live forever?B)

btw, I get very nervous when I hear any group or person talking about "improving life". I want to say > start with your own, chum, and leave me alone.

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Some random queries : is it death we fear most, or deterioration of mind and body? before the life-extension becomes an attainable, affordable, fact, is one not merely fantasizing and evading? does lengthening life automatically mean extending value?

and yes, do you want to live forever?B)

btw, I get very nervous when I hear any group or person talking about "improving life". I want to say > start with your own, chum, and leave me alone.

Well, obviously I would never advocate forcing anything on anyone. So your last concern about forcing things on people who don't want it really isn't part of it, at least for me (and really, I think for an overwhelming majority of transhumanists).

As for my fear: I like living, so I don't want to die (plus I think dying, the process of it, would be most unpleasant). Similarly I hate the idea of the deterioration of my mind and body. Sounds horrible. I view both as a great threat to my life (obviously, haha), and so the emotion I get when I think about situations where there is a great risk of death is anxiety (a form of fear).

As for fantasizing/evading: I don't think it is. When you look at where we are, we are just beginning to tap into the potential of bioengineering, it is a really new science, really only about forty years old at best, and there have been some big breakthroughs in the last 10 years even. Also looking at the rapid development in nanotechnology, and the enormous pace of advance in computing (plus the fact that both of those are going to both feed into each other and bioengineering in the future) I think it quite likely we will see huge advances in the next 20-30 years. Aubrey de Grey estimates with there is about a 50% chance that we will see the first round of anti-aging type technologies be able to add 30 years to a middle-aged persons life expectancy (someone who is say 55 at the time of treatment) in about 25 years. That is to say, that someone who is 30 now, he thinks has a 50% likelihood of seeing those treatments by the time he is 55, and so could then expect to live past 100 (and by the time he gets back to being roughly the same age in terms of distance from expected death, we will advance them significantly more, and so he thinks such a person will not have to worry about dying from aging). If you are say 50 currently, then you might be able to, in his estimation, make it through to longevity escape velocity as he calls it if you are lucky and very healthy. So I think there is reason to be cautiously optimistic, especially if you are someone who is still quite young (like me, at age 20) and are physically fit.

Obviously, it isn't a sure thing, but there is at least a meaningful possibility of this happening within our lifetimes. And with that, I really don't think it is evading to think about such things.

A longer life isn't always a better one. But it could be, and not living certainly isn't going to let me have any more values so I'd like the option at least of living as long as I like.

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Of course extending life is a desirable goal but attempting to live forever is an irrational

Why?

Why would it be irrational to extend it by 50 years? and by 150 years? and by 1000 years? When would it become "irrational"?

It would become irrational at the moment you find there is no value to pursue.

It is interesting to me Ayn Rand's response to the interviewer, in the sense of wanting to spend eternity with Frank O'Connor, her highest value, if that were possible at all.

and, as far as we are concerned, impossible goal.

It is impossible now, but we are not intending to become immortal overnight.

We are just studying how to control ageing process. That's a first by enormous step.

So it's fine if we evade the debate now, but we will have to face it within few years. Objectivists have to be prepared.

you never answered by hypothetical situation.

Making the excercise to apply principles to situations that have not ocurred but are likely to ocurr is part of planning.

Besides, the doubling of life expectancy over the XX century is not hyphothetical. It is history.

The fact of scientists currently studying the biology of aging, or developing nanomedicine, is already part of reality.

When extending your life, no matter the means...

Who said "no matter the means"?

Who said that extending your life today, with the technology currently available, is moral "no matter the means"?

Of course means matter. Means reflect intentions and have consequences over the life you are trying to attain.

Remember: we are not pursuing just biological life: a life in contradiction, a life as a sub-human criminal or slave. We are pursuing life qua man: bountiful, lucid, enjoyable.

But this, certainly, is part of our daily choices. What we do with our five extra years (or 500 extra years) is our responsibility.

Edited by Hotu Matua
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One funny thought.

Today's "crazy hippies" will be tomorrow's "civilized thinkers", and today's "civilized thinkers" will be tomorrow's "crazy hippies".

Let me explain myself.

Today, people promoting the search for lifespans of 800 years or beyond are considered a bit crazy.

But tomorrow, people promoting to remain with wrinkles in your face, white hair, decay and death at 90 will be doing it to be "in harmony with Mother Nature". They will be the hippies of XXI century.

If some future Objectivist could write "The Return of the Primitive (Reloaded)" they would include the description of these "pro-ageing hippies" as representatives of the movement to return to the primitive, abhorring reason and science, to enter "perpetual communion with Gaia through death". :D

Edited by Hotu Matua
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Why?

Why would it be irrational to extend it by 50 years? and by 150 years? and by 1000 years? When would it become "irrational"?

It would become irrational at the moment you find there is no value to pursue.

It is interesting to me Ayn Rand's response to the interviewer, in the sense of wanting to spend eternity with Frank O'Connor, her highest value, if that were possible at all.

It is impossible now, but we are not intending to become immortal overnight.

We are just studying how to control ageing process. That's a first by enormous step.

So it's fine if we evade the debate now, but we will have to face it within few years. Objectivists have to be prepared.

Making the excercise to apply principles to situations that have not ocurred but are likely to ocurr is part of planning.

Besides, the doubling of life expectancy over the XX century is not hyphothetical. It is history.

The fact of scientists currently studying the biology of aging, or developing nanomedicine, is already part of reality.

Who said "no matter the means"?

Who said that extending your life today, with the technology currently available, is moral "no matter the means"?

Of course means matter. Means reflect intentions and have consequences over the life you are trying to attain.

Remember: we are not pursuing just biological life: a life in contradiction, a life as a sub-human criminal or slave. We are pursuing life qua man: bountiful, lucid, enjoyable.

But this, certainly, is part of our daily choices. What we do with our five extra years (or 500 extra years) is our responsibility.

"No matter the means" is implicitly implied throughout Transhumanism and is why it is a Utilitarian calculation.

Your PRIME value is the act of living and you will look to fulfill that value through means. "Any means necessary" is implied because there is a lack of boundaries. What if someone is in your way of prolonging your life by non-coercive means? A transhumanist would hold that they can do what it takes to prolong their life because prolonging their life is their chief value.

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What if someone is in your way of prolonging your life by non-coercive means?

What if this happens today to you or to me?

I don't think I am understanding your point.

What could be an example of a person preventing me from prolonging my life by non-coercive means?

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What if this happens today to you or to me?

I don't think I am understanding your point.

What could be an example of a person preventing me from prolonging my life by non-coercive means?

I gave you the cancer example.

Say someone cured cancer and had the cure but they did not want to share it with the world. They kept it locked up in a safe at home and left it there. If you developed cancer and needed to get well, would you be justified in breaking into this man's home and stealing his cure in order to cure yourself?

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Maken: What, in your mind, is the prime value in Objectivist ethics? "To hold one’s own life as one’s ultimate value, and one’s own happiness as one’s highest purpose are two aspects of the same achievement. Existentially, the activity of pursuing rational goals is the activity of maintaining one’s life; psychologically, its result, reward and concomitant is an emotional state of happiness."- Ayn Rand, "The Objectivist Ethics".

So either you think Objectivism would say that you should steal the guy's cure for cancer because "living" is the prime value, or you have to agree that having one's life as one's ultimate value and one's happiness as one's highest purpose would (as I think everyone should agree here) demand that you do not steal his cure. If you agree with Objectivism that the initiation of force is wrong, then the answer to your proposal is that no, you shouldn't steal the cure even though it could save your life. Regardless, your question doesn't highlight anything in particular about transhumanism, as transhumanism is not a philosophy unto itself, but a particular position in philosophy advocating the use of technology to expand our abilities and extend our lives for our own benefit. I haven't seen Hotu or myself say that survival at any cost is the goal in either Objectivism or transhumanism (some transhumanists might say that, but I have never heard of one).

I kind of think of it like this: Objectivists would fall in a "libertarian" place on a hypothetical political spectrum (by this I mean that, at the very least, everyone can agree that non-Objectivists would almost universally classify Objectivists as libertarians, whether or not the concept "libertarian" as well as "conservative" "liberal" and the rest are epistemologically justified, etc.). Similarly, an Objectivist is going to logically take positions in support of the development of any and all medical technologies to extend healthy life (with the obvious and I hope don't-actually-need-to-be-stated-explicitly restrictions against the use of force or fraud to achieve their development or use), as well as those that provide us with enhanced abilities of various sorts, etc. and so would be classified as a transhumanist by pretty much everyone else as a result of their positions. Now one can debate whether "transhumanism" is a valid/useful concept or not, just as one can about the names for various political orientations. But I think we can all agree that the support for the development and deployment of the sorts of technologies transhumanists call for (in the context of a free market absent any and all coercion) is an obvious application of Objectivist principles (whether or not one wants to call oneself a transhumanist).

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...I think we can all agree that the support for the development and deployment of the sorts of technologies transhumanists call for (in the context of a free market absent any and all coercion) is an obvious application of Objectivist principles (whether or not one wants to call oneself a transhumanist).

Brilliant, Nanite.

And the position of Objectivism is important because there are already people opposing this particular thanshumanist view, which is a corollary of Objectivist ethics, and this opposition could result, if successful, in preventing the cure of many diseases and the elimination of much suffering in me, in you, and in the world.

In a later post I will answer Grames about his alleged body-mind dicotomy in my paraphrasing of the scene of naked Howard Roarks on the edge of the cliff.

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Maken: What, in your mind, is the prime value in Objectivist ethics? "To hold one’s own life as one’s ultimate value, and one’s own happiness as one’s highest purpose are two aspects of the same achievement. Existentially, the activity of pursuing rational goals is the activity of maintaining one’s life; psychologically, its result, reward and concomitant is an emotional state of happiness."- Ayn Rand, "The Objectivist Ethics".

So either you think Objectivism would say that you should steal the guy's cure for cancer because "living" is the prime value, or you have to agree that having one's life as one's ultimate value and one's happiness as one's highest purpose would (as I think everyone should agree here) demand that you do not steal his cure. If you agree with Objectivism that the initiation of force is wrong, then the answer to your proposal is that no, you shouldn't steal the cure even though it could save your life. Regardless, your question doesn't highlight anything in particular about transhumanism, as transhumanism is not a philosophy unto itself, but a particular position in philosophy advocating the use of technology to expand our abilities and extend our lives for our own benefit. I haven't seen Hotu or myself say that survival at any cost is the goal in either Objectivism or transhumanism (some transhumanists might say that, but I have never heard of one).

I kind of think of it like this: Objectivists would fall in a "libertarian" place on a hypothetical political spectrum (by this I mean that, at the very least, everyone can agree that non-Objectivists would almost universally classify Objectivists as libertarians, whether or not the concept "libertarian" as well as "conservative" "liberal" and the rest are epistemologically justified, etc.). Similarly, an Objectivist is going to logically take positions in support of the development of any and all medical technologies to extend healthy life (with the obvious and I hope don't-actually-need-to-be-stated-explicitly restrictions against the use of force or fraud to achieve their development or use), as well as those that provide us with enhanced abilities of various sorts, etc. and so would be classified as a transhumanist by pretty much everyone else as a result of their positions. Now one can debate whether "transhumanism" is a valid/useful concept or not, just as one can about the names for various political orientations. But I think we can all agree that the support for the development and deployment of the sorts of technologies transhumanists call for (in the context of a free market absent any and all coercion) is an obvious application of Objectivist principles (whether or not one wants to call oneself a transhumanist).

I agree that extending life is a good thing but I have a problem with one point.

A transhumanist, as has been stated here, holds extending his life as the highest goal to him. This IMPLICITLY implies that he would act to steal the cancer cure if it meant saving his life and surviving the cancer.

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I don't get why two separate issues have been 'conflated'.

What is transhumanism witthout life prolongation?

What is life extension, without transhumanism?

If the OP had only advocated man doing his utmost to prolong life through biology and medicine, I can't see a single moral objection.

As it is, one thing has been smuggled in with the other.

btw, if there is any cult in the making - and this might be unfair - transhumanism, with its borrowed premises and principles, could be it.

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I don't get why two separate issues have been 'conflated'.

What is transhumanism witthout life prolongation?

What is life extension, without transhumanism?

If the OP had only advocated man doing his utmost to prolong life through biology and medicine, I can't see a single moral objection.

As it is, one thing has been smuggled in with the other.

btw, if there is any cult in the making - and this might be unfair - transhumanism, with its borrowed premises and principles, could be it.

This.

If you say that you would not fight for and steal the cancer cure, it is clear that you value SOMETHING over prolonging your life.

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I think you are right, whynot.

There is no reason to join such a mixture of people with contradicting philosophies.

I just wanted to share with you a brand of Transhumanism that takes borrowed Objectivist ethics to a new arena for debate, becasue Objectivist will sooner or later have to discuss these ideas, endorse them or oppose them.

Now, let me answer Grames why the claim of a mind-body dichotomy in my version of Howard Roarks on the edge of the cliff is absurd.

Mind-body dichotomy is a fallacy by which mind and body are put in opposition, belonging to different "realities".

Look how Ayn Rand refers to this dichotomy in Galt's speech(bold is mine)

"They have cut man in two, setting one half against the other. They have taught him that his body and his consciousness are two enemies engaged in deadly conflict, two antagonists of opposite natures, contradictory claims, incompatible needs, that to benefit one is to injure the other, that his soul belongs to a supernatural realm, but his body is an evil prison holding it in bondage to this earth—and that the good is to defeat his body, to undermine it by years of patient struggle, digging his way to that glorious jail-break which leads into the freedom of the grave."

And here, in For The New Intellectual

"The New Intellectual . . . will discard . . . the soul-body dichotomy. He will discard its irrational conflicts and contradictions, such as: mind versus heart, thought versus action, reality versus desire, the practical versus the moral. He will be an integrated man, that is: a thinker who is a man of action"

In my version of Howard Roarks, he is not planning to become a disemboddied ghost. He is not fighting his body, but helping it... rescueing it. He is planning to enhance his body under the command of reason. He wants to enhance his body beacuse he loves it and wants to live in his body. Beacuse it is an integrated part of him.

Since you love your body you take good care of it, and you keep it safe from disease and decay.

Notice, in the first quotation, how Ayn Rand states that the believers in mind-body dichotomy think in the grave as the ultimate freedom. This is quite interesting and powerful. Grave is the ultimate source of freedom for mystics of the muscle and the spirit.

For Objectivist continuous life, and not death, is the source of freedom.

I want to live forever in my body. This is why I will take care of it. I will free it from viruses as well as accumulated mutations (accumulated mutations are the hallmark of ageing). I will free it from a gangrenous appendix as well as a gangrenous leg, if necessary. I will incorporate new pieces into it, so that the net effect of those bionic pieces add value to the integrated entity. I will substitute a worn organ by a new organ. I will shape it and re-shape it constantly. I will make it more beautiful, as a faithful manifestation of my mind and life. I'll make of my body a piece of art. The body of a hero.

Edited by Hotu Matua
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This.

If you say that you would not fight for and steal the cancer cure, it is clear that you value SOMETHING over prolonging your life.

What is that SOMETHING, Make?

Duty? Heavens? The common good? The Ten Commandments?

What is that "something"?

It is life...a happy life.

But corpses cannot have a happy life.

So you first avoid becoming a corpse.

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Maken: What, in your mind, is the prime value in Objectivist ethics?

It is flourishing life which means "good" qua man. It does NOT imply the longest possible and to be prolonged for as long as possible "no matter the means".

If you agree with Objectivism that the initiation of force is wrong, then the answer to your proposal is that no, you shouldn't steal the cure even though it could save your life.

And this is exactly the point I was making in my previous post. Every Objectivist principle does not come isolated. It is to be understood and applied in the context of an entire reason and reality based ethical system. Objectivism not only identifies human values but also proper/ethical ways of achieving them.

That is not the case for Transhumanism or any philosophy of this kind. The goal of movements based on isolated ideas is to bypass the ethical constrains not only when they are irrational (like in the case of religious superstition) but also - and more importantly - when they are rational. It is absolutely "no matter the means" that those people are after.

When the constrains to technological medical advances are irrational - there is no need for a separate philosophical movement. The only thing needed is to show that they are in fact irrational. And all of this is even less of a problem in a free market system.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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Alright, well I don't know exactly what Hotu is advocating, whether or not he thinks survival at any cost is appropriate (I got a little of that sort of thing from his last post, but I'm certainly not willing to conclude that that is what he actually advocates).

Transhumanism has radical life extension (radical as in the aim is to live healthily for however long one wants to continue to live, be it 10 years, 100, 1000, or longer) as an essential part.

Other technological developments advocated by many transhumanists include:

-New senses, or the ability to overlay additional information on top of our present senses (as in my example of being able to overlay schematics on top of the actual motor you are looking at, or being able to see electromagnetic radiation that isn't in the visible spectrum without having to use specialized goggles (perhaps by having that information sent to you by computers), or by being able to access computer resources natively (like having some sort of a mathematical subroutine package connected to your brain, so that you can, say, produce numerical solutions to an equation natively and manipulate them in your mind in a similar manner that one might manipulate a simple algebra equation in one's mind).

-The ability to change one's appearance at whim. Examples include the ability to display information directly on one's skin, to change one's hair color or eye color by simply thinking about it or something along those lines. Alternatively some desire the ability to have novel bodily forms, like wings or whatever (I don't care for any of this except the information one perhaps).

-The ability to improve one's memory, perhaps by being able to create a digital repository of all the sensory information that you have, or simply by genetic engineering to improve the functioning of memory. Also, one might expand one's total intelligence somehow as well.

-The development of molecular manufacturing, with the aim of effectively eliminating scarcity in most goods (as large amounts of processing would not be necessary, such a molecular manufacturing plant would be able to produce anything essentially with no more than perhaps dirt and energy as resources- this seems feasible, at least in the longer term of 50+ years). Development of such devices would be pretty revolutionary, and cause huge economic growth.

-The development of artificial intelligence- both specialized (basically more advanced versions of the types of things we have already that analyze stock markets and the like) to general AI. One goal here is to create a totally artificial sapient life form (sapience is what people normally mean by sentience- self-aware and reasoning, along the lines of a human consciousness). Not sure about the usefulness of human-level AI, but more specialized artificial intelligences could take over operating factories, and even be able to provide various services like operating stores (like self-checkout machines, but complex enough to not freak out when you don't put something in the baggage area, to be able to look up prices of items, to recognize bananas and the like, etc.). This could lead to a huge economic boom as labor resources are no longer limited to the number of humans, or how long humans can work, etc.

-The most questionable I think is the desire to "upload" oneself into a computer, so that one might live indefinitely. Essentially, the idea is that one makes a scan of the brain and body in some way, and is able to convert it into a simulation able to be run by a very advanced computer, under the assumption that the simulation will still be the same person as it will (presumably) behave the same as the old person, etc. Alternatively, one might make "backups", so in case of catastrophic accident, one could be brought back only missing a few hours or days of memories (no worse than after a nasty concussion, say). All that has a lot of philosophical and scientific snarls in it, for example issues about volition, identity of a person, etc. and how all that would work. But that is one idea advocated by many (I'm iffy about whether it is even possible to perform such a scan in principle, and whether or not the "backup" version can really be said to be that person).

Transhumanism, as I said before, is the belief that we should use technology to enhance our abilities, and that this use shouldn't have a limit except that imposed by what will serve our interests. Honestly, the only one I could see an Objectivist advocating against is perhaps mind uploading, or the more radical alterations in appearance (like wings and things like that). In any case, I hope this helps answer whyNOT's objection. Transhumanists generally all advocate all but mind uploading, and many advocate uploading as well (though not an overwhelming majority or anything). Those are the things in common. Many are altruists or utilitarians, or are some type of socialist or mixed economy advocates. A large minority are pro-capitalists and individualists (though, as is common with society in general today, most are not rational egoists, though I think there is a larger proportion in transhumanism than in the culture at large; no idea about how many Objectivist-types though). But the fundamentals of transhumanism I think are fairly well summed up in advocating for the majority of the technological developments described above.

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