Transhuman Page


Cultural Sphere

 

Philosophy

Seek those who find your road agreeable, your personality and mind stimulating, your philosophy acceptable, and your experience helpful. Let whose who do not, seek their own kind.
Henri Fabre
Transhumanism is no dogmatic, rigid philosophy with a fixed system of thought or goals defined once and for all. Instead it is a conglomerate of different memes which fit rather well together and support each other without competing too much. This page makes an attempt to link to some of these memes, or to memes which transhumanists tend to support for various reasons.

Sections

Transhumanist Philosophy
Introductions
Definitions, Manifestos and Influential Texts
Transhumanistic Ideas
Dynamical Optimism
Metaphysics
Epistemology
Long-Range Politics
Ethics
Ethics of Self-Transformation
Ethics of Complexity
Game Theory and Ethics
Ethics of different Transhuman Projects
Human Development
Identity
Genetics
Scepticism and Rational Thinking
Technology
General Philosophy
Humanism
Religion
Other Sites
Books
See Also

 

Transhumanist Philosophy

Introductions

On Becoming Posthuman by Max More. Discusses the reasons to seek to transcend the current Human Condition to reach Posthumanity.

Transhumanism by Greg Burch. A concise and readable introduction to the transhumanist way of thinking.

Toward new ideologies by FM-2030.

Definitions, Manifestos and Influential Texts

The Transhumanist Principles

Definitions of Transhumanism

Definišão de "trans-humanismo" by Nicholas Bostrom, translated by Gustavo Muccillo Alves.

The Extropian Principles V. 3.0 (1999) by Max More.

The Extropian Principles V. 2.6 (1995) by Max More.

The Extropian Principles V. 2.5 (1993) by Max More.

Transhumanism: Towards a Futurist Philosophy, Max More.

Foundations of Transhumanism. Largely under construction, but looks very promising.

The Cybernetic Manifesto from Principia Cybernetica.

The Future of Evolution node in Principia Cybernetica.

The World, the Flesh & the Devil, an Enquiry into the Future of the Three Enemies of the Rational Soul, by J. D. Bernal (1929). A classic text that describes an early vision of transhumanism .

Engineered Evolution by Max Hunter.

Transhumanistic Ideas

Some Musings on Quality in Transhumanism Are the goals of transhumanism quantitative or qualitative?

The Parable of the Three Fishermen by Sean Hastings. Giving up makes the chance of loosing 100%.

On Learning How To Swim Can humanity learn how to swim?

The Monkey Cage. Another transhumanist parable.

The Memetics of Transhumanism

Meaningfulness and Mortality, by Max More (Cryonics #125, vol.12, no.2, February 1991). Would life become meaningless without death?

Self-Ownership: A Core Transhuman Virtue, by Max More.

Dynamical Optimism

Dynamic Optimism by Max More. A readable introduction to dynamically optimist thinking.

A Comment on the Interplay Between Dynamic Optimism and Self Organization by Alex Bokov.

Dynamic Optimism by David Musick


Metaphysics

While transhumanism is to a large extent firmly empirical, metaphysical questions are commonly debated especially in conjunction with uploading, xoxing and the extreme limits of physics.

Metaphysics in Principia Cybernetica

Platonic Materialism

One metaphysical position that has been suggested mainly by people involved with AI, uploading and computer science is that every possible mathematical system has real existence, forming an ensemble.

Simulation, Consciousness, Existence Hans Moravec (Telepolis).

Die Wirklichkeit ist ein Konstrukt des Bewu▀tseins by Hans Moravec (Telepolis). Is reality a simulation? Maybe that is the most likely possibility.

A Computer Scientist's View of Life, the Universe and Everything by Jürgen Schmidthuber. Is the universe computable? Then it might be cheaper in terms of information to compute all computable universes instead of just one.

Permutation City by Greg Egan explores some of these ideas in fictional form.


Epistemology

Epistemology in Principia Cybernetica

Pancritical Rationalism: An Extropic Metacontext for Memetic Progress by Max More (Proceedings of Extro-1 1994). Why care for epistemology as a transhumanist, and what to base it on.

Computational Epistemology Nick Gessler's Web Site.


Long-Range Politics

Cosmism: Nano Electronics and 21st Century Global Ideological Warfare by Dr. Hugo de Garis . A somewhat pessimistic outlook on the risks of conflict between the 'cosmists' (essentially transhumanists seeking to expand intelligence with no limit) and the 'terrestrialists' (who seek to keep mankind and Earth dominant). Contains an appendix dealing with evolving brains based on cellular automata. Great food for thought.

Extraterrestrial Politics by Michael A. G. Michaud (Cosmic Search Vol. 1 No. 3).


Ethics

Ethics is one of the most hotly debated subjects among transhumanists. As we strive towards trans- and posthumanity, many issues become important such as what rights and responsibilities we have towards other entities, the ethics of self-transformation, genetic engineering and cognitive enhancement.

Ethics node in Principia Cybernetica.

Extropian Ethics and the "Extrosattva" by Greg Burch.

Morals by Agreement by David Gauthier reviewed by Eric Watt Forste (Extropy 14.)

Ethics of Self-Transformation

Bioethics.net. About the ethics of genetic engineering. See especially Choose Better Human Genes b y Howard Holme and Pragmatism and Genetic Engineering by Glenn McGee.

The Hedonistic Imperative by Dave Pearce. Argues for the ethics of hedonism, and the abolition of all aversive experience.

The Ethics of Cognitive Engineering by Eliezer S. Yudkowsky. A controversial essay about the ethics of cognitive engineering in children.

Enhancement Technologies Group.

Ethics of Complexity

Synopsis of Bringing Life to the Stars by David Duemler. A philosophical text which addresses the question "Should we bring life to the rest of the solar system, or, if possible, to the rest of the galaxy?".

Metasystem Transition Theory node in Principia Cybernetica.

Living Systems by Alexander Chislenko. About the similarities between different types of complex systems and living beings.

Beyond vegetarianism by Anders Sandberg. About vegetarianism, ethics and transhumanism. See also Transhuman Vegetarian Ethics (collected by Mitch Porter) which was based on a small email debate between Anders Sandberg and David Pearce due to the text.

Game Theory and Ethics

One interesting possibility is that much of ethics can be derived from economics and game theory - acting in a cooperative, altruistic manner ("being good") might be rational even for selfish individuals, it is simply the most profitable way to act. If this is true, then much of practical ethics can be based on empirical and logical facts instead of appeals to an a priori ethics.

Selfishness and Altruism by Zhahai Stewart (Musings of a Meme Gardener #4, March 1995).

An Ethic Based on the Prisoner's Dilemma (The Ethical Spectacle September 1995)

A Rational Justification for Ethical Behavior (The Ethical Spectacle Vol. II, No. 4 April 1996)

Economics and Game Theory. Many links to economics and game theory.

Iterated Prisoners Dilemma. Site about the most famous game theoretic scenario with applications in ethics. Contains links to simulation software.

Strategy and Conflict: An Introductory Sketch of Game Theory by Roger A. McCain .

Prisoner's Dilemma, an interactive game with links.

Chaos, cheating and cooperation: potential solutions to the Prisoner's Dilemma by Bj÷rn Brembs.

"A Rational Life" A Discussion of the Peculiar Consequences of Individuals Living in Groups by Leon Felkins.

Social Dilemma papers at Xerox Parc.

Prisoners' Dilemma Mailing List

Related to this issue is the sociobiological basis of ethics. While the relative importance of cultural influence and individual choice is likely much stronger than the genetic aspects, there is little doubt that evolution has provided us with an emotional system and deeply seated social behaviors that have ethical relevance.

The Biological basis of Morality by E.O. Wilson (The Atlantic)

Ethics of different Transhuman Projects

The Terraforming Debate -- If There Isn't Life on Mars, Should We Put Some There? by Walter Truett Anderson (Jinn, 08-30-96). A short article about the problem of terraforming: if we can do it, should we?

Manufacturing an Evolutionary Event. Should we spread life into the universe?

Implications of Creation by David Hiebler. A paper asking "if we are successful at creating artificial life, then what do we need to worry about?"

Moral Dilemmas Concerning the Ultra Intelligent Machine Dr. Hugo de Garis, Calls for the development of a moral philosophy dealing with artificial intelligence.

Did HAL Commit Murder? by Daniel C. Dennett . What about the moral culpability of artificial entities?

Robots and Rights: the Ethical Demands of Artificial Agents by Matthew Elton.

Alien Consciousness - Philosophical Problems Chris Lucas


Human Development

There is no doubt that transhumanism challenges traditional notions of identity, the definition of human, mankinds role in the universe and the limits of responsibility.

The Future of Man by Sir Peter Medawar. About our responsibility for our own evolution.

Cybernetic Immortality node in Principia Cybernetica.

Super- and/or Meta-beings node in Principia Cybernetica.

The Hedonistic Imperative by David Pearce. An outline of a global strategy of abolishing aversive experience and its ethics.

Beyond the Machine: Technology and Posthuman Freedom by max More (Proceedings of Ars Electronica 1997). Are humans machines? And if we are, maybe it is a good thing?

Identity

Brain Death and Technological Change: Personal Identity, Neural Prostheses and Uploading by James J. Hughes Ph.D.

Drifting Identities by Alexander Chislenko. Discusses the questions of evolution contra identity, and introduces the idea of an "identity space".

The Diachronic Self, Ph. D. thesis by Max More. About personal identity.

The Calculus of Identity. A semi-mathematical framwork for discussing questions of identity.

Genetics

Embracing Change with All Four Arms: A Post-Humanist Defense of Genetic Engineering by J. Hughes Ph.D. A very good discussion of the ethics of genetic engineering of humans from a transhumanist perspective.

Can Human Genetic Enhancement Be Prohibited? by William Gardner. The author is anti-enhancement, but his discussion of why a ban on genetic enhancements will be unstable appears reasonable.

Fatalist Attraction The dubious case against fooling Mother Nature by Virginia I. Postrel (Reason).

Cloning and Genome Rights. Manifesto from the The Participant Evolutionist Movement.

See also Genetic Enhancements on the Physical Enhancement Page


Scepticism and Rational Thinking

Transhumanism encourages sceptical and rational thinking; there have been nothing more limiting than superstitions, faith in authorities, pseudosciences and simple stupidity in the history of humanity. Since transhumanists are always interested in exploring radical new technologies and ideas, it becomes doubly important to be able to distinguish truth from falsehoods.

The Secular Web. A virtual library of information on nontheistic worldviews, including agnosticism, atheism, freethought, humanism, and secularism.

The Skeptic's Dictionary A dictionary of paranormal and sceptical subjects with discussion, often quite funny.

The Church of Virus. A memetically designed religion with transhumanist ideas.

Twenty Science Attitudes

A Field Guide to Critical Thinking by James Lett. How to think critically.

See also Critical Thinking on the Intelligence Page


Technology

Technology is the tool transhumanism intends to use for self-transformation.

Predictions from Philosophy? by Nicholas Bostrom. How analytical philosophers could help forecast our technological future.

Theoretical Applied Science by Nick Szabo.

The Weapon of Openness by Arthur Kantrowitz. A defense of openness, showing why it is the best defense of democracy.

The Nerd in the Noosphere by Michael Heim. About the conflict between virtual and real, and possible ways to resolve it.

See also The General Technology and Policy Page


General Philosophy

Other philosophy, more or less linked to transhumanism.

Quotes from Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse. The world isn't a zero-sum game, and it is not finite.

The Principia Cybernetica Project. The Project's aim is the computer-supported collaborative development of an evolutionary-systemic philosophy. In many cases it overlaps with Transhumanism.

The New Meme by David Brin. An essay about the memetics of critical thinking, science, optimism and tolerance.

The Three Laws of Arthur C. Clarke. Three useful mental tools.

My Comments on Tipler's Theories. Tipler's Omega Point Theory is an interesting attempt to found a new discipline of "physical escatology". Transhumanism intends to make it an engineering discipline.

The Human Evasion by Ceila Green. A witty attack on 'sanity', the normal state of human thinking that doesn't dare to explore reality beyond conventional wisdom.

No New Ideas? George Orwell. Yes, there are new ideas.

Humanism

Oration on the Dignity of Man by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. The paragraph beginning with "We have given you, O Adam, no visage proper to yourself" expresses the renaissance version of transhumanism quite well.

What is Humanism? by Frederick Edwords. A good explanation.

Religion

Natural or Scientific Pantheism: a religious approach to nature and the cosmos. by Paul Harrison. A modern form of pantheism that deeply reveres the universe and nature and joyfully accepts and embraces life, the body and earth, but does not believe in any supernatural deities, entities or powers. Seems to be quite compatible with transhumanism.

The Truth: The Universe Is A Growing God. This seems to be the first real transhumanist religion I have encountered (with the exception of the Church of Virus above). Vaguely related to the Omega Point theory or the evolutionary scheme in David Zindell's books.

Load and Run High-tech Paganism-Digital Polytheism by Timothy Leary and Eric Gullichsen. Reality hacking, it from bit, magick as programming and posthumanity.

Other Sites

Arkuat's meme workshop. Pancritical Rationalism, memetics and philosophy links.

Books

See also

Introduction Page
The Omega Point Page
Self Transformation
Futurism Page
Linguistics Page
Memetics Page
Terminology Page


Anders Sandberg / asa@nada.kth.se
2000-03-11