The strange ideologies of Anti-humanism and Trans-humanism
In all these years I've been aware of you and read you, you're arguments on transhumanism haven't really strenghtened. Don't get me wrong I'm no transhumanist because I think there are major problems with the concept. But that doesn't mean they haven't got a point on some of the problems baked into the character of existence.
Gah there's so many things here. I'm disappointed because around things like Phil of Science and philosophy from you.
For example it just seems like you haven't really engaged with the thinking when you put Benatar as opponent of Bostrom. When in fact they actually have the same ethical concerns. In other words if Bostrom's transhumanist project could remove some of the clearly horrible aspects of life Benatar would jump on.
Or I mean going after Ray Kurweil of all people. Talk about low hanging fruit.
Or even the title of the piece. Why would the world end if humans disappeared? You'd love Patricia MacCormack. Altho I don't agree with her evaluation of Nature good, humans intrinsically bad.
You haven't actually read or grasped what Benatar has said it seems very clear to me. He never ever says the Universe would be better off without us. Like never. His position is on the ethics of procreation as far as an individual is concerned. He concludes that for the person that will exist it would be better they never existed in the first place.
The logical consequence is of course that a species that took that position en masse would go extinct. Benatar even says this isn't likely at all! Benatar never claims that extinction is valuable in and of itself. So it would seem you've struck down a strawman.
Now what you've actually got to demonstrate is why the continued existence of one particular species is far more important such that it outweighs the cost of the very real and ghastly suffering individuals do go through. Either way given our understanding of the world all species go extinct. Am I wrong?
"Ethics, after all, is the study of how to live a good, productive, meaningful life as a human being, that is as a social being capable of reason."
Isn't this just your definition of ethics so you can promote your preferred outlook aka Stoicism?
About "according to whom" questions: what stops us or them from interpreting it as "we anti-humanists think that world would be better off without us according to us" or "we trans-humanists think that humanity should evolve further because we value human intellect"?
Perhaps you can expound on the difference between Teleology and Teleonomy, if you haven't already. I'd love to get your thoughts on it.
A lovely philosophical perspective on the degrowth (Anti-humanist) and techno-optimist (Trans-humanist) ways of conceptualising the major challenges we’re facing today. A humorous exploration between these two perspectives, more narrowly focused on the interface between climate change science and policy making, is portrayed by Roger Pielke Jr in his article Defund the Economy - The marvellous, muddled mess that is "degrowth" https://open.substack.com/pub/rogerpielkejr/p/defund-the-economy?r=hbtw3&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email Especially funny is the video with Hans Rosling’s story about his grandmother’s reaction to his mother’s first ever washing machine. Let’s go back to washing clothes by hand as in the good ol’ days.
I'm not worried about AI taking over as there's no I in it anyway. It is lookup tables. Very clever look up tables, but the only I is put in by the people who construct (a.k.a, train) them.
Anti-humanism and trans-humanism remind me of a line in the song "Con la frente marchita" by Joaquin Sabina: "No hay nostalgia peor que añorar lo que nunca jamás sucedió" ("There is nothing worse than nostalgia for what never happened").
To me Trans-humanism is just another immortality project of the wealthy, much like cryonics, which surprisingly is still a thing. As a society it seems we spend more time trying not to die than actually living.
What if Fusion Energy allows humans to value ad to nature, for example to create bio diversity where nature deposited desert.
Lovely and relevant piece, thank you Massimo.
I’ve no real locus to post a recommendation here, so please take the following as a personal observation on my part.
Much of my thinking on futurism and transhumanism had crystallised a while ago (reads vaguely pompous - apologies), but I very much enjoyed the journalistic insights and musings if Mark O’Connell in his “Notes from an Apocalypse“ - it was an unexpected pleasure. With kind regards, John
Interesting (as usual) analysis. I consider myself a humanist, and when told by others that that seems to mean I value humans more than other organisms or that I'm prejudiced or that I'm a species-ist, I say, "Yep." Should Earth be preserved for the sake of the birds or the koalas or the roaches? Not if it's up to me.
“Despite some excesses, environmentalism has always held the scientific as well as moral high grounds.”
I think in the actual historical record, environmentalism has always had a strong strain of anti-human sentiment, starting with the Malthus, through the eugenics era, through the Club of Rome, to current versions of misanthropic environmentalism.
The current iterations are just secular versions of the Fallen State narrative, an ancient cosmology of Western thought manifest in the apocalypse eschatology of the Judeo-Christian culture. This worldview always include fantasies of massive human suffering as punishment for offending God, in this case tampering with the optimal state of nature. And it always includes a path to salvation for the select few, in this case through AI.
There seems to be a real problem with trans-humanism as a new opium of the masses, being as it is dangerously adopted by multi-millionaire jerks and potentially millions of ambitious smart and unwise young people. Anti-humanism, however, is so depressing that it'll just probably die out with its childless promoters ;-)