The quest for Simplistic Immortality, that of “I stay I and no one can affect it” makes every person, every phenomena, and the entire universe either the Immortalist’s enemy or slave.
... Transhumanism that focuses on Simplistic Immortality isn’t really transhuman at all – that’s the joke, really. It’s the screaming of a child that want’s his way.
Our back-and-forth on this subject has touched on a whole slew of different issues, but it's this last line that got me thinking: What do we really mean by "growth", "maturity", "evolution", etc.? If transhumanism is about transcending, what does it mean to "transcend ourselves", other than to brag about having a spiritual trophy to polish?
I might have just answered my question right there. The whole point of growth is not to have to rely on obvious external rewards as a sign that you're doing the right thing.
A while back I had a (now scrapped) blog post where I talked about how anyone engaged in a creative endeavor really needs to take a good, hard look at their motives. Never do anything, I wrote, just because you want to get patted on the back for it.
This impulse isn't easy to recognize, either, because it comes in the guise of so many other things. It's not even all that bad when it's intermixed with other things, either, because that means it's no longer the dominant impulse. But if it comes to call too many of the shots, then it becomes a hazard.
Growth isn't about just becoming smarter, because intelligence is too often equated with the mere ability to manipulate information. Real smarts is when you know what to do when you don't know what to do, as others have said — and that includes spiritual behaviors as well. Being mature includes being comfortable with doing nothing at all.
Steven has talked about how the Buddhist concept of the various realms of spirit (Santayana comes back to mind with that phrase) are meant to inspire in a person a sense of the responsibility of being a human being. The idea is not to aspire to be reborn as a god, or to revile being reborn as an insect, because those are not things you can plan for in the way you can plan and execute a trip to Austin. And, more importantly, the point is to not look for motivations that involve patting yourself on the back — or being patted on the back — for "doing the right thing".
To understand that doing the right thing is its own reward is a higher form of transcendence than many other things, because it makes possible a whole realm of things that come from nowhere but within. Power over the material world, including one's own body, cannot make up for what lacks on the inside.
Now let me push the discussion even further: Is it possible that the transhumanist mission will make it all the easier to do just this? It might, but so far I haven't seen evidence that it will. There might well come a time when we have a working technocratic approach to spiritual needs, but so far I don't see it.
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