Khonsu wrote:Honestly, I don't think The Fountain's purpose was to explain why death is inevitable and why you shouldn't tamper with the most inevitable of certainties--The Fountain was about accepting that a loved one is gone and not wasting your last hours with them by trying to save them from something they have already accepted.
Honestly, to me, Transhumanism feels like an obsessive, non-offensive version of eugenics. Eugenics is the belief that some people are inferior for genetic reasons (ethnicity, disability, etc) and eugenicists from Alexander Graham Bell to Mengele (and there is evidence that Bell's eugenicist groups inspired the Nazis, especially in their treatment of the Deaf) have long studied on how to use technology, law, and class to control and 'raise up' the 'untouchables' and 'trainables' of society; transhumanism is to believe that the human body is intrinsically and irreparably flawed and, in the very assumptive idea that nature cannot do its job, we start adding bells and whistles to ourselves until we reach the saturation point and (in science-fiction) we don't even die. In eugenics, fueled by hate, scientists hope to 'raise up' a sector of society. In transhumanism, fueled by fear of death and pain, scientists hope to 'raise up' everyone.
Let me ask you a question: if you could live forever, what would you do? Wouldn't you get bored? What if people continued to have children, but no one ever died? Isn't that just asking for disaster? Would some people get bored and OPT to die? How many people can we really trust to do the noble thing and snuff it for the good of the environment, etc.? What if humanity becomes entirely complacent? The entire impetus for genius is the necessity of change. If no one gets ill, dies, or suffers anymore (which is what Transhumanism ultimately hopes to achieve), how can we ever continue to push the envelope? Rethink ourselves? Would we need to? Wouldn't we just end up like Fahrenheit 451? Complacent?
I'd rather die than be complacent. Luckily for me, transhumanism is not yet reality and I never have to fear living forever. Imagine the social ramifications--religion would be pointless, faith would extinguish, morality would end, and thus ethics would suffer as well or become so inflated as to collapse under its own weight. The basis of all cultures is to cheat death. When death is out of the equation...the variables disintegrate.
I am all for augmenting the living to improve the quality of life, but I believe Transhumanism's ultimate goal of eradicating all pestilence, suffering, and death is far too sanitizing and idealist. Yes, the transman or the body modder or the man with a prosthetic leg or the woman who uses in-vitro--these examples are technology and its social tendrils affecting our biology and how we view ourselves. All of these instances are fine in my book, because they do not cheat death.
To me, there are some natural processes we have to accept. The body is suited for our environment if we were to get back in touch with our environment. Humans are social creatures, and intelligent; advanced society was inevitable. We are not above other pack animals, we merely evolved differently. Society complicated things, and we became complex with it. Now we feel that we are imperfect, and that somehow, imperfection is bad. That pain is bad. That death is a 'disease to be cured' to quote Tom Creo (in the aforementioned Aronofsky film). Personally, I feel that hardship and humanity's unique adaptation to hardship is what makes us human. Maybe that's naive of me to say, but I feel that to end hardship would be to make a lot of our struggles and our triumphs seem pointless, which dangerously sounds like nihilism, which is another philosophy I feel is flawed, but that's another discussion entirely.
Man, imagine a nihilist with transhumanist roots. That's just wacky.
I've never read the fountain, but this post is pretty much where I'm going to start with my methods.
First, transhumanism is not about the flaws of the human body, it's more about accepting that there is room for improvement. There is a subtle difference, saying we are flawed is to say we must be corrected, whereas if there is room for improvement it's up to us to decide how-or if-we will do that.
If I could live forever what would I do? Whatever I damn well please. Boredom only enters into it if you can't imagine. If people continue to have children, we take more territory to support them, and we boost our food yielding capabilities to heights they've never seen. Would some people opt to die? Yes, they would indubitably, immortality is not mandatory. We can't trust anyone to snuff it for society, we just go on, making certain that even if nobody snuffs it nobody will be forced to. H+ is pushing the envelope. H+ doesn't have a destination, it's just an un-ending path in whatever direction we bloody well feel like, at no point would we stop reinventing ourselves, at no point will we need to reinvent ourselves. I haven't read F451, but suffice it to say, it doesn't really matter what we do, dystopia is just around the corner at this rate, worrying about how we would be under H+ is a moot point if we don't have the infrastructure to become a decent H+ society. It's not some idealistic thing, it won't be a reality the way things are going, but people have to work bloody hard if it will succeed.
Religion *is* pointless. Once you stop thinking of religion as necessary for holding the moral order (because it's not), you realize religion doesn't serve any useful purpose in society. The ramifications are nonexistant, because it would invoke no change. As for cheating death, I certainly don't feel that as the basis for my morality, that's the thing really, you have to trust people to not be completely self-serving. I-and most people here I imagine-are good-natured and are good moral people solely because we feel it is the right thing to do. Not for fear of punishment.
Santization and idealism, it may be the former, but it is not the latter. It is entirely possible that we are making things too easy, but the idea is that it won't really matter. As for it being idealistic, it certainly isn't, because it is entirely possible, and not oversimplified to the point of ignoring flaws. Everyone knows it isn't going to be easy to do, and will still be flawed long after we achieve some semblance of it, but we just have to keep working on it. That makes it pragmatic more than anything else, but with a lofty goal.
Nihilism is a dangerous toy, too much nihilism and you get depressed and mopey, just the right amount and you gain the energy of freedom. And your achievements will still matter, sure, you won't have something as impressive as narrowly avoiding death, but people will still be different, there will still be conflict and clashes of ideas, and that's all you need to be accomplished at something. We are not perfectly adapted, as you are well aware. Both of us cannot (or thereabout) carry children, because we are small people, and the human body never completed the evolutionary processes necessary to give birth to our massive craniums (amongst other problems, in general and for you and me). We overcome all of this with our mastery of technology. Technology is free evolution in a way, adapting in ways we wouldn't have normally, allowing us to really find Earth a paradise.
-End Khonsu counter-
Okay, it's like this to me, Transhumanism is really something quite different from anything we describe.
People in H+ are unique, more unique than we ever were, as there is no set path, no direct mandatory improvement. You can be what you want to be, because H+ is not just human improvement, it's expressing yourself by changing your body. Along with the ability to extend our lifespan comes, oh, I dunno, perhaps the ability to grow another arm. I'm not saying it's likely those two will be connected, but that is not the point.
Basically, body mod and transhumanism go hand-in-hand to me. We're trying to improve on our bodies, well, we might as well express ourselves whilst we're at it. It's going to happen anyway, designer eyeballs or something. In fact, transhumanism to me is nothing more than body mod also working to add on to our original abilities and improve our health. Body mod with a healthy attitude if you will.
Whew... I'm done.