The Trap of Numbness and Self-Satisfaction

I've still been thinking about some of the questions we've been picking over in the discussion of David Brook's new book and attempts to alter personality/moral character through pharmacology.  I'm sure some of my friends are delighted to find that there are transhumanist ideas I'm uncomfortable with, and I've been trying to nail down why.To refresh your memory, Tristyn asked: What if there was a drug that made you kinder, more charitable, more forgiving? Let's say even that it has some … [Read more...]

Drinking Death Upon Yourself

Patrick had an interesting observation on the comment thread of my post on jump discontinuities in identity (whether induced by prayer or otherwise): As for discontinuity of identity while asleep... I suffer that every night, and I suspect everyone else does too. I can't remember the moment of falling asleep. There is a period of time between laying down in bed and actually falling asleep that I experience every night, but which I am incapable of remembering. Likewise I have dreams but only … [Read more...]

Inducing a Moral Jump Discontinuity (A thought experiment)

Tristyn of Eschatological Psychosis jumps the line by prefacing her comment on my review of Brook's The Social Animal with 'TRANHUMANIST QUESTION.'  I am powerless to resist.  Here's what she asked: So, we have established that if, in fact, holding warm beverages makes you nicer, going out of your way to find a warm beverage before interacting with an annoying person is acceptable to you. Seems fairly reasonable, though (I think) clearly in a closer-to-ideal world we wouldn't need such c … [Read more...]

The Body and Buggy Software

Christian of The Thinking Grounds has posted a new installment in his series on defining the body.  His focus this go-round is on debunking the idea that the body can be simply defined as that which is obedient to our will.  He goes through a couple of examples of bodies that are subject to limited control but are still accepted as ours, including bodies stricken by paralysis, conjoined twins and two-headed snakes, or involuntary physical motions.I'm still deciding whether I actually dis … [Read more...]

David Brooks and the Social Automaton

After reading my slam on David Brooks's The Social Animal, Dylan had some objections: "Other than the fact that it's terribly, terribly written and completely expository (it makes the Emile, on which it is clearly modeled, look like an actual novel by comparison), what's so "yikes" about the exact passage you excerpted? Can you really be such a HP&TMoR fan/transhumanist and also think that treating so-called "cognitive biases" as limitations to be overcome is tantamount to "unweaving the … [Read more...]

Sorry, did someone say ‘Transhumanism?’

You may think no one's mentioned transhumanism on the blog lately, but then you haven't been keeping a close eye on the comments thread for "Time for a Few Facts," my attempt to clarify some of the factual disputes driving the fight about appropriate uses of sacrilege.  You're also probably not looking for any excuse to bring up transhumanism (unlike me!), so dbp's analogy about the Eucharist and replacement knee joints may have passed you by.I don't want to address the analogy; I want to ta … [Read more...]

Fun and Games with Minds and Brains

There have been a bunch of interesting comments already on my post on Mind/Brain division, so I'm pulling some out here to reply to in depth.dcb wrote I have to agree that this is a hard sell to me. I am not an atheist, so perhaps there is something big that I am missing, but if the physical basis for the you-program is lost, in what sense is the "ported" version still you? Sure, it might think it is you, but wouldn't that be basically a figment of its reconstructed imagination? This is … [Read more...]


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