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H+ Links

H+ is short for transhumanism, which is something I've studied in various forms since adolescent ventures into Ralph Waldo Emerson's remarkable essays.  Today the H+ movement is focused on scientific methods of improving the human condition.  Properly understood, H+ should be about total transcendece of mind and body.  

Transcendence of mind sounds pseudo-scientific until you think: Why do you believe most of what you believe?  Where did your ideals on "morality" come from?  Were you sitting on a mountain top when your moral ideas formed?  Chances are, you were inculturated - which is different from brainwashing, how? - into whatever value system you hold.  I did not suddenly decide that an invisible force impregnated a virgin who gave birth to a son who soon became a zombie.  I could never have been so creative.  And yet for a good part of my life, that is what I believed.

And what other stuff do people believe?  Look at politics.  Why are you a Democrat or a Republican?  What is the unifying themes of these politico-religious organizations?  There are no themes.  Yet people proudly proclaim party affiliation - as if this proves anything other than a dependence of mind, and obedience to a power elite.  

Let's even get to the banal.  Years ago Gerry Spence made a great point about the banality of slavery.  Why eat cereal for breakfast?  Why not eat chili?  Why are some foods breakfast foods?  It's pretty silly.  Yet we develop these patterns without ever asking if those patterns are in our best interest.  (Most people would be far better off having beans-and-beef for breakfast than blood-sugar-spiking Frosted Flakes.)

Why, I wonder, eat a muffin for breakfast?  How is that different from cake?  Both contain flour, sugar, and butter.  Both similar nutritional profiles.  And yet you'd consider eating cake for breakfast as odd.  How remarkable!

Most of our beliefs are unexamined, and thus transcendence is simply understood as moving past - which often means the painful profess of breaking through - culture.  If you want to eat cake for breakfast, how delicious.  Why would I stop you?  Yet if you think eating a muffin is different from eating cake, we cannot be friends.

With that introduction, here are some transhumanist questions:

1.  Why sit in a chair?  FuturePundit (a book-marked blog) notes that sitting down is deadly:

Think you can safely sit for many hours if you just get yourself a Hermann Miller Aeron chair then you are all set to sit for long hours? Nope, not that easy. Sitting is the problem. Worse yet, the classic 90 degree sitting angle is bad. Yup, all that advice about sitting up straight and rectangular was wrong. Those ram-rod straight sitters were all damaging their metabolism. 

As I work from home, I sit on a couch with pillows propping me up.  I probably look lazy.  Why?  Why is laying down and thinking lazy?  Why is working from a reclining chair or couch lazy?  It makes no sense, and yet people would righteously - always so righteous! - attack my health-improving habits - even though getting my work done is never a problem.

If you're not writing, why not leave the office and walk?  Walking and thinking is how Plato and Aristotle discussed philosophy.  It is not possible - indeed, superior - to think about legal matters while walking?  Why sit in a chair, killing yourself, when there are superior ways of working?

It's because if you're not in your office, you're lazy.  You're shamming.  (This is the case even though most workers hide in their offices playing Solitaire all day.)  It's cultural programming.  It's thoughtless.  It's deadly.  

2.  Why grow old gracefully?   How is having nagging joints, losing muscle, and gaining fat in my best interest?  How is age-related cognitive decline in my best interest?  

And yet people think I'm crazy for claiming that Sylvester Stallone is a model for aging gracefully.  Why is falling down a breaking one's hip graceful?  

There are drugs men and women can take - starting at about 35-40 - that will improve cognition and increase overall vitality.  The common fools call these drugs steroids, and declare that using steroids [sic] is immoral, unnatural, and unethical.  


Is is unethical or unnatural to use cancer-fighting drugs?  To have a dentist put a heat-forged drill in your mouth to carve out - natural? - disease and rot?  And to apply paste to hold a porcelain cap to your chipped tooth?

Is is unnatural for a diabetic to inject pig - pig! - insulin to regulate blood sugar?  Why not just die of diabetes?  It's natural, right?

What is difference, then, between injecting synthetic testosterone and human growth hormone and injecting insulin?  Because doctors claim that aging is "natural"?  Who defines natural?  And why are others allowed to define natural for you?

Transhumanism is the recognition that what we consider "natural" or "human" need to be reconsidered - and, where possible, transcended. It is not a philosophy of values, but instead of a philosophy of choices.