Rome and the coming Humanist/Transhumanist Divide.

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Rome and the coming Humanist/Transhumanist Divide.

Postby Publius Cassius Maro » Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:28 pm

So, I have wanted to write a piece for some time about Humanism, Trans-Humanism and the Cultural Empire of Rome. Unfortunately! I am running into a writers block that makes my attempts to write my thoughts out into something that always reads like a rant. So, In the lack of a proper way to lay out my complete thoughts (for now) I want this thread to be more an open forum on the topic. I want to hear your thoughts about Transhumanism and the Culture of Rome, how we should interact with this [ set of ] ideas. Let's start by defining the terms.

Transhumanism: " the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology." But in context, we are talking about the use of machines to either Augment or integrate with; fundamentally altering what it is to be human. - Some far reaching ideas about Transhumanism include the "uploading consciousness" idea. A big part of Transhumanism is Automation and the believe that Automating all forms of labor will free humanity, sometimes proposed in a spiritual tone.

Also in context:

Humanism is defined in antithesis to "Transhumanism" and argues instead that Technology must remain external, and while our ability to create technology is essential to being human, remaining human is the basis of Humanism ( in context).. And so it is also my beleive that while technology can enhance our labor and our longevity; Humanity requires for it self, gainful labor and to seek self improvement. Automation and Transhumanism Denies Humans those struggles and I view it as damaging both psychologically and spiritually.

What are your thoughts?
hic, hac, hoc.
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Re: Rome and the coming Humanist/Transhumanist Divide.

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:50 am

Salvete philosophi!

This is an unusual but interesting topic.
My general attitude towards transhumanism is positive, even if I do not like some aspects.
Automatisation is a different subject, but it is somehow related. I think complete automattion is in agreement with Roman life style. Different from us today for a Roman labor was not a honorable occupation. For patricians and senators only two kinds of occupation were acceptable: warfare and land ownership, i.e. agriculture. Most physical work was done by slaves and every Roman, like the Greeks before, desired to be free of work, so he could pass his spare time in the public baths or with conversations in the forum or at dinner parties or other social events.
So future robots could replace the slaves that were essential for Roman life style and create a society similar to the one aspired by most Romans.

Transhumanism is a question that concerns human evolution. It is a fact that evolution will not stop with today's Homo sapiens. Transhumanism is one possibility, but the other one is more scaring. We should not take intelligence for granted in our species. There is a considerable danger that we could lose this faculty again in a few millennia. The average IQ is currently declining at a rapid speed. We are not as intelligent anymore as the ancient Greek or Romans, which can easily be seen in the difference of complexity of ancient languages like Grek and Latin or even Old Saxon, from which English developed, and modern languages with rather simple grammar. Very few people today would have the capability to become ever fluent in Latin. The language of today's yputh is even more simplified and primitive, which we can see in the chat conversations. Humanity is intellectually declining and we will not be able to continue our technological advances, if nothing is done about it. There is a real danger of our descendants living in trees or caves again looking for fruits as only food supply.
The so called " technological singularity" and the arrival of transhumanism could stop this development. It could be a big jump in human evolution.
However I already dislike many of its aspects like people all the time looking into their smart phones instead of participating in their physical environment. But it is probably because I belong into a different time, not because it is something inherently bad.

I am not sure, if the rejection of transhumanism can be properly called "humanism", because this refers to an ethical system from the Age of Enlightenment that places humanity as the highest value and led to human rights and our current political system. The proper term for rejecting transhumanism would probably be Neo-Luddism.

To be honest our Republic has already done the first step into a transhuman world and introduced Romanitas into it. Like other similar groups before our Republic is rather of a virtual nature even with virtual factions for the ludi. There have been virtual Roman worlds in Second Life started by Nova Roma, if I am not mistaken. And one day, when mind-uploading becomes possible, we may live in a virtual Roman Empire again.
So in a way our community has already given their approval to this new transhuman world. Apparently Romanitas will have its place in it.

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Re: Rome and the coming Humanist/Transhumanist Divide.

Postby Tiberius Publicius Gracchus » Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:42 am

Well, I am not sure if I understand what you mean by transhumanism, but I will tell you my opinion of what the effect of technology has been on some humans. We have become soft. Our ancestors could live off the land, survived many hardships, including disease, the elements. They hunted, fished, foraged, and waged war. The wars of the past included a much larger percentage of the population then they do today. I am not saying this is a bad thing, just stating facts. These days, with the exception of soldiers and farmers, and those who know how to live off the land, how many people do you think could survive real hardship? Hell, some people panic if there is a freaking bug in the house! We have driven wild animals to the verge of extinction and are placing an incredible burden on the planet. There are some people who are prepared for hardship. Soldiers and those who served in the military. Farmers. People who do manual labor for a living. You can tell they are a lot tougher than those of us who have cushy desk jobs... Back in the day, virtually everyone was a manual laborer. I am not saying everyone is soft, but enough of us are that I fear what would happen if we ever experience a real crisis.
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Re: Rome and the coming Humanist/Transhumanist Divide.

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:03 pm

Fortunately this "softness" is only temporary and can be reverted, when the conditions of life become harder.
This softening is something that people can experience during their life time in just a few years. I have experienced it after my retirement just a 6 years ago. It is not so much a loss of skills and physical fitnesy, but rather a diminished ability to take risks. If you have a pleasant life, you do not want to lose it, so you start playing everything safe.
When the city of Capua surrendered to Hannibal in the Second Punic War, the comfort of the urban life enjoyed by the Carthaginian solders made same also soft in just a few months. It is often attributed to this fact that Hannibal's winning streak ended after this victory. His soldiers lost their readiness for battle and his Italian campaign came to a standstill.

Therefore I think sotness is a temporary phenomenon. It can happen in a relatively short period of time, but can be overcome, when the conditions become harsher. It does not affect entire generations or the whole life of a person. There are no people who are their whole life tough because they once were soldiers or farmers, they are only tough as long as they are in this occupation. The skills to be learned for being a soldier or farmer are very few. And if it was really necessary, an office worker could be turned into a soldier within a few months.

But there is a more profound problem, and it affects humanity as a whole. It is the genetic decline of the human race. The general decline of the average IQ cannot be reverted by a few highly intelligent specialists in the population. Our entire population is less intelligent and physically healthy than e.g. the Greeks in the time of Socrates. The spread of genetic defects, which is most likely the underlying reason for it, is due to a lack of natural selection, which is an essential mechanism of evolution.

This is an issue where transhumanism could help. Genetic engineering can reverse the genetic decline and eliminate genetic defects from a population. So we do not need to make the conditions of life harder, take away medical healthcare and bring back natural selection and survival of the fittest. We can solve the problem in a civilized way by eliminating defective genes from the genome one by one. So each generation would become more intelligent and more healthy. In some way we need to counterbalance the lack of natural selection that comes automatically with higher standards of civilization. Forcing people to become farmers or starting a war to get more soldiers and have a more stringent natural selection should not be the way.
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Re: Rome and the coming Humanist/Transhumanist Divide.

Postby Gaia Cassia Longina » Wed Feb 22, 2017 1:54 pm

Salvete omnes,

Very interesting debate going on!

Here is what I would like to add seeing that IQ's and phenomena: What is Knowledge?

Phenomena as First-Person Observance

Phenomena have been in question since the beginning of philosophy. Different philosophers have had diverse ideas about how to deal with phenomena. However, three of the most distinct philosophers in phenomenology are Husserl, Peirce, and Heidegger. All three have unique ways of explaining sensations and how self-observation can lead to the truth behind the phenomena.

First, Husserl begins by stating that the subject of knowledge is the living, universal ego, using the tool of self-observation. When objects appear to us, we have an immediate reaction to them and that reaction can be used to understand the world. The pure state of consciousness is established by a non-bias view of our first reaction – before one recognizes or labels the object. This first person consciousness has to be correlated with something outside. Before one can define any object, one places different internationalities upon them, then these diverse intentions – whether they are one’s wishes, emotions, views – are correlated to the world. These distinctive internationalities are universal, although different. This idea of the universal internationalities upon an object is quite transcendental: all minds work like our own. Husserl’s definition of phenomenology is theoretical, and only used to understand one’s internationalities.

In finality to Husserl’s views, nothing exists outside our observation. The world is correlative to those different views and internationalities of oneself.

The second philosopher is Peirce. Peirce relies on his assertion of pragmatism: the acts or effects of one’s reaction to a stimulus. He states that this reaction is not blind – it is cognitive. The body, after receiving a stimulus, knows something as the stimulus is caused. He asserts that perception judges and knows, not the mind. The action of the mind (through perception) is not passive even if it is wrong.

He continues by explaining that knowledge of the world is an illusion but the truth is the relationships with the world. This statement means that in Peirce’s view, appearance is never ignored. He then endures his argument by saying that nothing is original in the mind – it is all the lingering impressions made by stimuli.

Peirce defines knowledge as action, belief, and effects. Truth is the knowledge of these effects, but one can never know the causes. Through emotions and expectations, one gives meanings to experiences. The phenomena, or the stimuli of different experiences, result in the formation of meanings.

In conclusion to Peirce, his idea of the self-observation as the “truth” is basically the notion that the time before any reaction to an object- without intentions – is the true definition of that object: the pure essence.

Lastly, Heidegger has a similar view of phenomena. He states that being is not independent of consciousness. Being cannot be solved, only remembered. He thinks that nothing exists outside our observation, like his predecessor, Husserl. For him, truth is what is not hiding, but at the same time, he asserts that it becomes clear that no one can master the truth. As such, the Universe exists without us observing it – but we are part of it and “inside” the Universe.

These three philosophers have three clear ideas, however, they do reflect some of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard.

Kierkegaard stresses the importance of self-relation to the world – first person observation. In his Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments (Bob Zunjic, Soren Kierkegaard: Concluding Unscientific Postscript: The Subjective Truth Outline) , that “truth is subjectivity,” and that “subjectivity is truth.” For Kierkegaard, the importance of self is the key to understanding the world, where the subject is grounded in self-reflection and introspection.

With reference to Nietzsche as well, Nietzsche’s ideas were the starting point to some of these philosophers. Nietzsche argues that emotional observation (clearly in the first person view) is the key to understanding. Nietzsche states that humans are purely emotional beings and that, of course, emotions are useful for our existence and rational choices. Humans make choices based off of emotions first, then logic, in order to make a choice. Naturally, this basis of emotion clearly shows a first person basis of understanding the world around us.

All of these philosophers share a similar grounding, but just as time changes things, the views were altered throughout time. However, all these philosophers would argue that first-person observation, whether it be through emotion or our sight, is the way to the truth and understanding the world.

This means, in essence, that since technology is directly linked into what we put in it (we program computers, we write articles that end up online, we write on this Forum, etc.). So does this mean technology is flawed because our views can be flawed? How will this alter/change the seemingly "perfect" computers?

Keep thinking,
C Cassia Longina
Gaia Cassia Longina

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