The Attraction of transhumanism and the repugnancy of political debate.

February 26, 2006

I’ve become tired of political as well as economical discussion. These two debates are quite possibly the most discussed throughout the US if not the world. However, each of them are more prone to poor mentalities. People who discuss politics, and I include myself here, fall victim to personal bias, massive assumptions and speculatory conclusions, as well as a great lack of information. And the information that they do obtain is often scrutinzed to the point of disbelief. It can be distorted and created ex nihilo. We may take comfort in the idealistic belief that since we vote, we make a difference. We do. But it’s pathetic at best. In our democratic society the people hold the power. The elected hold more power than most. But the individual voter’s impact is only fractional (1 over the voting population to be exact). However, we wouldn’t like to have it any other way. The same thing which causes younger voters to give up on the political system is the same thing which gives us all the power of our country. The singular 0.0000000001 percent of power the individual holds is made much more powerful by the fact that they still make a difference even if it’s as small as that fraction.

In economical discussions, I’ve found, after reading Juliet Schor’s book “Do American’s Shop too Much?” and her essay “Understanding the New Consumerism”, are prone to gross generalizations, binary propositions, unfounded or stereotypical assumptions, and conclusions/solutions which never meet fruition. To dumb it down, every economists argument is either innacurate by being incomplete or innacurate by being false. These are still “fun” debates, mainly because they are inherently opinionated. Their weakest link is the individual.  Politics boils down to what the individual thinks is “right” or “just.” “Who do you want to vote for? Economics boil down to what the individual thinks is “accurate” or “applicable.” “Am I this American?” With all these sloppy thoughts and pony justifications, why bother?
Which is why I’ve recently been more attracted to the road less traveled. The no-longer-hypothetical concept of transhumanism, fyborg/cyborg, cyberization/cybernetics, and intelligence are that much more interesting and relieving to talk about. Granted, it is probably more speculational than politics and economics combined but only from a hypothetical stance. We can now talk about transhumanism in a real-world sense and a futuristic hypothetical/speculational sense. In a real world atmosphere we are free to discuss how pacemakers have saved lives, how the mechanical cochlea has given the deaf hearing, the sacredness of privacy and individual freedom through the cyberization of RFID chips. Media, as well as advertising, has become the new world’s environment and motive.
From the hypothetical point of view we may speculate how this environment will evolve and what consequences would we face. If we face human cyberization (a human becoming more physiologically dependant on electronics) what will the definition of “life” or “death” be if the heart and body stops but a cybernetic brain remains to function? Will choice be proven to be a strictly human trait or merely an illusion? Will parallel processing result in the realization of the Jungian theory of “collective unconscious”?

In all importance, the one idea I want to emphasize is the utility of debating various topics. Politics and economics is important and it’s vital they be discussed at length. But we will develop an Achilles heel if it is our only topic.  When I realized this I noticed that I had a great attraction to ideas and concepts I hadn’t confronted.. such as “nothingness.” When I confronted those thoughts it openned up other doors and forms of thoughts such as Nishida Kitaro’s philosophy of basho. I am glad to have taken the road less traveled.

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