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Ayn Rand Was Wrong about Human Nature – Evonomics

Posted: December 4, 2016 at 11:30 pm

By Eric Michael Johnson

Every political philosophy has to begin with a theory of human nature, wrote Harvard evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin in his book Biology as Ideology. Thomas Hobbes, for example, believed that humans in a state of nature, or what today we would call hunter-gatherer societies, lived a life that was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short in which there existed a war of all against all. This led him to conclude, as many apologists for dictatorship have since, that a stable society required a single leader in order to control the rapacious violence that was inherent to human nature. Building off of this, advocates of state communism, such as Vladimir Lenin or Josef Stalin, believed that each of us was born tabula rasa, with a blank slate, and that human nature could be molded in the interests of those in power.

Ever since Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand has been gaining prominence among American conservatives as the leading voice for the political philosophy of laissez-faire capitalism, or the idea that private business should be unconstrained and that governments only concern should be protecting individual property rights. As I wrote in Slate with my piece Ayn Rand vs. the Pygmies, the Russian-born author believed that rational selfishness was the ultimate expression of human nature.

Collectivism, Rand wrote in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is the tribal premise of primordial savages who, unable to conceive of individual rights, believed that the tribe is a supreme, omnipotent ruler, that it owns the lives of its members and may sacrifice them whenever it pleases. An objective understanding of mans nature and mans relationship to existence should inoculate society from the disease of altruistic morality and economic redistribution. Therefore, one must begin by identifying mans nature, i.e., those essential characteristics which distinguish him from all other living species.

As Rand further detailed in her book The Virtue of Selfishness, moral values are genetically dependent on the way living entities exist and function. Because each individual organism is primarily concerned with its own life, she therefore concludes that selfishness is the correct moral value of life. Its life is the standard of value directing its actions, Rand wrote, it acts automatically to further its life and cannot act for its own destruction. Because of this Rand insists altruism is a pernicious lie that is directly contrary to biological reality. Therefore, the only way to build a good society was to allow human nature, like capitalism, to remain unfettered by the meddling of a false ideology.

Altruism is incompatible with freedom, with capitalism and with individual rights, she continued. One cannot combine the pursuit of happiness with the moral status of a sacrificial animal. She concludes that this conflict between human nature and the irrational morality of altruism is a lethal tension that tears society apart. Her mission was to free humanity from this conflict. Like Marx, she believed that her correct interpretation of how society should be organized would be the ultimate expression of human freedom.

Ayn Rand was wrong about altruism. But how she arrived at this conclusion is revealing both because it shows her thought process and offers a warning to those who would construct their own political philosophy on the back of an assumed human nature. Ironically, given her strong opposition to monarchy and state communism, Rand based her interpretation of human nature on the same premises as these previous systems while adding a crude evolutionary argument in order to connect them.

Rand assumed, as Hobbes did, that without a centralized authority human life would erupt into a chaos of violence. Warfarepermanent warfareis the hallmark of tribal existence, she wrote in The Return of the Primitive. Tribes subsist on the edge of starvation, at the mercy of natural disasters, less successfully than herds of animals. This, she reasoned, is why altruism is so pervasive among indigenous societies; prehistoric groups needed the tribe for protection. She argued that altruism is perpetuated as an ideal among the poor in modern societies for the same reason.

It is only the inferior men that have collective instinctsbecause they need them, Rand wrote in a journal entry dated February 22, 1937. This kind of primitive altruism doesnt exist in superior men, Rand continued, because social instincts serve merely as the weapon and protection of the inferior. She later expands on this idea by stating, We may still be in evolution, as a species, and living side by side with some missing links.

Rands view that social instincts only exist among inferior men should not be dismissed as something she unthinkingly jotted down in a private journal. In two of her subsequent booksFor the New Intellectual and Philosophy: Who Needs It?, where it even serves as a chapter headingRand quips that scientists may find the missing link between humans and animals in those people who fail to utilize their rational selfishness to its full potential. How then does Rand explain the persistence of altruistic morality if human nature is ultimately selfish? By invoking the tabula rasa as an integral feature of human nature in which individuals can advance from inferior to superior upwards along the chain of life.

Man is born tabula rasa, Rand wrote in her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, all his knowledge is based on and derived from the evidence of his senses. To reach the distinctively human level of cognition, man must conceptualize his perceptual data (by which she means using logical deductions). This was her solution to the problem of prosocial behavior and altruism among hunter-gatherer societies.

For instance, when discussing the social instinctdoes it matter whether it had existed in the early savages? Rand asks in her journal on May 9, 1934. Supposing men were born social (and even that is a question)does it mean that they have to remain so? If man started as a social animalisnt all progress and civilization directed toward making him an individual? Isnt that the only possible progress? If men are the highest of animals, isnt man the next step? Nearly a decade later, on September 6, 1943, she wrote, The process here, in effect, is this: man is raw material when he is born; nature tells him: Go ahead, create yourself. You can become the lord of existenceif you wishby understanding your own nature and by acting upon it. Or you can destroy yourself. The choice is yours.

While Rand states in Philosophy: Who Needs It? that I am not a student of the theory of evolution and, therefore, I am neither its supporter nor its opponent, she immediately goes on to make claims about how evolution functions. After aeons of physiological development, the evolutionary process altered its course, and the higher stages of development focused primarily on the consciousness of living species, not their bodies (italics mine). Rand further expands on her (incorrect) views about evolution in her journal:

It is precisely by observing nature that we discover that a living organism endowed with an attribute higher and more complex than the attributes possessed by the organisms below him in natures scale shares many functions with these lower organisms. But these functions are modified by his higher attribute and adapted to its functionnot the other way around. Journals of Ayn Rand, July 30, 1945.

One would have to go back to the 18th century (and Aristotle before that) to find a similar interpretation of nature. This concept of the great chain of being, brilliantly discussed by the historian Arthur Lovejoy, was the belief that a strict hierarchy exists in the natural world and species advance up natures scale as they get closer to God. This is an odd philosophy of nature for an avowed atheist, to say the least, and reflects Rands profound misunderstanding of the natural world.

To summarize, then, Rand believed in progressive evolutionary change up the ladder of nature from primitive to advanced. At the higher stages of this process (meaning humans) evolution changed course so that members of our species were born with a blank slate, though she provides no evidence to support this. Human beings therefore have no innate social instinctselsewhere she refers to it as a herd-instinctthat is, except for primordial savages and inferior men who could be considered missing links in the scale of nature. Never mind that these two groups are still technically human in her view. Selfishness is the ideal moral value because superior men are, by definition, higher up the scale of being.

Logic was essential to Ayn Rands political philosophy. A contradiction cannot exist, she has John Galt state in Atlas Shrugged. To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in ones thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate ones mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality. I couldnt agree more. However, Rand may have had more personal reasons for her philosophy that can help explain her tortured logic. As she was first developing her political philosophy she mused in her journal about how she arrived at her conclusion that selfishness was a natural moral virtue.

It may be considered strange, and denying my own supremacy of reason, that I start with a set of ideas, then want to study in order to support them, and not vice versa, i.e., not study and derive my ideas from that. But these ideas, to a great extent, are the result of a subconscious instinct, which is a form of unrealized reason. All instincts are reason, essentially, or reason is instincts made conscious. The unreasonable instincts are diseased ones. Journals of Ayn Rand, May 15, 1934.

This can indeed be considered strange. Looking deep within yourself and concluding that your feelings are natural instincts that apply for the entire species isnt exactly what you would call objective. It is, in fact, the exact opposite of how science operates. However, she continues and illuminates her personal motivations for her ideas.

Some day Ill find out whether Im an unusual specimen of humanity in that my instincts and reason are so inseparably one, with the reason ruling the instincts. Am I unusual or merely normal and healthy? Am I trying to impose my own peculiarities as a philosophical system? Am I unusually intelligent or merely unusually honest? I think this last. Unlesshonesty is also a form of superior intelligence.

Through a close reading of her fictional characters, and other entries in her journal, it appears that Rand had an intuitive sense that selfishness was natural because thats how she saw the world. As John Galt said in his final climactic speech, Since childhood, you have been hiding the guilty secret that you feel no desire to bemoral, no desire to seek self-immolation, that you dread and hate your code, but dare not say it even to yourself, that youre devoid of those moral instincts which others profess to feel.

In Rands notes for an earlier, unpublished story she expresses nearly identical sentiments for the main character. He [Danny Renahan] is born with, she writes, the absolute lack of social instinct or herd feeling.

He does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning or importance of other people. (One instance when it is blessed not to have an organ of understanding.) Other people do not exist for him and he does not understand why they should. He knows himselfand that is enough. Other people have no right, no hold, no interest or influence on him. And this is not affected or chosenits inborn, absolute, it cant be changed, he has no organ to be otherwise. In this respect, he has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel other people. (Thats what I meant by thoughts as feelings, as part of your nature.) (It is wisdom to be dumb about certain things.)

I believe a strong case could be made that Ayn Rand was projecting her own sense of reality into the minds of her fictional protagonists. Does this mean that Rand was a sociopath? Diagnosing people in the past with modern understandings of science has many limitations (testing your hypothesis being chief among them). However, I think its clear that Ayn Rand did not have a strongly developed sense of empathy but did have a very high opinion of herself. When seen through this perspective, Rands philosophy of Objectivism and her belief in the virtue of selfishness look very different from how she presented it in her work. When someones theory of human nature is based on a sample size of 1 it raises doubts about just how objective they really were.

Update: A point that has been brought up repeatedly is that Ayn Rand used a different definition of altruism than what is standard in biology and so therefore what I wrote is invalid. This is incorrect. To clear up any confusion, Ayn Rand relied on Auguste Comtes definition from his Catchisme Positiviste (1852) where he advocates laltruisme sur lgosme (altruism over egoism) because, he writes, vivre pour autrui fournit le seul moyen de dvelopper librement toute lexistence humaine (to live for others provides the only means to develop freely throughout human existence). The biological definition of altruism is not only consistent with Comte, it subsumes his definition and makes it testable and, one would think, more objective.

2015 September 21

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Ayn Rand Was Wrong about Human Nature – Evonomics

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Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom …

Posted: at 11:25 pm

Three weeks ago, around a quarter of the American population elected a demagogue with no prior experience in public service to the presidency. In the eyes of many of his supporters, this lack of preparation was not a liability, but a strength. Donald Trump had run as a candidate whose primary qualification was that he was not a politician. Depicting yourself as a maverick or an outsider crusading against a corrupt Washington establishment is the oldest trick in American politics but Trump took things further. He broke countless unspoken rules regarding what public figures can or cannot do and say.

Every demagogue needs an enemy. Trumps was the ruling elite, and his charge was that they were not only failing to solve the greatest problems facing Americans, they were trying to stop anyone from even talking about those problems. The special interests, the arrogant media, and the political insiders, dont want me to talk about the crime that is happening in our country, Trump said in one late September speech. They want me to just go along with the same failed policies that have caused so much needless suffering.

Trump claimed that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were willing to let ordinary Americans suffer because their first priority was political correctness. They have put political correctness above common sense, above your safety, and above all else, Trump declared after a Muslim gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. I refuse to be politically correct. What liberals might have seen as language changing to reflect an increasingly diverse society in which citizens attempt to avoid giving needless offence to one another Trump saw a conspiracy.

Throughout an erratic campaign, Trump consistently blasted political correctness, blaming it for an extraordinary range of ills and using the phrase to deflect any and every criticism. During the first debate of the Republican primaries, Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Trump how he would answer the charge that he was part of the war on women.

Youve called women you dont like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals, Kelly pointed out. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees

I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct, Trump answered, to audience applause. Ive been challenged by so many people, I dont frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesnt have time either.

Trump used the same defence when critics raised questions about his statements on immigration. In June 2015, after Trump referred to Mexicans as rapists, NBC, the network that aired his reality show The Apprentice, announced that it was ending its relationship with him. Trumps team retorted that, NBC is weak, and like everybody else is trying to be politically correct.

In August 2016, after saying that the US district judge Gonzalo Curiel of San Diego was unfit to preside over the lawsuit against Trump Universities because he was Mexican American and therefore likely to be biased against him, Trump told CBS News that this was common sense. He continued: We have to stop being so politically correct in this country. During the second presidential debate, Trump answered a question about his proposed ban on Muslims by stating: We could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem.

Trump and his followers never defined ‘political correctness, or specified who was enforcing it. They did not have to

Every time Trump said something outrageous commentators suggested he had finally crossed a line and that his campaign was now doomed. But time and again, Trump supporters made it clear that they liked him because he wasnt afraid to say what he thought. Fans praised the way Trump talked much more often than they mentioned his policy proposals. He tells it like it is, they said. He speaks his mind. He is not politically correct.

Trump and his followers never defined political correctness, or specified who was enforcing it. They did not have to. The phrase conjured powerful forces determined to suppress inconvenient truths by policing language.

There is an obvious contradiction involved in complaining at length, to an audience of hundreds of millions of people, that you are being silenced. But this idea that there is a set of powerful, unnamed actors, who are trying to control everything you do, right down to the words you use is trending globally right now. Britains rightwing tabloids issue frequent denunciations of political correctness gone mad and rail against the smug hypocrisy of the metropolitan elite. In Germany, conservative journalists and politicians are making similar complaints: after the assaults on women in Cologne last New Years Eve, for instance, the chief of police Rainer Wendt said that leftists pressuring officers to be politisch korrekt had prevented them from doing their jobs. In France, Marine Le Pen of the Front National has condemned more traditional conservatives as paralysed by their fear of confronting political correctness.

Trumps incessant repetition of the phrase has led many writers since the election to argue that the secret to his victory was a backlash against excessive political correctness. Some have argued that Hillary Clinton failed because she was too invested in that close relative of political correctness, identity politics. But upon closer examination, political correctness becomes an impossibly slippery concept. The term is what Ancient Greek rhetoricians would have called an exonym: a term for another group, which signals that the speaker does not belong to it. Nobody ever describes themselves as politically correct. The phrase is only ever an accusation.

If you say that something is technically correct, you are suggesting that it is wrong the adverb before correct implies a but. However, to say that a statement is politically correct hints at something more insidious. Namely, that the speaker is acting in bad faith. He or she has ulterior motives, and is hiding the truth in order to advance an agenda or to signal moral superiority. To say that someone is being politically correct discredits them twice. First, they are wrong. Second, and more damningly, they know it.

If you go looking for the origins of the phrase, it becomes clear that there is no neat history of political correctness. There have only been campaigns against something called political correctness. For 25 years, invoking this vague and ever-shifting enemy has been a favourite tactic of the right. Opposition to political correctness has proved itself a highly effective form of crypto-politics. It transforms the political landscape by acting as if it is not political at all. Trump is the deftest practitioner of this strategy yet.

Most Americans had never heard the phrase politically correct before 1990, when a wave of stories began to appear in newspapers and magazines. One of the first and most influential was published in October 1990 by the New York Times reporter Richard Bernstein, who warned under the headline The Rising Hegemony of the Politically Correct that the countrys universities were threatened by a growing intolerance, a closing of debate, a pressure to conform.

Bernstein had recently returned from Berkeley, where he had been reporting on student activism. He wrote that there was an unofficial ideology of the university, according to which a cluster of opinions about race, ecology, feminism, culture and foreign policy defines a kind of correct attitude toward the problems of the world. For instance, Biodegradable garbage bags get the PC seal of approval. Exxon does not.

Bernsteins alarming dispatch in Americas paper of record set off a chain reaction, as one mainstream publication after another rushed to denounce this new trend. The following month, the Wall Street Journal columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz decried the brave new world of ideological zealotry at American universities. In December, the cover of Newsweek with a circulation of more than 3 million featured the headline THOUGHT POLICE and yet another ominous warning: Theres a politically correct way to talk about race, sex and ideas. Is this the New Enlightenment or the New McCarthyism? A similar story graced the cover of New York magazine in January 1991 inside, the magazine proclaimed that The New Fascists were taking over universities. In April, Time magazine reported on a new intolerance that was on the rise across campuses nationwide.

If you search ProQuest, a digital database of US magazines and newspapers, you find that the phrase politically correct rarely appeared before 1990. That year, it turned up more than 700 times. In 1991, there are more than 2,500 instances. In 1992, it appeared more than 2,800 times. Like Indiana Jones movies, these pieces called up enemies from a melange of old wars: they compared the thought police spreading terror on university campuses to fascists, Stalinists, McCarthyites, Hitler Youth, Christian fundamentalists, Maoists and Marxists.

Many of these articles recycled the same stories of campus controversies from a handful of elite universities, often exaggerated or stripped of context. The New York magazine cover story opened with an account of a Harvard history professor, Stephan Thernstrom, being attacked by overzealous students who felt he had been racially insensitive: Whenever he walked through the campus that spring, down Harvards brick paths, under the arched gates, past the fluttering elms, he found it hard not to imagine the pointing fingers, the whispers. Racist. There goes the racist. It was hellish, this persecution.

In an interview that appeared soon afterwards in The Nation, Thernstrom said the harassment described in the New York article had never happened. There had been one editorial in the Harvard Crimson student newspaper criticising his decision to read extensively from the diaries of plantation owners in his lectures. But the description of his harried state was pure artistic licence. No matter: the image of college students conducting witch hunts stuck. When Richard Bernstein published a book based on his New York Times reporting on political correctness, he called it Dictatorship of Virtue: Multiculturalism and the Battle for Americas Future a title alluding to the Jacobins of the French Revolution. In the book he compared American college campuses to France during the Reign of Terror, during which tens of thousands of people were executed within months.

None of the stories that introduced the menace of political correctness could pinpoint where or when it had begun. Nor were they very precise when they explained the origins of the phrase itself. Journalists frequently mentioned the Soviets Bernstein observed that the phrase smacks of Stalinist orthodoxy but there is no exact equivalent in Russian. (The closest would be ideinost, which translates as ideological correctness. But that word has nothing to do with disadvantaged people or minorities.) The intellectual historian LD Burnett has found scattered examples of doctrines or people being described as politically correct in American communist publications from the 1930s usually, she says, in a tone of mockery.

The phrase came into more widespread use in American leftist circles in the 1960s and 1970s most likely as an ironic borrowing from Mao, who delivered a famous speech in 1957 that was translated into English with the title On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.

Until the late 1980s, ‘political correctness’ was used exclusively within the left, and almost always ironically

Ruth Perry, a literature professor at MIT who was active in the feminist and civil rights movements, says that many radicals were reading the Little Red Book in the late 1960s and 1970s, and surmises that her friends may have picked up the adjective correct there. But they didnt use it in the way Mao did. Politically correct became a kind of in-joke among American leftists something you called a fellow leftist when you thought he or she was being self-righteous. The term was always used ironically, Perry says, always calling attention to possible dogmatism.

In 1970, the African-American author and activist Toni Cade Bambara, used the phrase in an essay about strains on gender relations within her community. No matter how politically correct her male friends thought they were being, she wrote many of them were failing to recognise the plight of black women.

Until the late 1980s, political correctness was used exclusively within the left, and almost always ironically as a critique of excessive orthodoxy. In fact, some of the first people to organise against political correctness were a group of feminists who called themselves the Lesbian Sex Mafia. In 1982, they held a Speakout on Politically Incorrect Sex at a theatre in New Yorks East Village a rally against fellow feminists who had condemned pornography and BDSM. Over 400 women attended, many of them wearing leather and collars, brandishing nipple clamps and dildos. The writer and activist Mirtha Quintanales summed up the mood when she told the audience, We need to have dialogues about S&M issues, not about what is politically correct, politically incorrect.

By the end of the 1980s, Jeff Chang, the journalist and hip-hop critic, who has written extensively on race and social justice, recalls that the activists he knew then in the Bay Area used the phrase in a jokey way a way for one sectarian to dismiss another sectarians line.

But soon enough, the term was rebranded by the right, who turned its meaning inside out. All of a sudden, instead of being a phrase that leftists used to check dogmatic tendencies within their movement, political correctness became a talking point for neoconservatives. They said that PC constituted a leftwing political programme that was seizing control of American universities and cultural institutions and they were determined to stop it.

The right had been waging a campaign against liberal academics for more than a decade. Starting in the mid-1970s, a handful of conservative donors had funded the creation of dozens of new thinktanks and training institutes offering programmes in everything from leadership to broadcast journalism to direct-mail fundraising. They had endowed fellowships for conservative graduate students, postdoctoral positions and professorships at prestigious universities. Their stated goal was to challenge what they saw as the dominance of liberalism and attack left-leaning tendencies within the academy.

Starting in the late 1980s, this well-funded conservative movement entered the mainstream with a series of improbable bestsellers that took aim at American higher education. The first, by the University of Chicago philosophy professor Allan Bloom, came out in 1987. For hundreds of pages, The Closing of the American Mind argued that colleges were embracing a shallow cultural relativism and abandoning long-established disciplines and standards in an attempt to appear liberal and to pander to their students. It sold more than 500,000 copies and inspired numerous imitations.

In April 1990, Roger Kimball, an editor at the conservative journal, The New Criterion, published Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted our Higher Education. Like Bloom, Kimball argued that an assault on the canon was taking place and that a politics of victimhood had paralysed universities. As evidence, he cited the existence of departments such as African American studies and womens studies. He scornfully quoted the titles of papers he had heard at academic conferences, such as Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl or The Lesbian Phallus: Does Heterosexuality Exist?

In June 1991, the young Dinesh DSouza followed Bloom and Kimball with Illiberal Education: the Politics of Race and Sex on Campus. Whereas Bloom had bemoaned the rise of relativism and Kimball had attacked what he called liberal fascism, and what he considered frivolous lines of scholarly inquiry, DSouza argued that admissions policies that took race into consideration were producing a new segregation on campus and an attack on academic standards. The Atlantic printed a 12,000 word excerpt as its June cover story. To coincide with the release, Forbes ran another article by DSouza with the title: Visigoths in Tweed.

These books did not emphasise the phrase political correctness, and only DSouza used the phrase directly. But all three came to be regularly cited in the flood of anti-PC articles that appeared in venues such as the New York Times and Newsweek. When they did, the authors were cited as neutral authorities. Countless articles uncritically repeated their arguments.

In some respects, these books and articles were responding to genuine changes taking place within academia. It is true that scholars had become increasingly sceptical about whether it was possible to talk about timeless, universal truths that lay beyond language and representation. European theorists who became influential in US humanities departments during the 1970s and 1980s argued that individual experience was shaped by systems of which the individual might not be aware and particularly by language. Michel Foucault, for instance, argued that all knowledge expressed historically specific forms of power. Jacques Derrida, a frequent target of conservative critics, practised what he called deconstruction, rereading the classics of philosophy in order to show that even the most seemingly innocent and straightforward categories were riven with internal contradictions. The value of ideals such as humanity or liberty could not be taken for granted.

It was also true that many universities were creating new studies departments, which interrogated the experiences, and emphasised the cultural contributions of groups that had previously been excluded from the academy and from the canon: queer people, people of colour and women. This was not so strange. These departments reflected new social realities. The demographics of college students were changing, because the demographics of the United States were changing. By 1990, only two-thirds of Americans under 18 were white. In California, the freshman classes at many public universities were majority minority, or more than 50% non-white. Changes to undergraduate curriculums reflected changes in the student population.

The responses that the conservative bestsellers offered to the changes they described were disproportionate and often misleading. For instance, Bloom complained at length about the militancy of African American students at Cornell University, where he had taught in the 1960s. He never mentioned what students demanding the creation of African American studies were responding to: the biggest protest at Cornell took place in 1969 after a cross burning on campus, an open KKK threat. (An arsonist burned down the Africana Studies Center, founded in response to these protests, in 1970.)

More than any particular obfuscation or omission, the most misleading aspect of these books was the way they claimed that only their adversaries were political. Bloom, Kimball, and DSouza claimed that they wanted to preserve the humanistic tradition, as if their academic foes were vandalising a canon that had been enshrined since time immemorial. But canons and curriculums have always been in flux; even in white Anglo-America there has never been any one stable tradition. Moby Dick was dismissed as Herman Melvilles worst book until the mid-1920s. Many universities had only begun offering literature courses in living languages a decade or so before that.

In truth, these crusaders against political correctness were every bit as political as their opponents. As Jane Mayer documents in her book, Dark Money: the Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Bloom and DSouza were funded by networks of conservative donors particularly the Koch, Olin and Scaife families who had spent the 1980s building programmes that they hoped would create a new counter-intelligentsia. (The New Criterion, where Kimball worked, was also funded by the Olin and Scaife Foundations.) In his 1978 book A Time for Truth, William Simon, the president of the Olin Foundation, had called on conservatives to fund intellectuals who shared their views: They must be given grants, grants, and more grants in exchange for books, books, and more books.

These skirmishes over syllabuses were part of a broader political programme and they became instrumental to forging a new alliance for conservative politics in America, between white working-class voters and small business owners, and politicians with corporate agendas that held very little benefit for those people.

By making fun of professors who spoke in language that most people considered incomprehensible (The Lesbian Phallus), wealthy Ivy League graduates could pose as anti-elite. By mocking courses on writers such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, they made a racial appeal to white people who felt as if they were losing their country. As the 1990s wore on, because multiculturalism was associated with globalisation the force that was taking away so many jobs traditionally held by white working-class people attacking it allowed conservatives to displace responsibility for the hardship that many of their constituents were facing. It was not the slashing of social services, lowered taxes, union busting or outsourcing that was the cause of their problems. It was those foreign others.

PC was a useful invention for the Republican right because it helped the movement to drive a wedge between working-class people and the Democrats who claimed to speak for them. Political correctness became a term used to drum into the public imagination the idea that there was a deep divide between the ordinary people and the liberal elite, who sought to control the speech and thoughts of regular folk. Opposition to political correctness also became a way to rebrand racism in ways that were politically acceptable in the post-civil-rights era.

Soon, Republican politicians were echoing on the national stage the message that had been product-tested in the academy. In May 1991, President George HW Bush gave a commencement speech at the University of Michigan. In it, he identified political correctness as a major danger to America. Ironically, on the 200th anniversary of our Bill of Rights, we find free speech under assault throughout the United States, Bush said. The notion of political correctness has ignited controversy across the land, but, he warned, In their own Orwellian way, crusades that demand correct behaviour crush diversity in the name of diversity.

After 2001, debates about political correctness faded from public view, replaced by arguments about Islam and terrorism. But in the final years of the Obama presidency, political correctness made a comeback. Or rather, anti-political-correctness did.

As Black Lives Matter and movements against sexual violence gained strength, a spate of thinkpieces attacked the participants in these movements, criticising and trivialising them by saying that they were obsessed with policing speech. Once again, the conversation initially focused on universities, but the buzzwords were new. Rather than difference and multiculturalism, Americans in 2012 and 2013 started hearing about trigger warnings, safe spaces, microaggressions, privilege and cultural appropriation.

This time, students received more scorn than professors. If the first round of anti-political-correctness evoked the spectres of totalitarian regimes, the more recent revival has appealed to the commonplace that millennials are spoiled narcissists, who want to prevent anyone expressing opinions that they happen to find offensive.

In January 2015, the writer Jonathan Chait published one of the first new, high-profile anti-PC thinkpieces in New York magazine. Not a Very PC Thing to Say followed the blueprint provided by the anti-PC thinkpieces that the New York Times, Newsweek, and indeed New York magazine had published in the early 1990s. Like the New York article from 1991, it began with an anecdote set on campus that supposedly demonstrated that political correctness had run amok, and then extrapolated from this incident to a broad generalisation. In 1991, John Taylor wrote: The new fundamentalism has concocted a rationale for dismissing all dissent. In 2015, Jonathan Chait claimed that there were once again angry mobs out to crush opposing ideas.

Chait warned that the dangers of PC had become greater than ever before. Political correctness was no longer confined to universities now, he argued, it had taken over social media and thus attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old. (As evidence of the hegemonic influence enjoyed by unnamed actors on the left, Chait cited two female journalists saying that they had been criticised by leftists on Twitter.)

Chaits article launched a spate of replies about campus and social media cry bullies. On the cover of their September 2015 issue, the Atlantic published an article by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff. The title, The Coddling Of the American Mind, nodded to the godfather of anti-PC, Allan Bloom. (Lukianoff is the head of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, another organisation funded by the Olin and Scaife families.) In the name of emotional wellbeing, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they dont like, the article announced. It was shared over 500,000 times.

The climate of digital journalism and social media sharing enabled the anti-political-correctness stories to spread

These pieces committed many of the same fallacies that their predecessors from the 1990s had. They cherry-picked anecdotes and caricatured the subjects of their criticism. They complained that other people were creating and enforcing speech codes, while at the same time attempting to enforce their own speech codes. Their writers designated themselves the arbiters of what conversations or political demands deserved to be taken seriously, and which did not. They contradicted themselves in the same way: their authors continually complained, in highly visible publications, that they were being silenced.

The climate of digital journalism and social media sharing enabled the anti-political-correctness (and anti-anti-political correctness) stories to spread even further and faster than they had in the 1990s. Anti-PC and anti-anti-PC stories come cheap: because they concern identity, they are something that any writer can have a take on, based on his or her experiences, whether or not he or she has the time or resources to report. They are also perfect clickbait. They inspire outrage, or outrage at the outrage of others.

Meanwhile, a strange convergence was taking place. While Chait and his fellow liberals decried political correctness, Donald Trump and his followers were doing the same thing. Chait said that leftists were perverting liberalism and appointed himself the defender of a liberal centre; Trump said that liberal media had the system rigged.

The anti-PC liberals were so focused on leftists on Twitter that for months they gravely underestimated the seriousness of the real threat to liberal discourse. It was not coming from women, people of colour, or queer people organising for their civil rights, on campus or elsewhere. It was coming from @realdonaldtrump, neo-Nazis, and far-right websites such as Breitbart.

The original critics of PC were academics or shadow-academics, Ivy League graduates who went around in bow ties quoting Plato and Matthew Arnold. It is hard to imagine Trump quoting Plato or Matthew Arnold, much less carping about the titles of conference papers by literature academics. During his campaign, the network of donors who funded decades of anti-PC activity the Kochs, the Olins, the Scaifes shunned Trump, citing concerns about the populist promises he was making. Trump came from a different milieu: not Yale or the University of Chicago, but reality television. And he was picking different fights, targeting the media and political establishment, rather than academia.

As a candidate, Trump inaugurated a new phase of anti-political-correctness. What was remarkable was just how many different ways Trump deployed this tactic to his advantage, both exploiting the tried-and-tested methods of the early 1990s and adding his own innovations.

First, by talking incessantly about political correctness, Trump established the myth that he had dishonest and powerful enemies who wanted to prevent him from taking on the difficult challenges facing the nation. By claiming that he was being silenced, he created a drama in which he could play the hero. The notion that Trump was both persecuted and heroic was crucial to his emotional appeal. It allowed people who were struggling economically or angry about the way society was changing to see themselves in him, battling against a rigged system that made them feel powerless and devalued. At the same time, Trumps swagger promised that they were strong and entitled to glory. They were great and would be great again.

Second, Trump did not simply criticise the idea of political correctness he actually said and did the kind of outrageous things that PC culture supposedly prohibited. The first wave of conservative critics of political correctness claimed they were defending the status quo, but Trumps mission was to destroy it. In 1991, when George HW Bush warned that political correctness was a threat to free speech, he did not choose to exercise his free speech rights by publicly mocking a man with a disability or characterising Mexican immigrants as rapists. Trump did. Having elevated the powers of PC to mythic status, the draft-dodging billionaire, son of a slumlord, taunted the parents of a fallen soldier and claimed that his cruelty and malice was, in fact, courage.

This willingness to be more outrageous than any previous candidate ensured non-stop media coverage, which in turn helped Trump attract supporters who agreed with what he was saying. We should not underestimate how many Trump supporters held views that were sexist, racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic, and were thrilled to feel that he had given them permission to say so. Its an old trick: the powerful encourage the less powerful to vent their rage against those who might have been their allies, and to delude themselves into thinking that they have been liberated. It costs the powerful nothing; it pays frightful dividends.

Trump drew upon a classic element of anti-political-correctness by implying that while his opponents were operating according to a political agenda, he simply wanted to do what was sensible. He made numerous controversial policy proposals: deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, banning Muslims from entering the US, introducing stop-and-frisk policies that have been ruled unconstitutional. But by responding to critics with the accusation that they were simply being politically correct, Trump attempted to place these proposals beyond the realm of politics altogether. Something political is something that reasonable people might disagree about. By using the adjective as a put-down, Trump pretended that he was acting on truths so obvious that they lay beyond dispute. Thats just common sense.

The most alarming part of this approach is what it implies about Trumps attitude to politics more broadly. His contempt for political correctness looks a lot like contempt for politics itself. He does not talk about diplomacy; he talks about deals. Debate and disagreement are central to politics, yet Trump has made clear that he has no time for these distractions. To play the anti-political-correctness card in response to a legitimate question about policy is to shut down discussion in much the same way that opponents of political correctness have long accused liberals and leftists of doing. It is a way of sidestepping debate by declaring that the topic is so trivial or so contrary to common sense that it is pointless to discuss it. The impulse is authoritarian. And by presenting himself as the champion of common sense, Trump gives himself permission to bypass politics altogether.

Now that he is president-elect, it is unclear whether Trump meant many of the things he said during his campaign. But, so far, he is fulfilling his pledge to fight political correctness. Last week, he told the New York Times that he was trying to build an administration filled with the best people, though Not necessarily people that will be the most politically correct people, because that hasnt been working.

Trump has also continued to cry PC in response to criticism. When an interviewer from Politico asked a Trump transition team member why Trump was appointing so many lobbyists and political insiders, despite having pledged to drain the swamp of them, the source said that one of the most refreshing parts of the whole Trump style is that he does not care about political correctness. Apparently it would have been politically correct to hold him to his campaign promises.

As Trump prepares to enter the White House, many pundits have concluded that political correctness fuelled the populist backlash sweeping Europe and the US. The leaders of that backlash may say so. But the truth is the opposite: those leaders understood the power that anti-political-correctness has to rally a class of voters, largely white, who are disaffected with the status quo and resentful of shifting cultural and social norms. They were not reacting to the tyranny of political correctness, nor were they returning America to a previous phase of its history. They were not taking anything back. They were wielding anti-political-correctness as a weapon, using it to forge a new political landscape and a frightening future.

The opponents of political correctness always said they were crusaders against authoritarianism. In fact, anti-PC has paved the way for the populist authoritarianism now spreading everywhere. Trump is anti-political correctness gone mad.

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Xian (Taoism) – Wikipedia

Posted: at 11:25 pm

Xian (Chinese: //; pinyin: xin; WadeGiles: hsien) is a Chinese word for an enlightened person, translatable in English as:

Xian semantically developed from meaning spiritual “immortality; enlightenment”, to physical “immortality; longevity” involving methods such as alchemy, breath meditation, and T’ai chi ch’uan, and eventually to legendary and figurative “immortality”.

The xian archetype is described by Victor H. Mair.

They are immune to heat and cold, untouched by the elements, and can fly, mounting upward with a fluttering motion. They dwell apart from the chaotic world of man, subsist on air and dew, are not anxious like ordinary people, and have the smooth skin and innocent faces of children. The transcendents live an effortless existence that is best described as spontaneous. They recall the ancient Indian ascetics and holy men known as i who possessed similar traits.1994:376

According to the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism, Chinese xian () can mean Sanskrit i (rishi “inspired sage in the Vedas”).

The most famous Chinese compound of xin is Bxin ( “the Eight Immortals”). Other common words include xinrn ( sennin in Japanese, “immortal person; transcendent”, see Xinrn Dng), xinrnzhng ( “immortal’s palm; cactus”), xinn ( “immortal woman; female celestial; angel”), and shnxin ( “gods and immortals; divine immortal”). Besides humans, xin can also refer to supernatural animals. The mythological hlijng (lit. “fox spirit”) “fox fairy; vixen; witch; enchantress” has an alternate name of hxin (lit. “fox immortal”).

The etymology of xin remains uncertain. The circa 200 CE Shiming, a Chinese dictionary that provided word-pun “etymologies”, defines xin () as “to get old and not die,” and explains it as someone who qin ( “moves into”) the mountains.”

Edward H. Schafer (1966:204) defined xian as “transcendent, sylph (a being who, through alchemical, gymnastic and other disciplines, has achieved a refined and perhaps immortal body, able to fly like a bird beyond the trammels of the base material world into the realms of aether, and nourish himself on air and dew.)” Schafer noted xian was cognate to xian “soar up”, qian “remove”, and xianxian “a flapping dance movement”; and compared Chinese yuren “feathered man; xian” with English peri “a fairy or supernatural being in Persian mythology” (Persian pari from par “feather; wing”).

Two linguistic hypotheses for the etymology of xian involve the Arabic language and Sino-Tibetan languages. Wu and Davis (1935:224) suggested the source was jinn, or jinni “genie” (from Arabic jinn). “The marvelous powers of the Hsien are so like those of the jinni of the Arabian Nights that one wonders whether the Arabic word, jinn, may not be derived from the Chinese Hsien.” Axel Schuessler’s etymological dictionary (2007:527) suggests a Sino-Tibetan connection between xin (Old Chinese *san or *sen) “‘An immortal’ men and women who attain supernatural abilities; after death they become immortals and deities who can fly through the air” and Tibetan gen

The word xin is written with three characters , , or , which combine the logographic “radical” rn ( or “person; human”) with two “phonetic” elements (see Chinese character classification). The oldest recorded xin character has a xin (“rise up; ascend”) phonetic supposedly because immortals could “ascend into the heavens”. (Compare qin “move; transfer; change” combining this phonetic and the motion radical.) The usual modern xin character , and its rare variant , have a shn ( “mountain”) phonetic. For a character analysis, Schipper (1993:164) interprets “‘the human being of the mountain,’ or alternatively, ‘human mountain.’ The two explanations are appropriate to these beings: they haunt the holy mountains, while also embodying nature.”

The Shijing (220/3) contains the oldest occurrence of the character , reduplicated as xinxin ( “dance lightly; hop about; jump around”), and rhymed with qin (). “But when they have drunk too much, Their deportment becomes light and frivolousThey leave their seats, and [] go elsewhere, They keep [] dancing and capering.” (tr. James Legge)[1] Needham and Wang (1956:134) suggest xian was cognate with wu “shamanic” dancing. Paper (1995:55) writes, “the function of the term xian in a line describing dancing may be to denote the height of the leaps. Since, “to live for a long time” has no etymological relation to xian, it may be a later accretion.”

The 121 CE Shuowen Jiezi, the first important dictionary of Chinese characters, does not enter except in the definition for (Wo Quan “name of an ancient immortal”). It defines as “live long and move away” and as “appearance of a person on a mountaintop”.

This section chronologically reviews how Chinese texts describe xian “immortals; transcendents”. While the early Zhuangzi, Chuci, and Liezi texts allegorically used xian immortals and magic islands to describe spiritual immortality, later ones like the Shenxian zhuan and Baopuzi took immortality literally and described esoteric Chinese alchemical techniques for physical longevity. On one the hand, neidan ( “internal alchemy”) techniques included taixi ( “embryo respiration”) breath control, meditation, visualization, sexual training, and Tao Yin exercises (which later evolved into Qigong and T’ai chi ch’uan). On the other hand, waidan ( “external alchemy”) techniques for immortality included alchemical recipes, magic plants, rare minerals, herbal medicines, drugs, and dietetic techniques like inedia.

The earliest representations of Chinese immortals, dating from the Han Dynasty, portray them flying with feathery wings (the word yuren “feathered person” later meant “Daoist”) or riding dragons. In Chinese art, xian are often pictured with symbols of immortality including the dragon, crane, fox, white deer, pine tree, peach, and mushroom.

Besides the following major Chinese texts, many others use both graphic variants of xian. Xian () occurs in the Chunqiu Fanlu, Fengsu Tongyi, Qian fu lun, Fayan, and Shenjian; xian () occurs in the Caizhong langji, Fengsu Tongyi, Guanzi, and Shenjian.

Two circa 3rd century BCE “Outer Chapters” of the Zhuangzi ( “[Book of] Master Zhuang”) use the archaic character xian . Chapter 11 has a parable about “Cloud Chief” () and “Big Concealment” () that uses the Shijing compound xianxian (“dance; jump”):

Big Concealment said, “If you confuse the constant strands of Heaven and violate the true form of things, then Dark Heaven will reach no fulfillment. Instead, the beasts will scatter from their herds, the birds will cry all night, disaster will come to the grass and trees, misfortune will reach even to the insects. Ah, this is the fault of men who ‘govern’!” “Then what should I do?” said Cloud Chief. “Ah,” said Big Concealment, “you are too far gone! [] Up, up, stir yourself and be off!” Cloud Chief said, “Heavenly Master, it has been hard indeed for me to meet with youI beg one word of instruction!” “Well, thenmindnourishment!” said Big Concealment. “You have only to rest in inaction and things will transform themselves. Smash your form and body, spit out hearing and eyesight, forget you are a thing among other things, and you may join in great unity with the deep and boundless. Undo the mind, slough off spirit, be blank and soulless, and the ten thousand things one by one will return to the rootreturn to the root and not know why. Dark and undifferentiated chaosto the end of life none will depart from it. But if you try to know it, you have already departed from it. Do not ask what its name is, do not try to observe its form. Things will live naturally end of themselves.” Cloud Chief said, “The Heavenly Master has favored me with this Virtue, instructed me in this Silence. All my life I have been looking for it, and now at last I have it!” He bowed his head twice, stood up, took his leave, and went away. (11, tr. Burton Watson 1968:122-3)

Chapter 12 uses xian when mythical Emperor Yao describes a shengren ( “sagely person”).

The true sage is a quail at rest, a little fledgling at its meal, a bird in flight who leaves no trail behind. When the world has the Way, he joins in the chorus with all other things. When the world is without the Way, he nurses his Virtue and retires in leisure. And after a thousand years, should he weary of the world, he will leave it and [] ascend to [] the immortals, riding on those white clouds all the way up to the village of God. (12, tr. Watson 1968:130)

Without using the word xian, several Zhuangzi passages employ xian imagery, like flying in the clouds, to describe individuals with superhuman powers. For example, Chapter 1, within the circa 3rd century BCE “Inner Chapters”, has two portrayals. First is this description of Liezi (below).

Lieh Tzu could ride the wind and go soaring around with cool and breezy skill, but after fifteen days he came back to earth. As far as the search for good fortune went, he didn’t fret and worry. He escaped the trouble of walking, but he still had to depend on something to get around. If he had only mounted on the truth of Heaven and Earth, ridden the changes of the six breaths, and thus wandered through the boundless, then what would he have had to depend on? Therefore, I say, the Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame. (1, tr. Watson 1968:32)

Second is this description of a shenren ( “divine person”).

He said that there is a Holy Man living on faraway [] Ku-she Mountain, with skin like ice or snow, and gentle and shy like a young girl. He doesn’t eat the five grains, but sucks the wind, drinks the dew, climbs up on the clouds and mist, rides a flying dragon, and wanders beyond the Four Seas. By concentrating his spirit, he can protect creatures from sickness and plague and make the harvest plentiful. (1, tr. Watson 1968:33)

The authors of the Zhuangzi had a lyrical view of life and death, seeing them as complimentary aspects of natural changes. This is antithetical to the physical immortality (changshengbulao “live forever and never age”) sought by later Daoist alchemists. Consider this famous passage about accepting death.

Chuang Tzu’s wife died. When Hui Tzu went to convey his condolences, he found Chuang Tzu sitting with his legs sprawled out, pounding on a tub and singing. “You lived with her, she brought up your children and grew old,” said Hui Tzu. “It should be enough simply not to weep at her death. But pounding on a tub and singingthis is going too far, isn’t it?” Chuang Tzu said, “You’re wrong. When she first died, do you think I didn’t grieve like anyone else? But I looked back to her beginning and the time before she was born. Not only the time before she was born, but the time before she had a body. Not only the time before she had a body, but the time before she had a spirit. In the midst of the jumble of wonder and mystery a change took place and she had a spirit. Another change and she had a body. Another change and she was born. Now there’s been another change and she’s dead. It’s just like the progression of the four seasons, spring, summer, fall, winter.” “Now she’s going to lie down peacefully in a vast room. If I were to follow after her bawling and sobbing, it would show that I don’t understand anything about fate. So I stopped. (18, tr. Watson 1968:1912)

Alan Fox explains this anecdote about Zhuangzi’s wife.

Many conclusions can be reached on the basis of this story, but it seems that death is regarded as a natural part of the ebb and flow of transformations which constitute the movement of Dao. To grieve over death, or to fear one’s own death, for that matter, is to arbitrarily evaluate what is inevitable. Of course, this reading is somewhat ironic given the fact that much of the subsequent Daoist tradition comes to seek longevity and immortality, and bases some of their basic models on the Zhuangzi. (1995:100)

The 3rd-2nd century BCE Chuci ( “Lyrics of Chu”) anthology of poems uses xian once and xian twice, reflecting the disparate origins of the text. These three contexts mention the legendary Daoist xian immortals Chi Song ( “Red Pine”, see Kohn 1993:1424) and Wang Qiao (, or Zi Qiao ). In later Daoist hagiography, Chi Song was Lord of Rain under Shennong, the legendary inventor of agriculture; and Wang Qiao was a son of King Ling of Zhou (r. 571545 BCE), who flew away on a giant white bird, became an immortal and was never again seen.

The “Yuan You” ( “Far-off Journey”) poem describes a spiritual journey into the realms of gods and immortals, frequently referring to Daoist myths and techniques.

My spirit darted forth and did not return to me, And my body, left tenantless, grew withered and lifeless. Then I looked into myself to strengthen my resolution, And sought to learn from where the primal spirit issues. In emptiness and silence I found serenity; In tranquil inaction I gained true satisfaction. I heard how once Red Pine had washed the world’s dust off: I would model myself on the pattern he had left me. I honoured the wondrous powers of the [] Pure Ones, And those of past ages who had become [] Immortals. They departed in the flux of change and vanished from men’s sight, Leaving a famous name that endures after them. (tr. Hawkes 1985:194)

The “Xi shi” ( “Sorrow for Troth Betrayed”) resembles the “Yuan You”, and both reflect Daoist ideas from the Han period. “Though unoriginal in theme,” says Hawkes (1985:239), “its description of air travel, written in a pre-aeroplane age, is exhilarating and rather impressive.”

We gazed down of the Middle Land [China] with its myriad people As we rested on the whirlwind, drifting about at random. In this way we came at last to the moor of Shao-yuan: There, with the other blessed ones, were Red Pine and Wang Qiao. The two Masters held zithers tuned in perfect concord: I sang the Qing Shang air to their playing. In tranquil calm and quiet enjoyment, Gently I floated, inhaling all the essences. But then I thought that this immortal life of [] the blessed, Was not worth the sacrifice of my home-returning. (tr. Hawkes 1985:240)

The “Ai shi ming” ( “Alas That My Lot Was Not Cast”) describes a celestial journey similar to the previous two.

Far and forlorn, with no hope of return: Sadly I gaze in the distance, over the empty plain. Below, I fish in the valley streamlet; Above, I seek out [] holy hermits. I enter into friendship with Red Pine; I join Wang Qiao as his companion. We send the Xiao Yang in front to guide us; The White Tiger runs back and forth in attendance. Floating on the cloud and mist, we enter the dim height of heaven; Riding on the white deer we sport and take our pleasure. tr. Hawkes 1985:266)

The “Li Sao” ( “On Encountering Trouble”), the most famous Chuci poem, is usually interpreted as describing ecstatic flights and trance techniques of Chinese shamans. The above three poems are variations describing Daoist xian.

Some other Chuci poems refer to immortals with synonyms of xian. For instance, “Shou zhi” ( “Maintaining Resolution), uses zhenren ( “true person”, tr. “Pure Ones” above in “Yuan You”), which Wang Yi’s commentary glosses as zhen xianren ( “true immortal person”).

I visited Fu Yue, bestriding a dragon, Joined in marriage with the Weaving Maiden, Lifted up Heaven’s Net to capture evil, Drew the Bow of Heaven to shoot at wickedness, Followed the [] Immortals fluttering through the sky, Ate of the Primal Essence to prolong my life. (tr. Hawkes 1985:318)

The Liezi ( “[Book of] Master Lie”), which Louis Komjathy (2004:36) says “was probably compiled in the 3rd century CE (while containing earlier textual layers)”, uses xian four times, always in the compound xiansheng ( “immortal sage”).

Nearly half of Chapter 2 (“The Yellow Emperor”) comes from the Zhuangzi, including this recounting of the above fable about Mount Gushe (, or Guye, or Miao Gushe ).

The Ku-ye mountains stand on a chain of islands where the Yellow River enters the sea. Upon the mountains there lives a Divine Man, who inhales the wind and drinks the dew, and does not eat the five grains. His mind is like a bottomless spring, his body is like a virgin’s. He knows neither intimacy nor love, yet [] immortals and sages serve him as ministers. He inspires no awe, he is never angry, yet the eager and diligent act as his messengers. He is without kindness and bounty, but others have enough by themselves; he does not store and save, but he himself never lacks. The Yin and Yang are always in tune, the sun and moon always shine, the four seasons are always regular, wind and rain are always temperate, breeding is always timely, the harvest is always rich, and there are no plagues to ravage the land, no early deaths to afflict men, animals have no diseases, and ghosts have no uncanny echoes. (tr. Graham 1960:35)

Chapter 5 uses xiansheng three times in a conversation set between legendary rulers Tang () of the Shang Dynasty and Ji () of the Xia Dynasty.

T’ang asked again: ‘Are there large things and small, long and short, similar and different?’ ‘To the East of the Gulf of Chih-li, who knows how many thousands and millions of miles, there is a deep ravine, a valley truly without bottom; and its bottomless underneath is named “The Entry to the Void”. The waters of the eight corners and the nine regions, the stream of the Milky Way, all pour into it, but it neither shrinks nor grows. Within it there are five mountains, called Tai-y, Yan-chiao, Fang-hu, Ying-chou and P’eng-Iai. These mountains are thirty thousand miles high, and as many miles round; the tablelands on their summits extend for nine thousand miles. It is seventy thousand miles from one mountain to the next, but they are considered close neighbours. The towers and terraces upon them are all gold and jade, the beasts and birds are all unsullied white; trees of pearl and garnet always grow densely, flowering and bearing fruit which is always luscious, and those who eat of it never grow old and die. The men who dwell there are all of the race of [] immortal sages, who fly, too many to be counted, to and from one mountain to another in a day and a night. Yet the bases of the five mountains used to rest on nothing; they were always rising and falling, going and returning, with the ebb and flow of the tide, and never for a moment stood firm. The [] immortals found this troublesome, and complained about it to God. God was afraid that they would drift to the far West and he would lose the home of his sages. So he commanded Y-ch’iang to make fifteen [] giant turtles carry the five mountains on their lifted heads, taking turns in three watches, each sixty thousand years long; and for the first time the mountains stood firm and did not move. ‘But there was a giant from the kingdom of the Dragon Earl, who came to the place of the five mountains in no more than a few strides. In one throw he hooked six of the turtles in a bunch, hurried back to his country carrying them together on his back, and scorched their bones to tell fortunes by the cracks. Thereupon two of the mountains, Tai-y and Yan-chiao, drifted to the far North and sank in the great sea; the [] immortals who were carried away numbered many millions. God was very angry, and reduced by degrees the size of the Dragon Earl’s kingdom and the height of his subjects. At the time of Fu-hsi and Shen-nung, the people of this country were still several hundred feet high.’ (tr. Graham 1960:978)

Penglai Mountain became the most famous of these five mythical peaks where the elixir of life supposedly grew, and is known as Horai in Japanese legends. The first emperor Qin Shi Huang sent his court alchemist Xu Fu on expeditions to find these plants of immortality, but he never returned (although by some accounts, he discovered Japan).

Holmes Welch (1957:8897) analyzed the beginnings of Daoism, sometime around the 4th-3rd centuries BCE, from four separate streams: philosophical Daoism (Laozi, Zhuangzi, Liezi), a “hygiene school” that cultivated longevity through breathing exercises and yoga, Chinese alchemy and Five Elements philosophy, and those who sought Penglai and elixirs of “immortality”. This is what he concludes about xian.

It is my own opinion, therefore, that though the word hsien, or Immortal, is used by Chuang Tzu and Lieh Tzu, and though they attributed to their idealized individual the magic powers that were attributed to the hsien in later times, nonetheless the hsien ideal was something they did not believe ineither that it was possible or that it was good. The magic powers are allegories and hyperboles for the natural powers that come from identification with Tao. Spiritualized Man, P’eng-lai, and the rest are features of a genre which is meant to entertain, disturb, and exalt us, not to be taken as literal hagiography. Then and later, the philosophical Taoists were distinguished from all other schools of Taoism by their rejection of the pursuit of immortality. As we shall see, their books came to be adopted as scriptural authority by those who did practice magic and seek to become immortal. But it was their misunderstanding of philosophical Taoism that was the reason they adopted it. (Welch 1957:95)

The Shenxian zhuan ( Biographies of Spirit Immortals”) is a hagiography of xian. Although it was traditionally attributed to Ge Hong (283343 CE), Komjathy (2004:43) says, “The received versions of the text contain some 100-odd hagiographies, most of which date from 6th-8th centuries at the earliest.”

According to the Shenxian zhuan, there are four schools of immortality:

Q (Pneumas): Breath control and meditation. Those who belong to this school can

“…blow on water and it will flow against its own current for several paces; blow on fire, and it will be extinguished; blow at tigers or wolves, and they will crouch down and not be able to move; blow at serpents, and they will coil up and be unable to flee. If someone is wounded by a weapon, blow on the wound, and the bleeding will stop. If you hear of someone who has suffered a poisonous insect bite, even if you are not in his presence, you can, from a distance, blow and say in incantation over your own hand (males on the left hand, females on the right), and the person will at once be healed even if more than a hundred li away. And if you yourself are struck by a sudden illness, you have merely to swallow pneumas in three series of nine, and you will immediately recover. But the most essential thing [among such arts] is fetal breathing. Those who obtain [the technique of] fetal breathing become able to breathe without using their nose or mouth, as if in the womb, and this is the culmination of the way [of pneumatic cultivation].” (Campany 2002:21)

Fn (Diet): Ingestion of herbal compounds and abstention from the Sn Sh Fn (Three-Corpses food)Meats (raw fish, pork, dog, leeks, and scallions) and grains. The Shenxian zhuan uses this story to illustrate the importance of bigu “grain avoidance”:

“During the reign of Emperor Cheng of the Han, hunters in the Zhongnan Mountains saw a person who wore no clothes, his body covered with black hair. Upon seeing this person, the hunters wanted to pursue and capture him, but the person leapt over gullies and valleys as if in flight, and so could not be overtaken. [But after being surrounded and captured, it was discovered this person was a 200 plus year old woman, who had once been a concubine of Qin Emperor Ziying. When he had surrendered to the ‘invaders of the east’, she fled into the mountains where she learned to subside on ‘the resin and nuts of pines’ from an old man. Afterwards, this diet ‘enabled [her] to feel neither hunger nor thirst; in winter [she] was not cold, in summer [she] was not hot.’] The hunters took the woman back in. They offered her grain to eat. When she first smelled the stink of grain, she vomited, and only after several days could she tolerate it. After little more than two years of this [diet], her body hair fell out; she turned old and died. Had she not been caught by men, she would have become a transcendent.” (Campany 2002:2223)

Fngzhng Zh Sh (Arts of the Bedchamber): Sexual yoga. (Campany 2002:3031) According to a discourse between the Yellow Emperor and the immortaless Sn (Plain Girl), one of the three daughters of Hsi Wang Mu,

The sexual behaviors between a man and woman are identical to how the universe itself came into creation. Like Heaven and Earth, the male and female share a parallel relationship in attaining an immortal existence. They both must learn how to engage and develop their natural sexual instincts and behaviors; otherwise the only result is decay and traumatic discord of their physical lives. However, if they engage in the utmost joys of sensuality and apply the principles of yin and yang to their sexual activity, their health, vigor, and joy of love will bear them the fruits of longevity and immortality. (Hsi 2002:99100)

The White Tigress Manual, a treatise on female sexual yoga, states,

A female can completely restore her youthfulness and attain immortality if she refrains from allowing just one or two men in her life from stealing and destroying her [sexual] essence, which will only serve in aging her at a rapid rate and bring about an early death. However, if she can acquire the sexual essence of a thousand males through absorption, she will acquire the great benefits of youthfulness and immortality. (Hsi 2001:48)

Dn (“Alchemy”, literally “Cinnabar”): Elixir of Immortality.(Campany 2002:31)

The 4th century CE Baopuzi ( “[Book of] Master Embracing Simplicity”), which was written by Ge Hong, gives some highly detailed descriptions of xian.

The text lists three classes of immortals:

These titles were usually given to humans who had either not proven themselves worthy of or were not fated to become immortals. One such famous agent was Fei Changfang, who was eventually murdered by evil spirits because he lost his book of magic talismans. However, some immortals are written to have used this method in order to escape execution. (Campany 2002:5260)

Ge Hong wrote in his book The Master Who Embraces Simplicity,

The [immortals] Dark Girl and Plain Girl compared sexual activity as the intermingling of fire [yang/male] and water [yin/female], claiming that water and fire can kill people but can also regenerate their life, depending on whether or not they know the correct methods of sexual activity according to their nature. These arts are based on the theory that the more females a man copulates with, the greater benefit he will derive from the act. Men who are ignorant of this art, copulating with only one or two females during their life, will only suffice to bring about their untimely and early death. (Hsi 2001:48)

The Zhong L Chuan Dao Ji (/ “Anthology of the Transmission of the Dao from Zhong[li Quan] to L [Dongbin]”) is associated with Zhongli Quan (2nd century CE?) and L Dongbin (9th century CE), two of the legendary Eight Immortals. It is part of the so-called Zhong-L () textual tradition of internal alchemy (neidan). Komjathy (2004:57) describes it as, “Probably dating from the late Tang (618906), the text is in question-and-answer format, containing a dialogue between L and his teacher Zhongli on aspects of alchemical terminology and methods.”

The Zhong L Chuan Dao Ji lists five classes of immortals:

The ragama Stra, in an approach to Taoist teachings, discusses the characteristics of ten types of xian who exist between the world of devas (“gods”) and that of human beings. This position, in Buddhist literature, is usually occupied by asuras (“Titans”, “antigods”). These xian are not considered true cultivators of samadhi (“unification of mind”), as their methods differ from the practice of dhyna (“meditation”).[2][3]

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Xian (Taoism) – Wikipedia

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Ascension of Jesus – Wikipedia

Posted: December 2, 2016 at 12:32 pm

The Ascension of Jesus (anglicized from the Vulgate Latin Acts 1:9-11 section title: Ascensio Iesu) is the departure of Christ from Earth into the presence of God. The well-known narrative in Acts 1 it takes place 40 days after the Resurrection: Jesus, in the company of the disciples, is taken up in their sight after warning them to remain in Jerusalem until the coming of the Holy Spirit; as he ascends a cloud hides him from their view, and two men in white appear to tell them that he will return “in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Heavenly ascents were fairly common in the time of Jesus, signifying divine approval or the deification of an exceptional man. In the Christian tradition, reflected in the major Christian creeds and confessional statements, the ascension is connected with the exultation of Jesus, meaning that through his ascension Jesus took his seat at the right hand of God: “He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.” The Feast of the Ascension is celebrated on the 40th day of Easter, always a Thursday; the Orthodox tradition has a different calendar up to a month later than in the Western tradition, and while the Anglican communion continues to observe the feast, most Protestant churches have abandoned it. The Ascension of Jesus is an important theme in Christian art, the ascending Jesus often shown blessing an earthly group below him to signify his blessing the entire Church.

The world of the Ascension is a three-part universe with the heavens above, a flat earth centered on Jerusalem in the middle, and the underworld below. Heaven was separated from the earth by the firmament, the visible sky, a solid inverted bowl where God’s throne sat “on the vaulted roof of earth.”(Isaiah 40:22). Humans looking up from earth saw the floor of heaven, made of clear blue lapis-lazuli (Exodus 24:9-10), as was God’s throne (Ezekiel 1:26).

Heavenly ascents were fairly common in the time of Jesus, signifying the means whereby a prophet could attain access to divine secrets, or divine approval granted to an exceptionally righteous individual, or the deification of an exceptional man. Figures familiar to Jews would have included Enoch (from the Book of Genesis and a popular non-Biblical work called 1 Enoch), the 5th century sage Ezra, Baruch the companion of the prophet Jeremiah (from a work called 2 Baruch, in which Baruch is promised he will ascend to heaven after 40 days)), Levi the ancestor of priests, the Teacher of Righteousness from the Qumran community, as well as Elijah and Moses, who was deified on entering heaven, and the children of Job, who according to the Testament of Job ascended heaven following their resurrection from the dead. Non-Jewish readers would have been familiar with the case of the emperor Augustus, whose ascent was witnessed by Senators, Romulus the founder of Rome, who, like Jesus, was taken to heaven in a cloud, the Greek hero Heracles (Hercules), and many others.

There is a broad consensus among scholars that the brief Ascension account in the Gospel of Mark is a later addition to the original version of that gospel.Luke-Acts, a single work from the same anonymous author, provides the only detailed account of the Ascension.Luke 24 tells how Jesus leads the eleven disciples to Bethany, a village on the Mount of Olives not far from Jerusalem, where he instructs them to remain in Jerusalem until the coming of the Holy Spirit and blesses them. “And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.”

Acts 1 describes a meal on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus commands the disciples to await the coming of the Holy Spirit, a cloud takes him upward from sight, and two men in white appear to tell them (the disciples) that he will return “in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Luke and Acts appear to describe the same event, but present quite different chronologies, Luke placing it on the same day as the Resurrection and Acts forty days afterwards;[20] various proposals have been put forward to resolve the contradiction, but the question remains open.

The Gospel of John has three references to ascension in Jesus’ own words: “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the son of man” (John 3:13); “What if you (the disciples) were to to see the son of man ascending where he was before?” (John 6:62); and to Mary Magdalene after his Resurrection, “Do not hold me, for I not yet ascended to my father…” (John20:17). In the first and second Jesus is claiming to be the apocalyptic “one like a son of man” of Daniel 7; the last has mystified commentators what should Mary be prohibited from touching the risen but not yet ascended Christ, while Thomas is later invited to do so?

Various epistles (Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:19-20, Colossians 3:1, Philippians 2:9-11, 1 Timothy 3:16, and 1 Peter 3:21-22) also refer to an Ascension, seeming, like Luke-Acts and John, to equate it with the post-resurrection “exultation” of Jesus to the right hand of God.

The common thread linking all the New Testament Ascension references, reflected in the major Christian creeds and confessional statements, is the exultation of Jesus, meaning that through his ascension Jesus took his seat at the right hand of God in Heaven: “He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.” It is interpreted more broadly as the culmination of the Mystery of the Incarnation, marking the completion of Jesus’ physical presence among his apostles and consummating the union of God and man, as expressed in the Second Helvetic Confession:

Despite this, the Ascension itself has become an embarrassment. As expressed in a famous statement by theologian Rudolf Bultmann in his essay The New Testament and Mythology: “We no longer believe in the three-storied universe which the creeds take for granted… No one who is old enough to think for himself supposes that God lives in a local heaven … And if this is so, the story of Christ’s … ascension into heaven is done with.” Modern theologians have therefore de-mythologised their theology, abandoning a God who sits enthroned above Jerusalem for a heaven which is “the endless, self-sustaining life of God” and the Ascension “an emblem in space and time of God’s eternal life.”

The Feast of the Ascension is one of the ecumenical (i.e., universally celebrated) feasts of the Christian liturgical year, along with the Passion, Easter, and Pentecost. Ascension Day is traditionally celebrated on the sixth Thursday after Easter Sunday, the fortieth day from Easter day, although some Roman Catholic provinces have moved the observance to the following Sunday to facilitate the obligation to take Mass. Saint Jerome held that it was of Apostolic origin, but in fact the Ascension was originally part of Pentecost (the coming of the Holy Spirit, and developed as a separate celebration only slowly from the late 4th century onward. In the Catholic tradition it begins with a three-day “rogation” to ask for God’s mercy, and the feast itself includes a procession of torches and banners symbolising Christ’s journey to the Mount of Olives and entry into heaven, the extinguishing of the Paschal candle, and an all-night vigil; white is the liturgical colour. The orthodox tradition has a slightly different calendar up to a month later than in the Western tradition; the Anglican communion continues to observe the feast, but most Protestant churches have abandoned the traditional Christian calendar of feasts.

The Ascension has been a frequent subject in Christian art. By the 6th century the iconography of the Ascension had been established and by the 9th century Ascension scenes were being depicted on domes of churches. The Rabbula Gospels (c. 586) include some of the earliest images of the Ascension. Many ascension scenes have two parts, an upper (Heavenly) part and a lower (earthly) part. The ascending Christ may be carrying a resurrection banner or make a sign of benediction with his right hand. The blessing gesture by Christ with his right hand is directed towards the earthly group below him and signifies that he is blessing the entire Church. In the left hand, he may be holding a Gospel or a scroll, signifying teaching and preaching.

The Eastern Orthodox portrayal of the Ascension is a major metaphor for the mystical nature of the Church. In many Eastern icons the Virgin Mary is placed at the center of the scene in the earthly part of the depiction, with her hands raised towards Heaven, often accompanied by various Apostles. The upwards-looking depiction of the earthly group matches the Eastern liturgy on the Feast of the Ascension: “Come, let us rise and turn our eyes and thoughts high…”

The traditional site of the Ascension is Mount Olivet (the “Mount of Olives”, on which the village of Bethany sits. Before the conversion of Constantine in 312 AD, early Christians honored the Ascension of Christ in a cave on the Mount, and by 384 the Ascension was venerated on the present site, uphill from the cave.[33]

Around the year 390 a wealthy Roman woman named Poimenia financed construction of the original church called “Eleona Basilica” (elaion in Greek means “olive garden”, from elaia “olive tree,” and has an oft-mentioned similarity to eleos meaning “mercy”). This church was destroyed by Sassanid Persians in 614. It was subsequently rebuilt, destroyed, and rebuilt again by the Crusaders. This final church was later destroyed by Muslims, leaving only a 12×12 meter octagonal structure (called a martyrium”memorial”or “Edicule”) that remains to this day.[34] The site was ultimately acquired by two emissaries of Saladin in the year 1198 and has remained in the possession of the Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem ever since.

The Chapel of the Ascension today is a Christian and Muslim holy site now believed to mark the place where Jesus ascended into heaven; in the small round church/mosque is a stone imprinted with the footprints of Jesus.[33] The Russian Orthodox Church also maintains a Convent of the Ascension on the top of the Mount of Olives.

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Ascension of Jesus – Wikipedia

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Mind uploading – Transhumanism Wiki – Wikia

Posted: at 12:30 pm

In transhumanism and science fiction, mind uploading (also occasionally referred to by other terms such as mind transfer, whole brain emulation, or whole body emulation) refers to the hypothetical transfer of a human mind to a substrate different from a biological brain, such as a detailed computer simulation of an individual human brain.

The human brain contains a little more than 100 billion nerve cells called neurons, each individually linked to other neurons by way of connectors called axons and dendrites. Signals at the junctures (synapses) of these connections are transmitted by the release and detection of chemicals known as neurotransmitters. The brain contains cell types other than neurons (such as glial cells), some of which are structurally similar to neurons, but the information processing of the brain is thought to be conducted by the network of neurons.

Current biomedical and neuropsychological thinking is that the human mind is a product of the information processing of this neural network. To use an analogy from computer science, if the neural network of the brain can be thought of as hardware, then the human mind is the software running on it.

Mind uploading, then, is the act of copying or transferring this “software” from the hardware of the human brain to another processing environment, typically an artificially created one.

The concept of mind uploading then is strongly mechanist, relying on several assumptions about the nature of human consciousness and the philosophy of artificial intelligence. It assumes that strong AI machine intelligence is not only possible, but is indistinguishable from human intelligence, and denies the vitalist view of human life and consciousness.

Mind uploading is completely speculative at this point in time; no technology exists which can accomplish this.

The relationship between the human mind and the neural circuitry of the brain is currently poorly understood. Thus, most theoretical approaches to mind uploading are based on the idea of recreating or simulating the underlying neural network. This approach would theoretically eliminate the need to understand how such a system works if the component neurons and their connections can be simulated with enough accuracy.

It is unknown how precise the simulation of such a neural network would have to be to produce a functional simulation of the brain. It is possible, however, that simulating the functions of a human brain at the cellular level might be much more difficult than creating a human level artificial intelligence, which relied on recreating the functions of the human mind, rather than trying to simulate the underlying biological systems.[citation needed]

Thinkers with a strongly mechanistic view of human intelligence (such as Marvin Minsky) or a strongly positive view of robot-human social integration (such as Hans Moravec and Ray Kurzweil) have openly speculated about the possibility and desirability of this.

In the case where the mind is transferred into a computer, the subject would become a form of artificial intelligence, sometimes called an infomorph or “nomorph.” In a case where it is transferred into an artificial body, to which its consciousness is confined, it would also become a robot. In either case it might claim ordinary human rights, certainly if the consciousness within was feeling (or was doing a good job of simulating) as if it were the donor.

Uploading consciousness into bodies created by robotic means is a goal of some in the artificial intelligence community. In the uploading scenario, the physical human brain does not move from its original body into a new robotic shell; rather, the consciousness is assumed to be recorded and/or transferred to a new robotic brain, which generates responses indistinguishable from the original organic brain.

The idea of uploading human consciousness in this manner raises many philosophical questions which people may find interesting or disturbing, such as matters of individuality and the soul. Vitalists would say that uploading was a priori impossible. Many people also wonder whether, if they were uploaded, it would be their sentience uploaded, or simply a copy.

Even if uploading is theoretically possible, there is currently no technology capable of recording or describing mind states in the way imagined, and no one knows how much computational power or storage would be needed to simulate the activity of the mind inside a computer. On the other hand, advocates of uploading have made various estimates of the amount of computing power that would be needed to simulate a human brain, and based on this a number have estimated that uploading may become possible within decades if trends such as Moore’s Law continue.[citation needed]

If it is possible for human minds to be modeled and treated as software objects which can be instanced multiple times, in multiple processing environments, many potentially desirable possibilities open up for the individual.

If the mental processes of the human mind can be disassociated from its original biological body, it is no longer tied to the limits and lifespan of that body. In theory, a mind could be voluntarily copied or transferred from body to body indefinitely and therefore become immortal, or at least exercise conscious control of its lifespan.

Alternatively, if cybernetic implants could be used to monitor and record the structure of the human mind in real time then, should the body of the individual be killed, such implants could be used to later instance another working copy of that mind. It is also possible that periodic backups of the mind could be taken and stored external to the body and a copy of the mind instanced from this backup, should the body (and possibly the implants) be lost or damaged beyond recovery. In the latter case, any changes and experiences since the time of the last backup would be lost.

Such possibilities have been explored extensively in fiction: This Number Speaks, Nancy Farmer’s The House of the Scorpion, Newton’s Gate, John Varley’s Eight Worlds series, Greg Egan’s Permutation City, Diaspora, Schild’s Ladder and Incandescence, the Revelation Space series, Peter Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star duology, Bart Kosko’s Fuzzy Time, Armitage III series, the Takeshi Kovacs universe, Iain M. Banks Culture novels, Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and the works of Charles Stross. And in television sci-fi shows: Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1, among others.

Another concept explored in science fiction is the idea of more than one running “copy” of a human mind existing at once. Such copies could either be full copies, or limited subsets of the complete mentality designed for a particular limited functions. Such copies would allow an “individual” to experience many things at once, and later integrate the experiences of all copies into a central mentality at some point in the future, effectively allowing a single sentient being to “be many places at once” and “do many things at once”.

The implications of such entities have been explored in science fiction. In his book Eon, Greg Bear uses the terms “partials” and “ghosts”, while Charles Stross’s novels Accelerando and Glasshouse deal with the concepts of “forked instances” of conscious beings as well as “backups”.

In Charles Sheffield’s Tomorrow and Tomorrow, the protagonist’s consciousness is duplicated thousands of times electronically and sent out on probe ships and uploaded into bodies adapted to native environments of different planets. The copies are eventually reintegrated back into the “master” copy of the consciousness in order to consolidate their findings.

Such partial and complete copies of a sentient being again raise issues of identity and personhood: is a partial copy of sentient being itself sentient? What rights might such a being have? Since copies of a personality are having different experiences, are they not slowly diverging and becoming different entities? At what point do they become different entities?

If the body and the mind of the individual can be disassociated, then the individual is theoretically free to choose their own incarnation. They could reside within a completely human body, within a modified physical form, or within simulated realities. Individuals might change their incarnations many times during their existence, depending on their needs and desires.

Choices of the individuals in this matter could be restricted by the society they exist within, however. In the novel Eon by Greg Bear, individuals could incarnate physically (within “natural” biological humans, or within modified bodies) a limited number of times before being legally forced to reside with the “city memory” as infomorphic “ghosts”.

Once an individual is moved to virtual simulation, the only input needed would be energy, which would be provided by large computing device hosting those minds. All the food, drink, moving, travel or any imaginable thing would just need energy to provide those computations.

Almost all scientists, thinkers and intelligent people would be moved to this virtual environment once they die. In this virtual environment, their brain capacity would be expanded by speed and storage of quantum computers. In virtual environment idea and final product are not different. This way more and more innovations will be sent to real world and it will speed up our technological development.

Regardless of the techniques used to capture or recreate the function of a human mind, the processing demands of such venture are likely to be immense.

Henry Markram, lead researcher of the “Blue Brain Project”, has stated that “it is not [their] goal to build an intelligent neural network”, based solely on the computational demands such a project would have[1].

Advocates of mind uploading point to Moore’s law to support the notion that the necessary computing power may become available within a few decades, though it would probably require advances beyond the integrated circuit technology which has dominated since the 1970s. Several new technologies have been proposed, and prototypes of some have been demonstrated, such as the optical neural network based on the silicon-photonic chip (harnessing special physical properties of Indium Phosphide) which Intel showed the world for the first time on September 18, 2006.[3] Other proposals include three-dimensional integrated circuits based on carbon nanotubes (researchers have already demonstrated individual logic gates built from carbon nanotubes[4]) and also perhaps the quantum computer, currently being worked on internationally as well as most famously by computer scientists and physicists at the IBM Almaden Research Center, which promises to be useful in simulating the behavior of quantum systems; such ability would enable protein structure prediction which could be critical to correct emulation of intracellular neural processes.

Present methods require use of massive computational power (as the BBP does with IBM’s Blue Gene Supercomputer) to use the essentially classical computing architecture for serial deduction of the quantum mechanical processes involved in ab initio protein structure prediction. If necessary, should the quantum computer become a reality, its capacity for exactly such rapid calculations of quantum mechanical physics may well help the effort by reducing the required computational power per physical size and energy needs, as Markram warns would be needed (and thus why he thinks it would be difficult, besides unattractive) should an entire brain’s simulation, let alone emulation (at both cellular and molecular levels) be feasibly attempted. Reiteration may also be useful for distributed simulation of a common, repeated function (e.g., proteins).

Ultimately, nano-computing is projected by some[citation needed] to hold the requisite capacity for computations per second estimated necessary, in surplus. If Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns (a variation on Moore’s Law) shows itself to be true, the rate of technological development should accelerate exponentially towards the technological singularity, heralded by the advent of viable though relatively primitive mind uploading and/or “strong” (human-level) AI technologies, his prediction being that the Singularity may occur around the year 2045.[5]

The structure of a neural network is also different from classical computing designs. Memory in a classical computer is generally stored in a two state design, or bit, although one of the two components is modified in dynamic RAM and some forms of flash memory can use more than two states under some circumstances. Gates inside central processing units will often also use this two state or digital type of design as well. In some ways a neural network or brain could be thought of like a memory unit in a computer, but with an extremely vast number of states, corresponding with the total number of neurons. Beyond that, whether the action potential of a neuron will form, based upon the summation of the inputs of different dendrites, might be something that is more analog in nature than that which happens in a computer. One great advantage that a modern computer has over a biological brain, however, is that the speed of each electronic operation in a computer is many orders of magnitude faster than the time scales involved for the firing and transmission of individual nerve impulses. A brain, however, uses far more parallel processing than exists in most classical computing designs, and so each of the slower neurons can make up for it by operating at the same time.

There are many ethical issues concerning mind uploading. Viable mind uploading technology might challenge the ideas of human immortality, property rights, capitalism, human intelligence, an afterlife, and the Abrahamic view of man as created in God’s image. These challenges often cannot be distinguished from those raised by all technologies that extend human technological control over human bodies, e.g. organ transplant. Perhaps the best way to explore such issues is to discover principles applicable to current bioethics problems, and question what would be permissible if they were applied consistently to a future technology. This points back to the role of science fiction in exploring such problems, as powerfully demonstrated in the 20th century by such works as Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four, each of which frame current ethical problems in a future environment where those have come to dominate the society.

Another issue with mind uploading is whether an uploaded mind is really the “same” sentience, or simply an exact copy with the same memories and personality. Although this difference would be undetectable to an external observer (and the upload itself would probably be unable to tell), it could mean that uploading a mind would actually kill it and replace it with a clone. Some people would be unwilling to upload themselves for this reason. If their sentience is deactivated even for a nanosecond, they assert, it is permanently wiped out. Some more gradual methods may avoid this problem by keeping the uploaded sentience functioning throughout the procedure.

True mind uploading remains speculative. The technology to perform such a feat is not currently available, however a number of possible mechanisms, and research approaches, have been proposed for developing mind uploading technology.

Since the function of the human mind, and how it might arise from the working of the brain’s neural network, are poorly understood issues, many theoretical approaches to mind uploading rely on the idea of emulation. Rather than having to understand the functioning of the human mind, the structure of underlying neural network is captured and simulated with a computer system. The human mind then, theoretically, is generated by the simulated neural network in an identical fashion to it being generated by the biological neural network.

These approaches require only that we understand the nature of neurons and how their connections function, that we can simulate them well enough, that we have the computational power to run such large simulations, and that the state of the brain’s neural network can be captured with enough fidelity to create an accurate simulation.

A possible method for mind uploading is serial sectioning, in which the brain tissue and perhaps other parts of the nervous system are frozen and then scanned and analyzed layer by layer, thus capturing the structure of the neurons and their interconnections[6]. The exposed surface of frozen nerve tissue would be scanned (possibly with some variant of an electron microscope) and recorded, and then the surface layer of tissue removed (possibly with a conventional cryo-ultramicrotome if scanning along an axis, or possibly through laser ablation if scans are done radially “from the outside inwards”). While this would be a very slow and labor intensive process, research is currently underway to automate the collection and microscopy of serial sections[7]. The scans would then be analyzed, and a model of the neural net recreated in the system that the mind was being uploaded into.

There are uncertainties with this approach using current microscopy techniques. If it is possible to replicate neuron function from its visible structure alone, then the resolution afforded by a scanning electron microscope would suffice for such a technique[7]. However, as the function of brain tissue is partially determined by molecular events (particularly at synapses, but also at other places on the neuron’s cell membrane), this may not suffice for capturing and simulating neuron functions. It may be possible to extend the techniques of serial sectioning and to capture the internal molecular makeup of neurons, through the use of sophisticated immunohistochemistry staining methods which could then be read via confocal laser scanning microscopy[citation needed].

A more advanced hypothetical technique that would require nanotechnology might involve infiltrating the intact brain with a network of nanoscale machines to “read” the structure and activity of the brain in situ, much like the electrode meshes used in current brain-computer interface research, but on a much finer and more sophisticated scale. The data collected from these probes could then be used to build up a simulation of the neural network they were probing, and even check the behavior of the model against the behavior of the biological system in real time.

In his 1998 book, Mind children, Hans Moravec describes a variation of this process. In it, nanomachines are placed in the synapses of the outer layer of cells in the brain of a conscious living subject. The system then models the outer layer of cells and recreates the neural net processes in whatever simulation space is being used to house the uploaded consciousness of the subject. The nanomachines can then block the natural signals sent by the biological neurons, but send and receive signals to and from the simulated versions of the neurons. Which system is doing the processing biological or simulated can be toggled back and forth, both automatically by the scanning system and manually by the subject, until it has been established that the simulation’s behavior matches that of the biological neurons and that the subjective mental experience of the subject is unchanged. Once this is the case, the outer layer of neurons can be removed and their function turned solely over to the simulated neurons. This process is then repeated, layer by layer, until the entire biological brain of the subject has been scanned, modeled, checked, and disassembled. When the process is completed, the nanomachines can be removed from the spinal column of the subject, and the mind of the subject exists solely within the simulated neural network.

Alternatively, such a process might allow for the replacement of living neurons with artificial neurons one by one while the subject is still conscious, providing a smooth transition from an organic to synthetic brain – potentially significant for those who worry about the loss of personal continuity that other uploading processes may entail. This method has been likened to upgrading the whole internet by replacing, one by one, each computer connected to it with similar computers using newer hardware.

While many people are more comfortable with the idea of the gradual replacement of their natural selves than they are with some of the more radical and discontinuous mental transfer, it still raises questions of identity. Is the individual preserved in this process, and if not, at what point does the individual cease to exist? If the original entity ceases to exist, what is the nature and identity of the individual created within the simulated neural network, or can any individual be said to exist there at all? This gradual replacement leads to a much more complicated and sophisticated version of the Ship of Theseus paradox.

It may also be possible to use advanced neuroimaging technology (such as Magnetoencephalography) to build a detailed three-dimensional model of the brain using non-invasive and non-destructive methods. However, current imaging technology lacks the resolution needed to gather the information needed for such a scan.

Such a process would leave the original entity intact, but the existence, nature, and identity of the resulting being in the simulated network are still open philosophical questions.

Another recently conceived possibility[citation needed] is the use of genetically engineered viruses to attach to synaptic junctions, and then release energy-emitting molecular compounds, which could be detected externally, and used to generate a functional model of the synapses in question, and, given enough time, the whole brain and nervous system.

An alternate set of possible theoretical approaches to mind uploading would require that we first understand the functions of the human mind sufficiently well to create abstract models of parts, or the totality, of human mental processes. It would require that strong AI be not only a possibility, but that the techniques used to create a strong AI system could also be used to recreate a human type mentality.

Such approaches might be more desirable if the abstract models required less computational power to execute than the neural network simulation of the emulation techniques described above.

Another theoretically possible method of mind uploading from organic to inorganic medium, related to the idea described above of replacing neurons one at a time while consciousness remained intact, would be a much less precise but much more feasible (in terms of technology currently known to be physically possible) process of “cyborging”. Once a given person’s brain is mapped, it is replaced piece-by-piece with computer devices which perform the exact same function as the regions preceding them, after which the patient is allowed to regain consciousness and validate that there has not been some radical upheaval within his own subjective experience of reality. At this point, the patient’s brain is immediately “re-mapped” and another piece is replaced, and so on in this fashion until, the patient exists on a purely hardware medium and can be safely extricated from the remaining organic body.

However, critics contend[citation needed] that, given the significant level of synergy involved throughout the neural plexus, alteration of any given cell that is functionally correspondent with (a) neighboring cell(s) may well result in an alteration of its electrical and chemical properties that would not have existed without interference, and so the true individual’s signature is lost. Revokability of that disturbance may be possible with damage anticipation and correction (seeing the original by the particular damage rendered unto it, in reverse chronological fashion), although this would be easier in a stable system, meaning a brain subjected to cryosleep (which would imbue its own damage and alterations).[citation needed]

It has also been suggested (for example, in Greg Egan’s “jewelhead” stories[8]) that a detailed examination of the brain itself may not be required, that the brain could be treated as a black box instead and effectively duplicated “for all practical purposes” by merely duplicating how it responds to specific external stimuli. This leads into even deeper philosophical questions of what the “self” is.

On June 6, 2005 IBM and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne announced the launch of a project to build a complete simulation of the human brain, entitled the “Blue Brain Project”.[9] The project will use a supercomputer based on IBM’s Blue Gene design to map the entire electrical circuitry of the brain. The project seeks to research aspects of human cognition, and various psychiatric disorders caused by malfunctioning neurons, such as autism. Initial efforts are to focus on experimentally accurate, programmed characterization of a single neocortical column in the brain of a rat, as it is very similar to that of a human but at a smaller scale, then to expand to an entire neocortex (the alleged seat of higher intelligence) and eventually the human brain as a whole.

It is interesting to note that the Blue Brain project seems to use a combination of emulation and simulation techniques. The first stage of their program was to simulate a neocortical column at the molecular level. Now the program seems to be trying to create a simplified functional simulation of the neocortical column in order to simulate many of them, and to model their interactions.

With most projected mind uploading technology it is implicit that “copying” a consciousness could be as feasible as “moving” it, since these technologies generally involve simulating the human brain in a computer of some sort, and digital files such as computer programs can be copied precisely. It is also possible that the simulation could be created without the need to destroy the original brain, so that the computer-based consciousness would be a copy of the still-living biological person, although some proposed methods such as serial sectioning of the brain would necessarily be destructive. In both cases it is usually assumed that once the two versions are exposed to different sensory inputs, their experiences would begin to diverge, but all their memories up until the moment of the copying would remain the same.

By many definitions, both copies could be considered the “same person” as the single original consciousness before it was copied. At the same time, they can be considered distinct individuals once they begin to diverge, so the issue of which copy “inherits” what could be complicated. This problem is similar to that found when considering the possibility of teleportation, where in some proposed methods it is possible to copy (rather than only move) a mind or person. This is the classic philosophical issue of personal identity. The problem is made even more serious by the possibility of creating a potentially infinite number of initially identical copies of the original person, which would of course all exist simultaneously as distinct beings.

Philosopher John Locke published “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding” in 1689, in which he proposed the following criterion for personal identity: if you remember thinking something in the past, then you are the same person as he or she who did the thinking. Later philosophers raised various logical snarls, most of them caused by applying Boolean logic, the prevalent logic system at the time. It has been proposed that modern fuzzy logic can solve those problems,[10] showing that Locke’s basic idea is sound if one treats personal identity as a continuous rather than discrete value.

In that case, when a mind is copied — whether during mind uploading, or afterwards, or by some other means — the two copies are initially two instances of the very same person, but over time, they will gradually become different people to an increasing degree.

The issue of copying vs moving is sometimes cited as a reason to think that destructive methods of mind uploading such as serial sectioning of the brain would actually destroy the consciousness of the original and the upload would itself be a mere “copy” of that consciousness. Whether one believes that the original consciousness of the brain would transfer to the upload, that the original consciousness would be destroyed, or that this is simply a matter of definition and the question has no single “objectively true” answer, is ultimately a philosophical question that depends on one’s views of philosophy of mind.

Because of these philosophical questions about the survival of consciousness, there are some who would feel more comfortable about a method of uploading where the transfer is gradual, replacing the original brain with a new substrate over an extended period of time, during which the subject appears to be fully conscious (this can be seen as analogous to the natural biological replacement of molecules in our brains with new ones taken in from eating and breathing, which may lead to almost all the matter in our brains being replaced in as little as a few months[11]). As mentioned above, this would likely take place as a result of gradual cyborging, either nanoscopically or macroscopically, wherein the brain (the original copy) would slowly be replaced bit by bit with artificial parts that function in a near-identical manner, and assuming this was possible at all, the person would not necessarily notice any difference as more and more of their brain became artificial. A gradual transfer also brings up questions of identity similar to the classical Ship of Theseus paradox, although the above-mentioned natural replacement of molecules in the brain through eating and breathing brings up these questions as well.

A computer capable of simulating a person may require microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), or else perhaps optical or nano computing for comparable speed and reduced size and sophisticated telecommunication between the brain and body (whether it exists in virtual reality, artificially as an android, or cybernetically as in sync with a biological body through a transceiver), but would not seem to require molecular nanotechnology.

If minds and environments can be simulated, the Simulation Hypothesis posits that the reality we see may in fact be a computer simulation, and that this is actually the most likely possibility.[12]

Uploading is a common theme in science fiction. Some of the earlier instances of this theme were in the Roger Zelazny 1968 novel Lord of Light and in Frederik Pohl’s 1955 short story “Tunnel Under the World.” A near miss was Neil R. Jones’ 1931 short story “The Jameson Satellite”, wherein a person’s organic brain was installed in a machine, and Olaf Stapledon’s “Last and First Men” (1930) had organic human-like brains grown into an immobile machine.

Another of the “firsts” is the novel Detta r verkligheten (This is reality), 1968, by the renowned philosopher and logician Bertil Mrtensson, in which he describes people living in an uploaded state as a means to control overpopulation. The uploaded people believe that they are “alive”, but in reality they are playing elaborate and advanced fantasy games. In a twist at the end, the author changes everything into one of the best “multiverse” ideas of science fiction. Together with the 1969 book Ubik by Philip K. Dick it takes the subject to its furthest point of all the early novels in the field.

Frederik Pohl’s Gateway series (also known as the Heechee Saga) deals with a human being, Robinette Broadhead, who “dies” and, due to the efforts of his wife, a computer scientist, as well as the computer program Sigfrid von Shrink, is uploaded into the “64 Gigabit space” (now archaic, but Fred Pohl wrote Gateway in 1976). The Heechee Saga deals with the physical, social, sexual, recreational, and scientific nature of cyberspace before William Gibson’s award-winning Neuromancer, and the interactions between cyberspace and “meatspace” commonly depicted in cyberpunk fiction. In Neuromancer, a hacking tool used by the main character is an artificial infomorph of a notorious cyber-criminal, Dixie Flatline. The infomorph only assists in exchange for the promise that he be deleted after the mission is complete.

In the 1982 novel Software, part of the Ware Tetralogy by Rudy Rucker, one of the main characters, Cobb Anderson, has his mind uploaded and his body replaced with an extremely human-like android body. The robots who persuade Anderson into doing this sell the process to him as a way to become immortal.

In the 1997 novel “Shade’s Children” by Garth Nix, one of the main characters Shade (a.k.a. Robert Ingman) is an uploaded consciousness that guides the other characters through the post-apocolyptic world in which they live.

The fiction of Greg Egan has explored many of the philosophical, ethical, legal, and identity aspects of mind uploading, as well as the financial and computing aspects (i.e., hardware, software, processing power) of maintaining “copies”. In Egan’s Permutation City and Diaspora, “copies” are made by computer simulation of scanned brain physiology. Also, in Egan’s “Jewelhead” stories, the mind is transferred from the organic brain to a small, immortal backup computer at the base of the skull, with the organic brain then being surgically removed.

The Takeshi Kovacs novels by Richard Morgan was set in a universe where mind transfers were a part of standard life. With the use of cortical stacks, which record a person’s memories and personality into a device implanted in the spinal vertebrae, it was possible to copy the individual’s mind to a storage system at the time of death. The stack could be uploaded to a virtual reality environment for interrogation, entertainment, or to pass the time for long distance travel. The stack could also be implanted into a new body or “sleeve” which may or may not have biomechanical, genetic, or chemical “upgrades” since the sleeve could be grown or manufactured. Interstellar travel is most often accomplished by digitized human freight (“dhf”) over faster-than-light needlecast transmission.

In the “Requiem for Homo Sapiens” series of novels by David Zindell (Neverness, The Broken God, The Wild, and War in Heaven), the verb “cark” is used for uploading one’s mind (and also for changing one’s DNA). Carking is done for soul-preservation purposes by the members of the Architects church, and also for more sinister (or simply unknowable) purposes by the various “gods” that populate the galaxy such gods being human minds that have now grown into planet- or nebula-sized synthetic brains. The climax of the series centers around the struggle to prevent one character from creating a Universal Computer (under his control) that will incorporate all human minds (and indeed, the entire structure of the universe).

In the popular computer game Total Annihilation, the 4,000-year war that eventually culminated with the destruction of the Milky Way galaxy was started over the issue of mind transfer, with one group (the Arm) resisting another group (the Core) who were attempting to enforce a 100% conversion rate of humanity into machines, because machines are durable and modular, thereby making it a “public health measure.”

In the popular science fiction show Stargate SG-1 the alien race who call themselves the Asgard rely solely on cloning and mind transferring to continue their existence. This was not a choice they made, but a result of the decay of the Asgard genome due to excessive cloning, which also caused the Asgard to lose their ability to reproduce. In the episode “Tin Man”, SG-1 encounter Harlan, the last of a race that transferred their minds to robots in order to survive. SG-1 then discover that their minds have also been transferred to robot bodies. Eventually they learn that their minds were copied rather than uploaded and that the “original” SG-1 are still alive.

The Thirteenth Floor is a film made in 1999 directed by Josef Rusnak. In the film, a scientific team discovers a technology to create a fully functioning virtual world which they could experience by taking control of the bodies of simulated characters in the world, all of whom were self-aware. One plot twist was that if the virtual body a person had taken control of was killed in the simulation while they were controlling it, then the mind of the simulated character the body originally belonged to would take over the body of that person in the “real world”.

The Matrix is a film released the same year as The Thirteenth Floor that has the same kind of solipsistic philosophy. In The Matrix, the protagonist Neo finds out that the world he has been living in is nothing but a simulated dreamworld. However, this should be considered as virtual reality rather than mind uploading, since Neo’s physical brain still is required to reside his mind. The mind (the information content of the brain) is not copied into an emulated brain in a computer. Neo’s physical brain is connected into the Matrix via a brain-machine interface. Only the rest of the physical body is simulated. Neo is disconnected from this dreamworld by human rebels fighting against AI-driven machines in what seems to be a neverending war. During the course of the movie, Neo and his friends are connected back into the Matrix dreamworld in order to fight the machine race.

In the series Battlestar Galactica the antagonists of the story are the Cylons, sentient computers created by man which developed to become nearly identical to human beings. When they die they rely on mind transferring to keep on living so that “death becomes a learning experience”.

The 1995 movie Strange Days explores the idea of a technology capable of recording a conscious event. However, in this case, the mind itself is not uploaded into the device. The recorded event, which time frame is limited to that of the recording session, is frozen in time on a data disc much like today’s audio and video. Wearing the “helmet” in playback mode, another person can experience the external stimuli interpretation of the brain, the memories, the feelings, the thoughts and the actions that the original person recorded from his/her life. During playback, the observer temporarily quits his own memories and state of consciousness (the real self). In other words, one can “live” a moment in the life of another person, and one can “live” the same moment of his/her life more than once. In the movie, a direct link to a remote helmet can also be established, allowing another person to experience a live event.

Followers of the Ralian religion advocate mind uploading in the process of human cloning to achieve eternal life. Living inside of a computer is also seen by followers as an eminent possibility.[13]

However, mind uploading is also advocated by a number of secular researchers in neuroscience and artificial intelligence, such as Marvin Minsky. In 1993, Joe Strout created a small web site called the Mind Uploading Home Page, and began advocating the idea in Cryonics circles and elsewhere on the net. That site has not been actively updated in recent years, but it has spawned other sites including MindUploading.org, run by Randal A. Koene, Ph.D., who also moderates a mailing list on the topic. These advocates see mind uploading as a medical procedure which could eventually save countless lives.

Many Transhumanists look forward to the development and deployment of mind uploading technology, with many predicting that it will become possible within the 21st century due to technological trends such as Moore’s Law. Many view it as the end phase of the Transhumanist project, which might be said to begin with the genetic engineering of biological humans, continue with the cybernetic enhancement of genetically engineered humans, and finally obtain with the replacement of all remaining biological aspects.

The book Beyond Humanity: CyberEvolution and Future Minds by Gregory S. Paul & Earl D. Cox, is about the eventual (and, to the authors, almost inevitable) evolution of computers into sentient beings, but also deals with human mind transfer.

Raymond Kurzweil, a prominent advocate of transhumanism and the likelihood of a technological singularity, has suggested that the easiest path to human-level artificial intelligence may lie in “reverse-engineering the human brain”, which he usually uses to refer to the creation of a new intelligence based on the general “principles of operation” of the brain, but he also sometimes uses the term to refer to the notion of uploading individual human minds based on highly detailed scans and simulations. This idea is discussed on pp. 198-203 of his book The Singularity is Near, for example.

Hans Moravec describes and advocates mind uploading in both his 1988 book Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence and also his 2000 book Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind. Moravec is referred to by Marvin Minsky in Minsky’s essay Will Robots Inherit the Earth?.[14]

fr:Tlchargement de l’esprit ja: ru:

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Homepage of Martin W Ball

Posted: November 30, 2016 at 6:41 pm

Greetings fellow travelers and welcome!

I’m honored that your journey has brought you here and I pay respect to the Divine Being that you are. You are welcome to all that I have to offer.

Here you will find information about my work and creations from my various projects in life: awakening, entheogens, music, books, podcasts, art, and more. My goal is to help others through creativity, knowledge, wisdom, and inspiration. What motivates me is the love of Truth and the quest to live in Reality as a Fully Awakened Human Being, centered in the knowledge of our Unitary Being. I am here to serve as a mirror; clear, reflective, and free from distortion and illusion, offering to help other versions of the Self find clarity and self-knowledge within.

As an independent artist, musician, author and publisher, I depend on the support of others to continue my work. If you find that what I have to offer speaks to you, then I encourage you to consider purchasing a book, CD, or art product. I am also always happy to field questions about entheogens and personal experience and encourage you to explore my podcast, “The Entheogenic Evolution.”

My latest release, which is now available, (June, 2014) is Being Infinite: An Entheogenic Odyssey into the Limitless Eternal – A Memoir from Ayahuasca to Zen, which chronicles my personal awakening and transformation through exploration of the Self via 5-MeO-DMT, Ayahuasca, Salvia divinorum, and other entheogenic medicines. It is available in paperback and digital ebook formats.

Being Infinite, 2014. 330 pages. $19.95, plus shipping (international order, please use Amazon)

Being Infinite, paperback

And to get you in the mood for the book, here’s a short promo video. Full-screen HD version recommended

May your journey bring you to the only place there is to go: into who you really are.

Martin

For more information about my nondual understanding

of the nature of being and role of entheogens in

cultivating personal awareness, visit my site:

http://www.entheological-paradigm.net

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FM-2030 – Wikipedia

Posted: at 6:31 pm

FM-2030 (October 15, 1930 July 8, 2000) was an author, teacher, transhumanist philosopher, futurist, consultant and athlete.[1] FM-2030 was born Fereidoun M. Esfandiary (Persian: ).

He became notable as a transhumanist with the book Are You a Transhuman?: Monitoring and Stimulating Your Personal Rate of Growth in a Rapidly Changing World, published in 1989. In addition, he wrote a number of works of fiction under his original name F.M. Esfandiary.

The son of an Iranian diplomat, he travelled widely as a child, living in 17 countries by age 11; then, as a young man, he represented Iran as a basketball player at the 1948 Olympic Games in London[2] and served on the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine from 1952 to 1954.[3]

In the mid-1970s F.M. Esfandiary legally[4] changed his name to FM-2030 for two main reasons. Firstly, to reflect the hope and belief that he would live to celebrate his 100th birthday in 2030; secondly, and more importantly, to break free of the widespread practice of naming conventions that he saw as rooted in a collectivist mentality, and existing only as a relic of humankind’s tribalistic past. He viewed traditional names as almost always stamping a label of collective identityvarying from gender to nationalityon the individual, thereby existing as prima facie elements of thought processes in the human cultural fabric, that tended to degenerate into stereotyping, factionalism, and discrimination. In his own words, “Conventional names define a person’s past: ancestry, ethnicity, nationality, religion. I am not who I was ten years ago and certainly not who I will be in twenty years. […] The name 2030 reflects my conviction that the years around 2030 will be a magical time. In 2030 we will be ageless and everyone will have an excellent chance to live forever. 2030 is a dream and a goal.”[5]

He was a lifelong vegetarian and said he would not eat anything that had a mother.[6] FM-2030 once said, “I am a 21st century person who was accidentally launched in the 20th. I have a deep nostalgia for the future.”[7] He taught at The New School, UCLA, and Florida International University.[1] He worked as a corporate consultant for Lockheed and J.C. Penney.[1] He was married to transhumanist Natasha Vita-More until his death/cryonic suspension.[8]

On July 8, 2000, FM-2030 died from pancreatic cancer and was placed in cryonic suspension at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona, where his body remains today.[9] He did not yet have remote standby arrangements, so no Alcor team member was present at his death, but FM-2030 was the first person to be vitrified, rather than simply frozen as previous cryonics patients had been.[6] FM-2030 was survived by four sisters and one brother.[citation needed]

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FM-2030 – Wikipedia

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N. Katherine Hayles – Wikipedia

Posted: November 25, 2016 at 10:16 am

N. Katherine Hayles (born 16 December 1943) is a postmodern literary critic, most notable for her contribution to the fields of literature and science, electronic literature, and American literature.[1] She is professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Program in Literature at Duke University.[2]

Hayles was born in Saint Louis, Missouri to Edward and Thelma Bruns. She received her B.S. in Chemistry from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1966, and her M.S. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1969. She worked as a research chemist in 1966 at Xerox Corporation and as a chemical research consultant Beckman Instrument Company from 1968-1970. Hayles then switched fields and received her M.A. in English Literature from Michigan State University in 1970, and her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Rochester in 1977.[3] She is a social and literary critic.

Her scholarship primarily focuses on the “relations between science, literature, and technology.”[4][5] Hayles has taught at UCLA, University of Iowa, University of MissouriRolla, the California Institute of Technology, and Dartmouth College.[3] She was the faculty director of the Electronic Literature Organization from 2001-2006.[6]

Hayles understands “human” and “posthuman” as constructions that emerge from historically specific understandings of technology, culture and embodiment; “human and “posthuman” views each produce unique models of subjectivity.[7] Within this framework “human” is aligned with Enlightenment notions of liberal humanism, including its emphasis on the “natural self” and the freedom of the individual.[8] Conversely, Posthuman does away with the notion of a “natural” self and emerges when human intelligence is conceptualized as being co-produced with intelligent machines. According to Hayles the posthuman view privileges information over materiality, considers consciousness as an epiphenomenon and imagines the body as a prosthesis for the mind .[9] Specifically Hayles suggests that in the posthuman view “there are no essential differences or absolute demarcations between bodily existence and computer simulation…”[8] The posthuman thus emerges as a deconstruction of the liberal humanist notion of “human.”

Despite drawing out the differences between “human” and “posthuman”, Hayles is careful to note that both perspectives engage in the erasure of embodiment from subjectivity.[10] In the liberal humanist view, cognition takes precedence over the body, which is narrated as an object to possess and master. Meanwhile, popular conceptions of the cybernetic posthuman imagine the body as merely a container for information and code. Noting the alignment between these two perspectives, Hayles uses How We Became Posthuman to investigate the social and cultural processes and practices that led to the conceptualization of information as separate from the material that instantiates it.[11] Drawing on diverse examples, such as Turing’s Imitation Game, Gibson’s Neuromancer and cybernetic theory, Hayles traces the history of what she calls “the cultural perception that information and materiality are conceptually distinct and that information is in some sense more essential, more important and more fundamental than materiality.”[12] By tracing the emergence of such thinking, and by looking at the manner in which literary and scientific texts came to imagine, for example, the possibility of downloading human consciousness into a computer, Hayles attempts to trouble the information/material separation and in her words, “…put back into the picture the flesh that continues to be erased in contemporary discussions about cybernetic subjects.[13]

In the years since Hayles’ How We Became Posthuman was published, it has been both praised and critiqued by scholars who have viewed her work through a variety of lenses; including those of cybernetic history, feminism, postmodernism, cultural and literary criticism, and conversations in the popular press about humans’ changing relationships to technology.

Reactions to Hayles’ writing style, general organization, and scope of the book have been mixed. The book is generally praised for displaying depth and scope in its combining of scientific ideas and literary criticism. Linda Brigham of Kansas State University claims that Hayles manages to lead the text “across diverse, historically contentious terrain by means of a carefully crafted and deliberate organizational structure.”[14] Some scholars found her prose difficult to read or over-complicated. Andrew Pickering describes the book as “hard going” and lacking of “straightforward presentation.”[15] Dennis Weiss of York College of Pennsylvania accuses Hayles of “unnecessarily complicat[ing] her framework for thinking about the body”, for example by using terms such as “body” and “embodiment” ambiguously. Weiss however acknowledges as convincing her use of science fiction in order to reveal how “the narrowly focused, abstract constellation of ideas” of cybernetics circulate through a broader cultural context.[16] Craig Keating of Langara College on the contrary argues that the obscurity of some texts questions their ability to function as the conduit for scientific ideas.[17]

Several scholars reviewing How We Became Posthuman highlighted the strengths and shortcomings of her book vis a vis its relationship to feminism. Amelia Jones of University of Southern California describes Hayles’ work as reacting to the misogynistic discourse of the field of cybernetics.[18] As Pickering wrote, Hayles’ promotion of an “embodied posthumanism” challenges cybernetics’ “equation of human-ness with disembodied information” for being “another male trick to feminists tired of the devaluation of women’s bodily labor.”[15] Stephanie Turner of Purdue University also described Hayles’ work as an opportunity to challenge prevailing concepts of the human subject which assumed the body was white, male, and European, but suggested Hayles’ dialectic method may have taken too many interpretive risks, leaving some questions open about “which interventions promise the best directions to take.”[19]

Reviewers were mixed about Hayles’ construction of the posthuman subject. Weiss describes Hayles’ work as challenging the simplistic dichotomy of human and post-human subjects in order to “rethink the relationship between human beings and intelligent machines,” however suggests that in her attempt to set her vision of the posthuman apart from the “realist, objectivist epistemology characteristic of first-wave cybernetics”, she too, falls back on universalist discourse, premised this time on how cognitive science is able to reveal the “true nature of the self.”[16] Jones similarly described Hayles’ work as reacting to cybernetics’ disembodiment of the human subject by swinging too far towards an insistence on a “physical reality” of the body apart from discourse. Jones argued that reality is rather “determined in and through the way we view, articulate, and understand the world”.[18]

In terms of the strength of Hayles’ arguments regarding the return of materiality to information, several scholars expressed doubt on the validity of the provided grounds, notably evolutionary psychology. Keating claims that while Hayles is following evolutionary psychological arguments in order to argue for the overcoming of the disembodiment of knowledge, she provides “no good reason to support this proposition.”[17] Brigham describes Hayles’ attempt to connect autopoietic circularity to “an inadequacy in Maturana’s attempt to account for evolutionary change” as unjustified.[14] Weiss suggests that she makes the mistake of “adhering too closely to the realist, objectivist discourse of the sciences,” the same mistake she criticizes Weiner and Maturana for committing.[16]

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Golden Rule – Wikipedia

Posted: November 23, 2016 at 10:04 pm

The Golden Rule or law of reciprocity is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated oneself. It is a maxim of altruism seen in many human religions and human cultures.[1][2] The maxim may appear as either a positive or negative injunction governing conduct:

The Golden Rule differs from the maxim of reciprocity captured in do ut des”I give so that you will give in return”and is rather a unilateral moral commitment to the well-being of the other without the expectation of anything in return.[3]

The concept occurs in some form in nearly every religion[4][5] and ethical tradition.[6] It can also be explained from the perspectives of psychology, philosophy, sociology, and economics. Psychologically, it involves a person empathizing with others. Philosophically, it involves a person perceiving their neighbor also as “I” or “self”.[7] Sociologically, ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ is applicable between individuals, between groups, and also between individuals and groups. In economics, Richard Swift, referring to ideas from David Graeber, suggests that “without some kind of reciprocity society would no longer be able to exist.”[8]

The term “Golden Rule”, or “Golden law” began to be used widely in the early 17th century in Britain; the earliest known usage is that of Charles Gibbon in 1604.[1][9]

Possibly the earliest affirmation of the maxim of reciprocity, reflecting the ancient Egyptian goddess Ma’at, appears in the story of The Eloquent Peasant, which dates to the Middle Kingdom (c. 2040 c. 1650 BC): “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to make him do.”[10][11] This proverb embodies the do ut des principle.[12] A Late Period (c. 664 BC 323 BC) papyrus contains an early negative affirmation of the Golden Rule: “That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.”[13]

The Golden Rule appears in the following Biblical verse: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18)

The Golden Rule existed among all the major philosophical schools of ancient China: Mohism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Examples of the concept include:

In Mahbhrata, the ancient epic of India, comes a discourse where the wise minister Vidura advises the King Yuddhihhira thus, “Listening to wise scriptures, austerity, sacrifice, respectful faith, social welfare, forgiveness, purity of intent, compassion, truth and self-control are the ten wealth of character (self). O king aim for these, may you be steadfast in these qualities. These are the basis of prosperity and rightful living. These are highest attainable things. All worlds are balanced on dharma, dharma encompasses ways to prosperity as well. O King, dharma is the best quality to have, wealth the medium and desire (kma) the lowest. Hence, (keeping these in mind), by self-control and by making dharma (right conduct) your main focus, treat others as you treat yourself.”

tasmd_dharma-pradhnna bhavitavyam yattman | tath cha sarva-bhthu vartitavyam yathtmani || ( || Mahbhrata Shnti-Parva 167:9)

In the Section on Virtue, and Chapter 32 of the Tirukkua (c. 200 BC c. 500 AD), Tiruvalluvar says: Why does a man inflict upon other creatures those sufferings, which he has found by experience are sufferings to himself? (K. 318) Let not a man consent to do those things to another which, he knows, will cause sorrow. (K. 316) He furthermore opined that it is the determination of the spotless (virtuous) not to do evil, even in return, to those who have cherished enmity and done them evil. (K. 312) The (proper) punishment to those who have done evil (to you), is to put them to shame by showing them kindness, in return and to forget both the evil and the good done on both sides. (K. 314)

The Golden Rule in its prohibitive (negative) form was a common principle in ancient Greek philosophy. Examples of the general concept include:

The Pahlavi Texts of Zoroastrianism (c. 300 BC1000 AD) were an early source for the Golden Rule: “That nature alone is good which refrains from doing to another whatsoever is not good for itself.” Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5, and “Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others.” Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29[20]

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC65 AD), a practitioner of Stoicism (c. 300 BC200 AD) expressed the Golden Rule in his essay regarding the treatment of slaves: “Treat your inferior as you would wish your superior to treat you.” The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca.[21]

A rule of altruistic reciprocity was first stated positively in a well-known Torah verse (Hebrew: ” “):

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Hillel the Elder (c. 110 BCE 10 CE),[22] used this verse as a most important message of the Torah for his teachings. Once, he was challenged by a gentile who asked to be converted under the condition that the Torah be explained to him while he stood on one foot. Hillel accepted him as a candidate for conversion to Judaism but, drawing on Leviticus 19:18, briefed the man:

What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.

Hillel recognized brotherly love as the fundamental principle of Jewish ethics. Rabbi Akiva agreed and suggested that the principle of love must have its foundation in Genesis chapter 1, which teaches that all men are the offspring of Adam who was made in the image of God (Sifra, edoshim, iv.; Yer. Ned. ix. 41c; Genesis Rabba 24).[23] According to Jewish rabbinic literature, the first man Adam represents the unity of mankind. This is echoed in the modern preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[24][25] And it is also taught, that Adam is last in order according to the evolutionary character of God’s creation:[23]

Why was only a single specimen of man created first? To teach us that he who destroys a single soul destroys a whole world and that he who saves a single soul saves a whole world; furthermore, so no race or class may claim a nobler ancestry, saying, ‘Our father was born first’; and, finally, to give testimony to the greatness of the Lord, who caused the wonderful diversity of mankind to emanate from one type. And why was Adam created last of all beings? To teach him humility; for if he be overbearing, let him remember that the little fly preceded him in the order of creation.[23]

The Jewish Publication Society’s edition of Leviticus:

This Torah verse represents one of several versions of the Golden Rule, which itself appears in various forms, positive and negative. It is the earliest written version of that concept in a positive form.[27]

At the turn of the eras, the Jewish rabbis were discussing the scope of the meaning of Leviticus 19:18 and 19:34 extensively:

The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the LORD am your God.

Commentators summed up foreigners (= Samaritans), proselytes (= ‘strangers who resides with you’) (Rabbi Akiva, bQuid 75b) or Jews (Rabbi Gamaliel, yKet 3,1; 27a) to the scope of the meaning.

The Sage Hillel formulated an alternative form of the golden rule. When asked to sum up the entire Torah concisely, he explained, and taught the proselyte:[28]

That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn it.

On the verse, “Love your fellow as yourself,” the classic commentator Rashi quotes from Torat Kohanim, an early Midrashic text regarding the famous dictum of Rabbi Akiva: “Love your fellow as yourself Rabbi Akiva says this is a great principle of the Torah.”[29]

Israel’s postal service quoted from the previous Leviticus verse when it commemorated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on a 1958 postage stamp.[30]

According to Simon Blackburn, although the Golden Rule “can be found in some form in almost every ethical tradition”, the rule is “sometimes claimed by Christianity as its own”.[31] The “Golden Rule” has been attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, who used it to summarize the Torah: “Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets”[32] (Matthew 7:12 NCV, see also Luke 6:31). The common English phrasing is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. A similar form appeared in a Catholic catechism around 1567 (certainly in the reprint of 1583).[33] The Golden Rule is stated positively numerous times in the Hebrew Pentateuch as well as the Prophets and Writings. Leviticus 19:18 (“Forget about the wrong things people do to you, and do not try to get even. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”; see also Great Commandment) and Leviticus 19:34 (“But treat them just as you treat your own citizens. Love foreigners as you love yourselves, because you were foreigners one time in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”).

The Old Testament Deuterocanonical books of Tobit and Sirach, accepted as part of the Scriptural canon by Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the Non-Chalcedonian Churches, express a negative form of the golden rule:

“Do to no one what you yourself dislike.”

Tobit 4:15

“Recognize that your neighbor feels as you do, and keep in mind your own dislikes.”

Sirach 31:15

At the time of Hillel, an elder contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth, the negative form of the golden rule was already proverbial among Second Temple Jews. When asked to sum up the entire Torah concisely, he answered:

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

Talmud, Shabbat 31a

Two passages in the New Testament quote Jesus of Nazareth espousing the positive form of the rule:

Matthew 7:12

Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets.

Luke 6:31

Do to others what you would want them to do to you.

A similar passage, a parallel to the Great Commandment, is Luke 10:25-28

25And one day an authority on the law stood up to put Jesus to the test. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to receive eternal life?”

26What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you understand it?” 27He answered, ” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength and with all your mind.(Deuteronomy 6:5) And, Love your neighbor as you love yourself. ” 28″You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do that, and you will live.”.

The passage in the book of Luke then continues with Jesus answering the question, “Who is my neighbor?”, by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan, indicating that “your neighbor” is anyone in need.[34] This extends to all, including those who are generally considered hostile.

Jesus’ teaching goes beyond the negative formulation of not doing what one would not like done to themselves, to the positive formulation of actively doing good to another that, if the situations were reversed, one would desire that the other would do for them. This formulation, as indicated in the parable of the Good Samaritan, emphasizes the needs for positive action that brings benefit to another, not simply restraining oneself from negative activities that hurt another. Taken as a rule of judgment, both formulations of the golden rule, the negative and positive, are equally applicable.[35]

In one passage of the New Testament Paul the Apostle refers to the golden rule:

Galatians 5:14

14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

The Golden Rule is implicitly expressed in some verses of the Quran, and is explicitly declared in the sayings of Muhammad. A common transliteration is: Aheb li akheek ma tuhibu li nafsik. This can be translated as “Wish for your brother, what you wish for yourself” or “Love for your brother what you love for yourself”.

From the Quran: the first verse recommends the positive form of the rule, and the subsequent verses condemn not abiding the negative form of the Golden Rule:

“…and you should forgive And overlook: Do you not like God to forgive you? And Allah is The Merciful Forgiving.”

“Woe to those… who, when they have to receive by measure from men, they demand exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due”

“…orphans and the needy, give them something and speak kindly to them. And those who are concerned about the welfare of their own children after their death, should have fear of God [Treat other people’s Orphans justly] and guide them properly.”

“O you who believe! Spend [benevolently] of the good things that you have earned… and do not even think of spending [in alms] worthless things that you yourselves would be reluctant to accept.”

From the hadith, the collected oral and written accounts of Muhammad and his teachings during his lifetime:

A Bedouin came to the prophet, grabbed the stirrup of his camel and said: O the messenger of God! Teach me something to go to heaven with it. Prophet said: “As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don’t do to them. Now let the stirrup go! [This maxim is enough for you; go and act in accordance with it!]”

“None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”

“Seek for mankind that of which you are desirous for yourself, that you may be a believer.”

“That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind.”[37]

“The most righteous person is the one who consents for other people what he consents for himself, and who dislikes for them what he dislikes for himself.”[37]

Ali ibn Abi Talib (4th Caliph in Sunni Islam, and first Imam in Shia Islam) says:

“O’ my child, make yourself the measure (for dealings) between you and others. Thus, you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself. Do not oppress as you do not like to be oppressed. Do good to others as you would like good to be done to you. Regard bad for yourself whatever you regard bad for others. Accept that (treatment) from others which you would like others to accept from you… Do not say to others what you do not like to be said to you.”

Other hadiths containing the golden rule are:

The Writings of the Bah’ Faith while encouraging everyone to treat others as they would treat themselves, go further by introducing the concept of preferring others before oneself:

O SON OF MAN! Deny not My servant should he ask anything from thee, for his face is My face; be then abashed before Me.

Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself.

And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself.

Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not.

One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to ones own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires.

By making dharma (right conduct) your main focus, treat others as you treat yourself[48]

Also,

Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama, c. 623 c. 543 BC)[49][50] made this principle one of the cornerstones of his ethics in the 6th century BC. It occurs in many places and in many forms throughout the Tripitaka.

Comparing oneself to others in such terms as “Just as I am so are they, just as they are so am I,” he should neither kill nor cause others to kill.

One who, while himself seeking happiness, oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness hereafter.

Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.

Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill.[51]

The Golden Rule is paramount in the Jainist philosophy and can be seen in the doctrines of Ahimsa and Karma. As part of the prohibition of causing any living beings to suffer, Jainism forbids inflicting upon others what is harmful to oneself.

The following quotation from the Acaranga Sutra sums up the philosophy of Jainism:

Nothing which breathes, which exists, which lives, or which has essence or potential of life, should be destroyed or ruled over, or subjugated, or harmed, or denied of its essence or potential.

In support of this Truth, I ask you a question “Is sorrow or pain desirable to you?” If you say “yes it is”, it would be a lie. If you say, “No, It is not” you will be expressing the truth. Just as sorrow or pain is not desirable to you, so it is to all which breathe, exist, live or have any essence of life. To you and all, it is undesirable, and painful, and repugnant.[52]

A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.

Sutrakritanga, 1.11.33

In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.

Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara

Saman Suttam of Jinendra Varni[53] gives further insight into this precept:-

Just as pain is not agreeable to you, it is so with others. Knowing this principle of equality treat other with respect and compassion.

Suman Suttam, verse 150

Killing a living being is killing one’s own self; showing compassion to a living being is showing compassion to oneself. He who desires his own good, should avoid causing any harm to a living being.

Suman Suttam, verse 151

Precious like jewels are the minds of all. To hurt them is not at all good. If thou desirest thy Beloved, then hurt thou not anyone’s heart.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji 259, Guru Granth Sahib

The same idea is also presented in V.12 and VI.30 of the Analects (c. 500 BC), which can be found in the online Chinese Text Project. It should be noted, however, that the phraseology differs from the Christian version of the Golden Rule. It does not presume to do anything unto others, but merely to avoid doing what would be harmful. It does not preclude doing good deeds and taking moral positions, but there is slim possibility for a Confucian missionary outlook, such as one can justify with the Christian Golden Rule.

The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful.

Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.

If people regarded other peoples states in the same way that they regard their own, who then would incite their own state to attack that of another? For one would do for others as one would do for oneself. If people regarded other peoples cities in the same way that they regard their own, who then would incite their own city to attack that of another? For one would do for others as one would do for oneself. If people regarded other peoples families in the same way that they regard their own, who then would incite their own family to attack that of another? For one would do for others as one would do for oneself. And so if states and cities do not attack one another and families do not wreak havoc upon and steal from one another, would this be a harm to the world or a benefit? Of course one must say it is a benefit to the world.

[55]

Mozi regarded the golden rule as a corollary to the cardinal virtue of impartiality, and encouraged egalitarianism and selflessness in relationships.

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Libertarianism (metaphysics) – Wikipedia

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Libertarianism is one of the main philosophical positions related to the problems of free will and determinism, which are part of the larger domain of metaphysics.[1] In particular, libertarianism, which is an incompatibilist position,[2][3] argues that free will is logically incompatible with a deterministic universe and that agents have free will, and that, therefore, determinism is false.[4] Although compatibilism, the view that determinism and free will are in fact compatible, is the most popular position on free will amongst professional philosophers,[5] metaphysical libertarianism is discussed, though not necessarily endorsed, by several philosophers, such as Peter van Inwagen, Robert Kane, Robert Nozick,[6]Carl Ginet, Harry Frankfurt, E.J. Lowe, Alfred Mele, Roderick Chisholm, Daniel Dennett,[7] and Galen Strawson.[8]

The first recorded use of the term “libertarianism” was in 1789 by William Belsham in a discussion of free will and in opposition to “necessitarian” (or determinist) views.[9][10]

Metaphysical libertarianism is one philosophical view point under that of incompatibilism. Libertarianism holds onto a concept of free will that requires the agent to be able to take more than one possible course of action under a given set of circumstances.

Accounts of libertarianism subdivide into non-physical theories and physical or naturalistic theories. Non-physical theories hold that the events in the brain that lead to the performance of actions do not have an entirely physical explanation, and consequently the world is not closed under physics. Such interactionist dualists believe that some non-physical mind, will, or soul overrides physical causality.

Explanations of libertarianism that do not involve dispensing with physicalism require physical indeterminism, such as probabilistic subatomic particle behavior a theory unknown to many of the early writers on free will. Physical determinism, under the assumption of physicalism, implies there is only one possible future and is therefore not compatible with libertarian free will. Some libertarian explanations involve invoking panpsychism, the theory that a quality of mind is associated with all particles, and pervades the entire universe, in both animate and inanimate entities. Other approaches do not require free will to be a fundamental constituent of the universe; ordinary randomness is appealed to as supplying the “elbow room” believed to be necessary by libertarians.

Free volition is regarded as a particular kind of complex, high-level process with an element of indeterminism. An example of this kind of approach has been developed by Robert Kane,[11] where he hypothesises that,

In each case, the indeterminism is functioning as a hindrance or obstacle to her realizing one of her purposesa hindrance or obstacle in the form of resistance within her will which has to be overcome by effort.

At the time C. S. Lewis wrote Miracles,[12]quantum mechanics (and physical indeterminism) was only in the initial stages of acceptance, but still Lewis stated the logical possibility that, if the physical world was proved to be indeterministic, this would provide an entry (interaction) point into the traditionally viewed closed system, where a scientifically described physically probable/improbable event could be philosophically described as an action of a non-physical entity on physical reality. He states, however, that none of the arguments in his book will rely on this.[citation needed]

Nozick puts forward an indeterministic theory of free will in Philosophical Explanations.[6]

When human beings become agents through reflexive self-awareness, they express their agency by having reasons for acting, to which they assign weights. Choosing the dimensions of one’s identity is a special case, in which the assigning of weight to a dimension is partly self-constitutive. But all acting for reasons is constitutive of the self in a broader sense, namely, by its shaping one’s character and personality in a manner analogous to the shaping that law undergoes through the precedent set by earlier court decisions. Just as a judge does not merely apply the law but to some degree makes it through judicial discretion, so too a person does not merely discover weights but assigns them; one not only weighs reasons but also weights them. Set in train is a process of building a framework for future decisions that we are tentatively committed to.

The lifelong process of self-definition in this broader sense is construed indeterministically by Nozick. The weighting is “up to us” in the sense that it is undetermined by antecedent causal factors, even though subsequent action is fully caused by the reasons one has accepted. He compares assigning weights in this deterministic sense to “the currently orthodox interpretation of quantum mechanics”, following von Neumann in understanding a quantum mechanical system as in a superposition or probability mixture of states, which changes continuously in accordance with quantum mechanical equations of motion and discontinuously via measurement or observation that “collapses the wave packet” from a superposition to a particular state. Analogously, a person before decision has reasons without fixed weights: he is in a superposition of weights. The process of decision reduces the superposition to a particular state that causes action.

Kane is one of the leading contemporary philosophers on free will.[13][14][verification needed] Advocating what is termed within philosophical circles “libertarian freedom”, Kane argues that “(1) the existence of alternative possibilities (or the agent’s power to do otherwise) is a necessary condition for acting freely, and that (2) determinism is not compatible with alternative possibilities (it precludes the power to do otherwise)”.[15] It is important to note that the crux of Kane’s position is grounded not in a defense of alternative possibilities (AP) but in the notion of what Kane refers to as ultimate responsibility (UR). Thus, AP is a necessary but insufficient criterion for free will.[citation needed] It is necessary that there be (metaphysically) real alternatives for our actions, but that is not enough; our actions could be random without being in our control. The control is found in “ultimate responsibility”.

Ultimate responsibility entails that agents must be the ultimate creators (or originators) and sustainers of their own ends and purposes. There must be more than one way for a person’s life to turn out (AP). More importantly, whichever way it turns out must be based in the person’s willing actions. As Kane defines it,

UR: An agent is ultimately responsible for some (event or state) E’s occurring only if (R) the agent is personally responsible for E’s occurring in a sense which entails that something the agent voluntarily (or willingly) did or omitted either was, or causally contributed to, E’s occurrence and made a difference to whether or not E occurred; and (U) for every X and Y (where X and Y represent occurrences of events and/or states) if the agent is personally responsible for X and if Y is an arche (sufficient condition, cause or motive) for X, then the agent must also be personally responsible for Y.

In short, “an agent must be responsible for anything that is a sufficient reason (condition, cause or motive) for the action’s occurring.”[16]

What allows for ultimacy of creation in Kane’s picture are what he refers to as “self-forming actions” or SFAs those moments of indecision during which people experience conflicting wills. These SFAs are the undetermined, regress-stopping voluntary actions or refraining in the life histories of agents that are required for UR. UR does not require that every act done of our own free will be undetermined and thus that, for every act or choice, we could have done otherwise; it requires only that certain of our choices and actions be undetermined (and thus that we could have done otherwise), namely SFAs. These form our character or nature; they inform our future choices, reasons and motivations in action. If a person has had the opportunity to make a character-forming decision (SFA), they are responsible for the actions that are a result of their character.

Randolph Clarke objects that Kane’s depiction of free will is not truly libertarian but rather a form of compatibilism.[citation needed] The objection asserts that although the outcome of an SFA is not determined, one’s history up to the event is; so the fact that an SFA will occur is also determined. The outcome of the SFA is based on chance,[citation needed] and from that point on one’s life is determined. This kind of freedom, says Clarke, is no different than the kind of freedom argued for by compatibilists, who assert that even though our actions are determined, they are free because they are in accordance with our own wills, much like the outcome of an SFA.[citation needed]

Kane responds that the difference between causal indeterminism and compatibilism is “ultimate control the originative control exercised by agents when it is ‘up to them’ which of a set of possible choices or actions will now occur, and up to no one and nothing else over which the agents themselves do not also have control”.[17] UR assures that the sufficient conditions for one’s actions do not lie before one’s own birth.

Galen Strawson holds that there is a fundamental sense in which free will is impossible, whether determinism is true or not. He argues for this position with what he calls his “basic argument”, which aims to show that no-one is ever ultimately morally responsible for their actions, and hence that no one has free will in the sense that usually concerns us.

In his book defending compatibilism, Freedom Evolves, Daniel Dennett spends a chapter criticising Kane’s theory.[7] Kane believes freedom is based on certain rare and exceptional events, which he calls self-forming actions or SFA’s. Dennett notes that there is no guarantee such an event will occur in an individual’s life. If it does not, the individual does not in fact have free will at all, according to Kane. Yet they will seem the same as anyone else. Dennett finds an essentially indetectable notion of free will to be incredible.

Frankfurt counterexamples[18] (also known as Frankfurt cases or Frankfurt-style cases) were presented by philosopher Harry Frankfurt in 1969 as counterexamples to the “principle of alternative possibilities” or PAP, which holds that an agent is morally responsible for an action only if they have the option of free will (i.e. they could have done otherwise).

The principle of alternate possibilities forms part of an influential argument for the incompatibility of responsibility and causal determinism, as detailed below:

Traditionally, compatibilists (defenders of the compatibility of moral responsibility and determinism, like Alfred Ayer and Walter Terence Stace) try to reject premise two, arguing that, properly understood, free will is not incompatible with determinism. According to the traditional analysis of free will, an agent is free to do otherwise when they would have done otherwise had they wanted to do otherwise.[19] Agents may possess free will, according to the conditional analysis, even if determinism is true.

From the PAP definition “a person is morally responsible for what they have done only if they could have done otherwise”,[20] Frankfurt infers that a person is not morally responsible for what they have done if they could not have done otherwise a point with which he takes issue: our theoretical ability to do otherwise, he says, does not necessarily make it possible for us to do otherwise.

Frankfurt’s examples are significant because they suggest an alternative way to defend compatibilism, in particular by rejecting the first premise of the argument. According to this view, responsibility is compatible with determinism because responsibility does not require the freedom to do otherwise.

Frankfurt’s examples involve agents who are intuitively responsible for their behavior even though they lack the freedom to act otherwise. Here is a typical case:

Donald is a Democrat and is likely to vote for the Democrats; in fact, only in one particular circumstance will he not: that is, if he thinks about the prospects of immediate American defeat in Iraq just prior to voting. Ms. White, a representative of the Democratic Party, wants to ensure that Donald votes Democratic, so she secretly plants a device in Donald’s head that, if activated, will force him to vote Democratic. Not wishing to reveal her presence unnecessarily, Ms White plans to activate the device only if Donald thinks about the Iraq War prior to voting. As things happen, Donald does not think about the Democrats’ promise to ensure defeat in Iraq prior to voting, so Ms White thus sees no reason to activate the device, and Donald votes Democratic of his own accord. Apparently, Donald is responsible for voting Democratic in spite of the fact that, owing to Ms. White’s device, he lacks freedom to do otherwise.

If Frankfurt is correct in suggesting both that Donald is morally responsible for voting Democratic and that he is not free to do otherwise, moral responsibility, in general, does not require that an agent have the freedom to do otherwise (that is, the principle of alternate possibilities is false). Thus, even if causal determinism is true, and even if determinism removes the freedom to do otherwise, there is no reason to doubt that people can still be morally responsible for their behavior.

Having rebutted the principle of alternate possibilities, Frankfurt suggests that it be revised to take into account the fallacy of the notion that coercion precludes an agent from moral responsibility. It must be only because of coercion that the agent acts as they do. The best definition, by his reckoning, is this: “[A] person is not morally responsible for what they have done if they did it only because they could not have done otherwise.”[21]

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