Human Nature




Conservative        -          Progressive
Fixed                    -          Fluid
Limited                -           Limitless
Immanent             -          Transcendent




[…] it is impossible to deny that there is a doctrine behind the whole of our political position. It is not necessarily the doctrine of the religious authority which I myself receive; but it cannot be denied that it must in a sense be religious.

That is to say, it must at least have some reference to an ultimate view of the universe and especially of the nature of man. 

Those who are thus ready to see property atrophied would ultimately be ready to see arms and legs amputated. They really believe that these could become extinct organs like the appendix. In other words, there is indeed a fundamental difference between my own view and that vision of man as a merely intermediate and changing thing - a Link, if not a Missing Link. The creature, it is claimed, once went on four legs and now goes on two legs. 

The obvious inference would be that the next stage of evolution will be for a man to stand on one leg. And this will be of very great value to the capitalist or bureaucratic powers that are now to take charge of him. It will mean, for one thing, that only half the number of boots need be supplied to the working classes. It will mean that all wages will be of a one-legged sort. 

But I would testify at the end, as at the beginning, that I believe in Man standing on two legs and requiring two boots, and that I desire them to be his own boots. You may call it conservative to want this. You may call it revolutionary to attempt to get it. But if that is conservative, I am conservative; if that is revolutionary, I am revolutionary - but too democratic to be evolutionary, anyhow.

[G. K. Chesterton]
The Outline of Sanity, p. 180




Let us regard all ideas of what we ought to do simply as an interesting psychological survival: let us step right out of all that and start doing what we like. 

Let us decide for ourselves what man is to be and make him into that: not on any ground of imagined value, but because we want him to be such. Having mastered our environment, let us now master ourselves and choose our own destiny.

This is a very possible position: and those who hold it cannot be accused of self-contradiction like the half-hearted sceptics who still hope to find 'real' values when they have debunked the traditional ones. 

This is the rejection of the concept of value altogether. 

Either we are rational spirit obliged for ever to obey the absolute values of the Tao, or else we are mere nature to be kneaded and cut into new shapes for the pleasures of masters who must, by hypothesis, have no motive but their own 'natural' impulses. 

Only the Tao provides a common human law of action which can over-arch rulers and ruled alike. A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.

Traditional values are to be 'debunked' and mankind to be cut out into some fresh shape at the will (which must, by hypothesis, be an arbitrary will) of some few lucky people in one lucky generation which has learned how to do it. The belief that we can invent ‘ideologies' at pleasure, and the consequent treatment of mankind as mere matter, specimens, preparations, begins to affect our very language. 

[C.S. Lewis]
‘The Abolition of Man’, Selected Books, p.418, 426




Extropianism, also referred to as the philosophy of Extropy, is an evolving framework of values and standards for continuously improving the human condition. 

Extropians believe that advances in science and technology will some day let people live indefinitely.

Originated by a set of principles developed by Dr. Max More, The Principles of Extropy, extropian thinking places strong emphasis on rational thinking and practical optimism. According to More, these principles "do not specify particular beliefs, technologies, or policies". Extropians share an optimistic view of the future, expecting considerable advances in computational power, life extension, nanotechnology and the like. Many extropians foresee the eventual realization of indefinite lifespans, and the recovery, thanks to future advances in biomedical technology or mind uploading, of those whose bodies/brains have been preserved by means of cryonics.

'Extropianism'
Wikipedia
 


Transhumanism is an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.

Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging and hypothetical technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations, as well as study the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. They predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman."

'Outline of Transhumanism'
Wikipedia




The anti-aging movement is a social movement devoted to eliminating or reversing aging, or reducing the effects of it. A substantial portion of the attention of the movement is on the possibilities for life extension, but there is also interest in techniques such as cosmetic surgery which ameliorate the effects of aging rather than delay or defeat it.

Two popular proponents of the anti-aging movement include Ray Kurzweil, who thinks humanity can defeat aging through the advance of technology, and Aubrey De Grey, who thinks the human body is a very complicated machine and thus, can be repaired indefinitely. Other scientists and significant contributors to the movement include molecular biologists, geneticists, and biomedical gerontologists such as Gary Ruvkun, Cynthia Kenyon, and Arthur D. Levinson.

'Anti-aging movement'
Wikipedia




According to transhumanist thinkers, a posthuman is a hypothetical future being "whose basic capacities so radically exceed those of present humans as to be no longer unambiguously human by our current standards."

Posthumans could be completely synthetic artificial intelligences, or a symbiosis of human and artificial intelligence, or uploaded consciousnesses, or the result of making many smaller but cumulatively profound technological augmentations to a biological human, i.e. a cyborg. 

Key to this posthuman practice is the ability to fluidly change perspectives and manifest oneself through different identities.

'Posthuman'
Wikipedia




The stances of left and right, while seemingly opposed in the day-to-day struggles of conventional politics in liberal polities, share deep underlying premises.

Both are ultimately derived from a dualistic view of the relationship between man and nature, one that sees man not as an indwelling steward of nature, but as an instrumental master of it. Man stands outside of nature and controls it; it is only a question where and how he wills to intervene into nature, in order to distort and transform it.

Left and right disagree about where and how these instrumental interventions should occur, but both assume that it is man’s unfettered right to decide on such questions.

The Party of Nature, in contrast to both left and right, believes that plants, animals, the human body, the landscape, even the climate all have a real and objective inner integrity, unchosen by man, that man is obligated to respect, tend, and if necessary repair.

[Adrian Vermeule]
'The Party of Nature'




Premodern political thought - particularly that informed by an Aristotelian understanding of natural science - understood the human creature as part of a comprehensive natural order.

Humans were understood to have a telos, a fixed end, given by nature and unalterable.

Human nature was continuous with the order of the natural world, and thus humanity was required to conform both to its own nature and, in a broader sense, to the natural order of which it was a part. Human beings could freely act against their own nature and the natural order, but such actions deformed them and harmed the good of human beings and the world.

Liberal philosophy rejected this requirement of human self-limitation. It displaced first the idea of a natural order to which humanity is subject and later the notion of human nature itself.

Liberalism inaugurated a transformation in the natural and human sciences and humanity's relationship to the natural world. The first wave of this revolution - inaugurated by early-modern thinkers dating back to the Renaissance - insisted that man should employ natural science and a transformed economic system to seek mastery of nature. The second wave - developed largely by various historicist schools of thought, especially in the nineteenth century - replaced belief in the idea of a fixed human nature with belief in human “plasticity" and capacity for moral progress.

These two iterations of liberalism - often labeled “conservative” and “progressive"

[Patrick J. Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.35



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