Re[4]: continuity of self [ was META: Sept. 11 and Singularity]

From: Cliff Stabbert (
Date: Sun Sep 15 2002 - 20:46:37 MDT

Sunday, September 15, 2002, 9:53:58 PM, mike99 wrote:

Let me (re)emphasize that I know very little about these issues; I was
throwing out what I had picked up (by osmosis, more or less) on the
assumption that you had heard even less than I :) So I'll defer to
your knowledge of these issues, but reserve my suspicions about the
issue in general until I've read more extensively.

Nonetheless, a few points I'd like to respond to.


m> In terms of material abundance (if not "paradisiacality") Eskimo
m> society is clearly not included. Life in the arctic is and always
m> has been extremely harsh.

I was addressing the supposed absence of scarcity thinking,
competitive behaviour, etc. rather than material abundance itself.


m> I have not been able to find enough information about Balinese
m> history amidst all the vacation web page "happy talk" (if you'll
m> excuse a reference to the old musical "South Pacific") but I
m> suspect that neither during its prehistoric period, nor during its
m> time under Hindu influence, and certainly not under the Dutch
m> conquest, did Bali exist in a paradisiacal condition. But that's
m> just my guess.

My (very limited) information on this comes from Gregory Bateson's
_Bali: The Value System of a Steady State_.


m> Finally, my Baloney Detector goes into the red zone when DeMeo's
m> cited sources of authority include M. Gimbutas, W. Reich and I.
m> Velikovsky. None of these pseudo-scholars has a shred of scientific
m> credibility.

I know precious little about I. Velikovsky and even less about M.
Gimbutas, of whom I've never heard. But to suggest that Wilhelm Reich
has not a shred of scientific credibility is IMO unwarranted. He
certainly had some extreme/fringe theories, especially later in life,
but that should not IMO invalidate his other work (on e.g. sexuality).
(I suppose I should throw out another disclaimer, though: I haven't
studied psychology, and have not read Reich in depth.) E.g., to me, the
idea that social repression and aggression is strongly linked to
sexual repression is pretty plausible -- a connection I think many
people intuit. (This may be the reason I support some unusual
policies in regards to presidential interns... ;)

m> This brief historical tour serves to underline my point that we are
m> unlikely to significantly change human behavior en mass until we
m> can transform humanity en mass, which means transhuman
m> transcendence mediated by our technology which, I believe, will
m> depend crucially on Friendly AI.

Well, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree; that is, if you believe
"scarcity based" / "zero sum" / "selfish" thinking is so deeply
ingrained in "human nature" that technology is the only way to
overcome it. I have seen it being transcended in individual cases and
in small circles of people; and I suspect it can even happen to some
degree in certain subcultures (early hippie movement, rave culture).
And I am not at all (yet) convinced it hasn't been transcended (or
absent to begin with) in other or past cultures.

You may turn out to be right, but then again this may be an issue
where self-fulfilling-prophecy / placebo effects are significant.


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