Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Martyrdom of Man

This is what I have in the way of hopes and dreams of the future.

I already have most of the things that really matter - a good home, a lovoing family, good friends, a stable political and economic environment, pleasant prospects, and a healthy body.

The only thing that is lacking is the luxury of time. I want to be able to study on my own time and in my own fashion. I want to be able to write and comment on writing. I want to be able to tinker with computers and go for long, solitary walks in the countryside.

None of these things require a great deal of money, but they do require a great deal of time. And time is money. I want to leave university at age 24; I want to get a job in a blue chip company for 3 years. Then I want to set up my own company. I’ll work hard for maybe 20 years then retire with a big pile of assets.

Then I want to dedicate my life to transhumanism, nuclear disarmament, improving the human condition (either by directly working in or funding nanotech research, gerontology, space habitat construction, biotech research…),until the human race reaches the level of sophistication that Winwood Reade describes in his book, The Martyrdom of Man:

“Population will mightily increase, and the earth will be a garden. Governments will be conducted with the quietude and regularity of club committees. The interest which is now felt in politics will be transferred to science; the latest news from the laboratory of the chemist, or the observatory of the astronomer, or the experimenting room of the biologist will be eagerly discussed. Poetry and the fine arts will take that place in the heart which religion now holds. Luxuries will be cheapened and made common to all; none will be rich, and none poor. Not only will Man subdue the forces of evil that are without; he will also subdue those that are within. He will repress the base instincts and propensities which he has inherited from the animals below; he will obey the laws that are written on his heart; he will worship the divinity within him. As our conscience forbids us to commit actions which the conscience of the savage allows, so the moral sense of our successors will stigmatise as crimes those offences against the intellect which are sanctioned by ourselves. Idleness and stupidity will be regarded with abhorrence. Women will become the companions of men, and the tutors of their children. The whole world will be united by the same sentiment which united the primeval clan, and which made its members think, feel, and act as one. Men will look upon this star as their fatherland; its progress will be their ambition; the gratitude of others their reward. These bodies which now we wear belong to the lower animals; our minds have already outgrown them; already we look upon them with contempt. A time will come when Science will transform them by means which we cannot conjecture, and which, even if explained to us, we could not now understand, just as the savage cannot understand electricity, magnetism, steam. Disease will be extirpated; the causes of decay will be removed; immortality will be invented. And then, the earth being small, mankind will migrate into space, and will cross the airless Saharas which separate planet from planet, and sun from sun. The earth will become a Holy Land which will be visited by pilgrims from all the quarters of the universe. Finally, men will master the forces of Nature; they will become themselves architects of systems, manufacturers of worlds.”

The Martyrdom of Man was written in 1872, and is prophetic of the sentiment shared by the transhumanists and with myself. This is the world we must all strive to create.

I am not particularly attractive or charismatic, I am not a genius nor particularly clever. I believe it is necessary to solve these problems – through whatever means come available. If the ultimate goal of every intelligent person was to become more intelligent, urbane, talented, wise, compassionate and responsible then the world would be a better place.

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