Giulio Prisco has called me out again on his blog, and has accused me (not for the first time, probably not for the thousandth time) of name-calling without any substance and then accuses me of being a "bioluddite." I leave the delineation of the self-referential hilarities of this gambit as an exercise for the reader.
On a side note, compare Singularitarian Ben Goertzel's assessment of the post and thread in question, "bizarrely retarded luddite ranting," where again from the vantage of superlativity it seems apt to decry demurral from membership in the Robot Cult as tantamount to luddism, despite pesky little things like, you know, the actual history of the term, the actual meaning of words, and the actual views that tend to be espoused by those who presently take up that term -- I suppose, John Zerzan? Kirkpatrick Sale? -- with which I importantly disagree. I do wonder how many champions of consensus science, boosters of medical r & d funding, accountability, and science education, and advocates of informed, nonduressed consensual prosthetic self-determination, whether it is normativizing or not, throng the ranks of "the bioluddites" after all?
In any case, here is my response to His High Holy Pontifex of the Order of Cosmic Engineers, Robot Cultist Giulio Prisco, of whom I expect Ben Goertzel approves far more than he does the likes of me:
Transhumanism is a discourse, and so it can be analyzed as a discourse; transhumanism is a movement, self-described, with members, self-identified, and so it can be analyzed as a movement. Any criticism at the level of generality of the discourse or the movement you disapprove of you then declare to be defamation of individuals because each individual differs (obviously, however minutely) in her deployment of the discourse and in her affiliation as a member.
But that’s not the way it works. In deploying the discourse, in assuming the membership you open yourself to scrutiny vis-a-vis the general discourse, as a self-identified member of the movement or sub(cult)ure -- just as, presumably, you gain the unique pleasures of that deployment and membership that attract you to it -- just as, in publishing opinions you open yourself to critical scrutiny.
When a discourse with which you are affiliated -- especially a marginal one you assume very conspicuously by choice -- is criticized you should first determine if the shoe fits and then, if it does, wear it or not, but if you find the criticism inapplicable to you the question remains whether or not it is applicable more generally and if it is whether your own disapproval of it creates a special obligation for you resist it as someone who still affirms the affiliation despite the disagreement.
As anybody with the meanest intelligence who reads my critique will discover soon enough, I argue not that all transhumanist-identified individuals (most of whom I don’t know after all, and few of whom I know at all well) are explicitly fulminating Nazis but simply that there is a structural endorsement of parochial visions of optimality that trump consent in “enhancement” discourses like transhumanism, sometimes against the grain of actually expressed convictions (which can mean hypocrisy, incomprehension, skewed priorities, any number of things), and also that the True Believer/Would-be Authority circuit most pronounced in cult formations is also exhibited in marginal and hence defensive transhumanist sub(cult)ure, as a movement defined by affiliation based less on arguments than on shared identification with idealized and marginal technodevelopmental outcomes (and you can whine all you want, the distinctive views and aspirations of transhumanism are indeed flabbergastingly marginal from scientific consensus and mainstream progressivity, and that marginality is a factual question for which the evidences are legion).
I think superlative futurology is ridiculous and dangerous and symptomatic and all that shows in my writing about it and I cheerfully stand by that. I don’t mince words nor do I dissemble my views. I’m not trying to persuade you, Giulio, heaven knows, because it is my honest assessment after literally years and years of sparring with you, that you are unavailable to such persuasion. Instead, not to put too fine a point on it, I’m trying to expose you, and thereby to warn others from being taken in, so as to limit the very real damage I think you do to sensible public technodevelopmental deliberation at the worst possible historical moment.
You needn’t worry, I don’t feel particularly “insulted” by your clumsy misapplication of the term "bioluddite" to me -- I am simply pointing to the obvious stupidity of the assignment, given the things words actually mean, the histories and dispute actually in play around such designations, and given my positions on relevant issues actually easily available to be read by anybody who cares to do.
I eagerly await your scintillating reply. Some variation of I know you are but what am I usually seems to suit you. Go with what you know.