Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Thursday, September 06, 2012

No, YOU'RE the Religionist!

Upgraded and adapted from the Moot, a rather demoralizing exchange with a Robot Cultist, or someone possibly just "Robo-Adjacent" ("Anonymous," of course), who fancies himself an intellectual:
People like you are so amusing, because while you are very good at deconstructing other people’s quasi-religious narratives, you fail to see the religious nature of your own ideology. In what universe is “equitable social support to the diversity of our planetary peers” mandated by evolutionary biology or the laws of physics? Don’t you see that thoughtforms like “tolerance”, “diversity”, “democracy”, “equality”, etc. are purely constructs of your imagination, and when you ascribe magical powers to them you are doing *precisely* the same thing that other priests do with their scripture? Is this world not a brutal, amoral, endless struggle for power, which rewards aggression, creativity and intelligence above all? I have never seen you write a single line which acknowledges this reality, which suggests to me that you are as delusional and religious as any Christian. Techno-transcendentalism may be quasi-religious, but at least it acknowledges that there is no inherent moral order to the world, and that technology and power trumps morality. I’m still awaiting your deconstruction of your own quasi-Christian moralism, or your derivation of your ideology from first principles in a godless, amoral universe.
I am far from thinking that equitable social support to the diversity of our planetary peers is "mandated by evolutionary biology or the laws of physics." I do not advocate faith of all things, but social struggle for democratization, equity-in-diversity, and sustainability. I think that is the right thing to do if we want to live in a world that embraces the real worth of the diversity of our peers and has a chance at solving the shared problems that beset us. That doesn't make my view "quasi-religious" it just makes me not an asshole.

The differences between tolerance and intolerance, diversity and conformity, equity and inequity are far from insubstantial "thoughtforms" -- although of course they connect to various ideologies -- they are living material practical realities in the world, with real consequences in actual lives. If you really consign them as you say to "magic" or cant -- rather than this just being some anonymous coward's bullshit bloviation in a blog's comments -- then you should probably be consigned to an asylum before you end up consigned to a prison cell.

Christianity is far from the only tradition to contribute a measure to secular equitable convivial multiculture -- and there are strains in that tradition that have contributed as well to contrary efforts, that's for sure -- but that is a very long and complex story for more serious, more good faith interlocutors than you are (or at least for students who pay for the privilege of learning it). Still, I suppose it is nice to find yet another among so many confirmations of the structural connection between the Robot Cult and the ugliest kind of reactionary politics and sociopathic personalities.


Dale Carrico said...

There was another round:

Anonymous said...

So your justification for you ideology is essentially a tautology then? Did you not just defend your values by appealing to them? Are you asking me to accept them on faith, and is this not what all religions do?

And please stop with the magic words like “reactionary” and “sociopathic” -- these are just incantations by which you seek to discredit and gain power over those you disagree with. Don’t waste your time, your magic won’t work on me!

Are you really threatening me with an asylum or a prison cell for disagreeing with you? That’s fine, but surely then you have no right to claim moral superiority over Hitler, Stalin or any other Sith Lord. I’m just trying to force you to confront the arbitrariness of your ideology, to make you aware of your blind spots, assumptions, your Shadow and dark side. I think you should thank me for performing this service for you free of charge, and with only a little mental violence!

Dale Carrico said...

Wow, you stumbled on the is-ought dichotomy, welcome to Philosophy 101! I defend my values by literally defending them -- by saying what I value and why I do in the hearing of the diversity of my peers. "Reactionary" and "sociopathic" are not magic words -- they describe real attitudes with real consequences in the real world.

And don't piss your diaper because I point out that saying crazy things if you mean them leads to the asylum and acting on sociopathic impulses leads to prison, this is no more threatening you than pointing out that leaping off cliffs in a world with gravity leads to getting squashed. It is all too typical, though, that Mr. Anti-Christian soft-porn Nietzsche would play the martyr, Mr. Anti-Social soft-belly predator god would whine about my intolerance of his intolerance. Next you'll be crying into your pillow because I delete your racist pud from the comments of my own blog unread -- waaaaaaah, the injustice!

I DO indeed claim moral superiority over Hitler and Stalin: I literally claim that, which is just to say that I actually value what I do for the reasons that I do and which I am willing to state and willing to stand by, and those values happen to be very different from those of Hitler and Stalin.

I don't think the universe has any preferences at all in the question of the words humans use to describe it or the values humans affirm or the outcomes that seek to attain by the means at their disposal. I'm an atheist, exactly like I always say I am, right up front, I don't need to pretend my values are endorsed by Baby Jesus or evolutionary optimality, I am fully responsible for the beliefs I hold and quite content to offer them up as such to the hearing of my peers, something I do under my own name every day here and elsewhere and in my teaching.

Can you say the same, pseudonymous/ anonymous coward, with your marginal defensive racist views, with your ill-digested undergraduate coffee house philosophy? Yeah, that's what I thought.

jimf said...

> Techno-transcendentalism may be quasi-religious, but
> at least it acknowledges that there is no inherent moral
> order to the world, and that technology and power trumps
> morality.

What, "Anonymous" and not "Darth Imperious"?

Well, as if we needed it -- yet a further illustration of
the kind of folks to are all-too-likely to be attracted to this
>Hist fantasizing. None other than "Mike Darwin", at
his new blog Chronosphere, has acknowledged that
cryonics "exquisitely filters" for sociopathic personality
types; and as long ago as 1997 the same person was saying
on one of the cryonics mailing lists that cryonics tends
to attract people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
I should say that these characteristics extend beyond the strict
set of those people attracted to cryonics to embrace
the entire >Hist movement (of course, cryonics is **mostly**
entirely subsumed by the >Hists -- i.e., the imminent
Superintelligent AI, imminent nanotechnological assembler
"goo" enthusiasts -- these days, much to the irritation of
some of the old-guard cryonicists, including Darwin himself).

Of course one very insistent >Hist has, for a decade
now, claimed to be working on a system (logical? mathematical?
God-knows-what.) to **guarantee** (!) the Friendliness(TM)
of an ultraintelligent computer -- Friendliness by **his** definition,
dammit, and you'll like it or else!

Wouldn't that make a great comic book, the Warring Factions of
>Hists fighting it out in the service of their respective
Light-side and Dark-side AIs? Well, probably not -- at least,
the formulaic **plot** wouldn't be the reason to buy it,
though maybe the details of the writing or the artwork would.
(I'm afraid I haven't been a comic, or "graphic novel", fan
since I was 12.)

On the other hand, it might make an entertaining Dexter vs.
Mandark episode of _Dexter's Laboratory_. ;->

jimf said...

> I’m still awaiting your deconstruction of your own
> quasi-Christian moralism, or your derivation of your
> ideology from first principles in a godless, amoral universe.

"And **vat** are **your** principles," La Rand demands to know,
brandishing her cigarette holder imperiously.

Dale Carrico said...

As someone who has actually taught Rand to undergraduates at Berkeley, I have to say I have always found that few who actually follow her injunction to "check your premises" remain the least bit sympathetic to Randroidal nonsense for long.

Of course, anybody who is curious enough about my premises to castigate my lack of them in any one argumentative piece is welcome to go to the archived pieces at the sidebar and observe the tedious, pedantic, tl;dr delineation of assumptions, aspirations, principles, qualifications, arguments articulating my views on pragmatism, pluralism, rhetoric, nonviolence, democracy, technodevelopment, sustainability, feminism and queerness, science, and so much more.

I've been running my mouth on this damn blog for a long time now, I don't think there is a whole lot of mystery about what I believe and why I do.

jollyspaniard said...

Hmm I wasn't aware that evolution or physics mandated anything but perhaps I don't understand it properly.

Dale Carrico said...

For those who are curious how on earth it might happen that a relentless critic of La Rand might come to teach her, it was in a course called "Altars and Alters to the Marketplace: Rhetoric in a Neoliberal/ Neoconservative Epoch, the syllabus of which is here. It amounted to just the socialist feminist atheistical eco-tyrannical queer indoctrination you would expect of the likes of me, never fear.