I normally don’t vote in presidential elections because the choices are between flavors of progressivism—D-type, R-type, etc.—and I desire none. But scrappy “transhumanist” Zoltan Istvan has changed my mind. He has my support.
Istvan is taking on the Clinton-Bush juggernaut and offering an alternative to standard issue progressivism. Complete, total, ran-to-its-logical-conclusion progressivism. Intelligence as salvation.
Our candidate promises to “overcome human death and aging within 15-20 years”! How? By creating a “cultural mindset in America that embracing and producing radical technology and science is in the best interest of our nation and species.” You can’t get more progressive that that.
These goals, Istvan says, “are so simple and obvious, you’d think every politician in the 21st Century would be publicly and passionately pursuing them.” They don’t because they don’t understand transhumanism. What’s that? A “movement [that] goes back decades, to a time when philosophers, futurists, and scientists began understanding how fast technology could solve all the world’s problems.”
All the world’s problems!
Telescopes pick up an object the size of the moon barreling our direction. With zero uncertainty it is proved the object will slam into the earth in 13.4 months, pulverizing the object and turning our planet into molten goo. How would we react?
We’d gather the smartest guys in the world in one room—Zoltan would be there—and give them anything they want. Money, booze, computers, sharp pencils, plenty of paper, companionship—whatever they desired and in whatever quantity they deemed sufficient. And what would happen?
Our planet would turn to goo in 13.4 months.
Intelligence is overrated. Yet almost every person now alive believes the opposite. Just as every person believes the opposite of these true propositions: There are some “problems” which cannot be solved, “problems” that we are under no obligation to solve, “problems” so intractable that even attempting to solve them is foolhardy and harmful.
I can peer into the minds of some readers—those who have read a lot science fiction, for instance—who are now feverishly imagining “scenarios” where the object is diverted from its murderous path. That these readers do so proves my point. And if you can see why their actions prove my point, then you will have truly grasped why intelligence is overrated. I’ll leave it as a reader exercise to solve this “puzzle”.
As a hint, the same answer is found in these words from John Maynard Keynes on the behavior of arch-intellectual Bertrand Russell (words we’ve seen before):
Bertie in particular sustained simultaneously a pair of opinions ludicrously incompatible. He held that in fact human affairs were carried on after a most irrational fashion, but that the remedy was quite simple and easy, since all we had to do was to carry them on rationally.
As the late lamented philosopher David Stove commented, “Just two effortless sentences, and yet how fatal they are to any belief in Russell’s political wisdom, or even sense! They are like a bayonet thrust through the heart and out the back.”
Two of the greatest minds who have ever lived were not keen on the saving powers of rationality. After a lifetime of thinking the deepest thoughts man can think, one was forced to conclude he “knew nothing”, while the other, a man who wrote the subtlest and profoundest philosophy, pronounced his life’s work “nothing but straw.”
These recommendations are sufficient, one would think, to sober us up. They obviously are not. And they are not because intelligence in the form of rationality is the weakest form of knowledge we have, yet we insist on judging all things rationally! It is weakest compared to what Aristotle called the nous, the act of intellection which infallibly connects us to those most fundamental, consequential truths which we know are true but cannot rationally prove, truths which we must believe before any rational argument can ever start.
Saying you can solve all problems with rationality is thus like thinking you can leap over Mount Everest if you desire it strongly enough. Human perfection is only one transhumanist gene manipulation away!
There is no killing Russell’s and Istvan’s corrosive idea, which advances inexorably, zombie-like throughout our culture. Modern men march under the Rationality banner and find it inconceivable that they should not do so. So why am I voting for the man?
Because his extreme form of progressivism has the better chance of burning itself out quickly and leaving some traditional culture intact, whereas the alternative is like a black hole that will eventually suck in and crush everything.
Vote for Zoltan!
Oh. There is one way of averting that collision. Divine intervention. But don’t count on that. In these days of marrying and giving in “marriage”, it’s not likely, and it surely isn’t rational, to count on God’s support.