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Quoting our Future: The Past and Present Speak

Posted: Wed, April 24, 2013 | By: B. J. Murphy

Famous 17th century English physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This remains true, even among those of us advocating for Transhumanism, Immortalism, etc. But then, who are these giants of Transhumanism, Immortalism, post-humanism? Who do we look up to or relay similar messages when looking to and predicting the future?

I, myself, have cataloged many quotes by various different fields of people, both past and present, which truly inspired and shaped me into who I am today and how I think of the world and its future. Which brings us to the reason of this “article”: extending our catalog of quotes by those we consider our “giants” whose shoulders we’ve leaped from.

I’d like for everyone else to participate as well, for I’m sure I will miss several historical and present-day figures as I present my own list:


Max More
Max More

“People’s freedom to innovate technologically is highly valuable, even critical, to humanity. This implies a range of responsibilities for those considering whether and how to develop, deploy, or restrict new technologies. Assess risks and opportunities using an objective, open, and comprehensive, yet simple decision process based on science rather than collective emotional reactions. Account for the costs of restrictions and lost opportunities as fully as direct effects. Favor measures that are proportionate to the probability and magnitude of impacts, and that have the highest payoff relative to their costs. Give a high priority to people’s freedom to learn, innovate, and advance.” — Max More, The Proactionary Principle

“We should make joint efforts to develop science and technology. Without science the hopes of mankind will not be fulfilled. Without science the people of the Third World countries cannot cast off poverty. Without science world peace cannot be maintained.” — Deng Xiaoping, “China Cannot Advance Without Science”

“We are going from evolution by natural selection to evolution by intelligent direction. Humans themselves are becoming an information technology.” — Peter H. Diamandis

“Some believe what separates men from animals is our ability to reason. Others say it’s language or romantic love, or opposable thumbs. Living here in this lost world, I’ve come to believe it is more than our biology. What truly makes us human is our unending search, our abiding desire for immortality.” — Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World

“When the theologians talk about doomsday, they are pessimistic and terrify people. We say the end of mankind is something which will produce something more advanced than mankind. Mankind is still in its infancy.” — Mao Zedong, “Talk On Questions Of Philosophy”

“We ask [of the computer] not just about where we stand in nature, but about where we stand in the world of artefact. We search for a link between who we are and what we have made, between who we are and what we might create, between who we are and what, through our intimacy with our own creations, we might become.” — Sherry Turkle, The Second Self

Daniel C. Dennett
Daniel C. Dennett

“The more we learn about what we are, the more options we will discern about what to try to become. Americans have long honored the “self-made man,” but now that we are actually learning enough to be able to remake ourselves into something new, many flinch. Many would apparently rather bumble around with their eyes closed, trusting in tradition, than look around to see what’s about to happen. Yes, it is unnerving; yes, it can be scary. After all, there are entirely new mistakes we are now empowered to make for the first time. But it’s the beginning of a great new adventure for our knowing species. And it’s much more exciting, as well as safer, if we open our eyes.” — Daniel C. Dennett, Freedom Evolves

“In the end, we are self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages that are little miracles of self-reference.” — Douglas Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop

“You do not need God and Death as precursors to immortality. You need Life as a great fire, setting you and everything around you into a blaze.” — Clare Morgan, A Book for All and None

“We must not listen to those who advise us ‘being men to think human thoughts, and being mortal to think mortal thoughts’ but must put on immortality as much as possible and strain every nerve to live according to that best part of us, which, being small in bulk, yet much more in its power and honour surpasses all else.” — Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

“I’ve heard it said that technology makes a good person better, and it makes a bad person worse. That’s okay with me. I say we keep building new versions of ourselves, keep exploring the unknown, and keep growing.” — Daniel H. Wilson, Amped

“Man, for actively evolutionary thinkers, is a being in transition, in the process of growing, far from complete, but also consciously creative, called upon to overcome not only the outer world but also his own inner nature.” — Svetlana Semenova, Russkii kosmizm: Antologiia filosofskoi mysli

“Creatures on earth are the fruit of extended, complex processes, and are an essential part of a harmonious cosmic mechanism, in which it is known that fixed laws apply and chance does not exist.” — Vladimir Vernadsky, The Biosphere

“All around us we have the spectacle of overflowing millions no longer praying but grasping for salvation, behind all facades of sophistication and toughness, each in his own style, every man for himself. Salvation by whatever means – and quickly. It has become the central passion that drives us, a need rapidly turning into an imperious demand to be rescued from nothingness.” — Alan Harrington, The Immortalist

“Don’t blindly believe what I say. Don’t believe me because others convince you of my words. Don’t believe anything you see, read, or hear from others, whether of authority, religious teachers or texts. Don’t rely on logic alone, nor speculation. Don’t infer or be deceived by appearances. — The Buddha

“Do not give up your authority and follow blindly the will of others. This way will lead to only delusion. — The Buddha

“Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real. Discover that there are virtuous things and there are non-virtuous things. Once you have discovered for yourself give up the bad and embrace the good.” — The Buddha

“O assembly of Jinns and Men, if you can penetrate regions of the heavens and the earth, then penetrate them!” — Qur’an, “Surat Ar-Raĥmān”, 55:33.

“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” — Bible, 1 Corinthians 15:26

“Does God exist? Well, not yet.” — Ray Kurzweil


” ‘When the theologians talk about doomsday, they are pessimistic and terrify people. We say the end of mankind is something which will produce something more advanced than mankind. Mankind is still in its infancy. — Mao Zedong,
‘Talk On Questions Of Philosophy’ ”

You could quote positive truisms from Stalin and Hitler as well. Pol Pot must have made certain optimistic pronouncements during his life.

By Alan Brooks on Apr 26, 2013 at 2:49am

and Jeffrey Dahmer may have thought artificial meat was a positive…

By Alan Brooks on Apr 26, 2013 at 2:54am

Mao Zedong is a very highly respected historical figure in China though. Whenever we find ourselves conversing with fellow Chinese Transhumanists, or those curious with the idea, to be able to quote a figure that is highly looked up to which speaks similarly of what we’re fighting for, we then have the upper hand in convincing them that it’s an ideal worth fighting for.

By B.J. Murphy on Apr 26, 2013 at 9:11am

For form’s sake, Deng Xiao Peng would be better to quote than Mao.

By Alan Brooks on Apr 29, 2013 at 5:40pm

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