In the past I have written about a vision for human civilizational flourishing, and would like to follow up those thoughts briefly now. More to the point, I wish to offer a deeper or foundational basis for those previous ideas. One might consider this to be a simple philosophical basis for action in the 21st Century. These thoughts are also directly relevant to my most recent post, about The Singularity & Convergent Risk.
The simplest, most pure basis for any philosophy – especially one that would be in harmony with empirical science – is to assume nothing. Start at the beginning, examine all assumptions.
Cogito Ergo Sum: Existence & Survival
Starting from a position of pure skepticism, our next step is the one long ago developed by Descartes; To conclude that Cogito, Ergo Sum. Or, in other words, that the only thing we can be sure of is our own awareness. That we exist. It is from this knowledge that we can infer that survival is important. Survival, after all, is continuation of the only thing we can be truly sure of.
From Preservation to Extension
Survival includes not just the survival of people, but of knowledge, of the work of civilization. We who value civilization must work to preserve knowledge, and from there work to extend and develop that knowledge. Each generation owes that work to the next. In other words, we owe it to ourselves and future generations to increase our sphere of influence, so that civilization can best survive and thrive.
To Transhumanists, this idea is familiar as the ‘CMT’ or ‘Central Meme of Transhumanism’: That We Can And Should Improve The Human Condition Through Technology. Furthermore, the idea is writ large, applied beyond the individual to our communities, societies, and civilization as a whole.
Taken together, the three points above constitute The Imperative. The Imperative is, quite simply, the idea that given the fact of our existence, we must work to preserve and extend that existence, both for ourselves and for future generations.
I continue to be involved in various groups and organizations, but have learned in recent years that organised work does not arise well from discussion groups, where people have a tendency to sit back and observe rather than pitching in to do their part. My answer to that is to focus on a small group of highly committed people to drive projects forward. A “Circle”. If each committed person has their own focus and Circle, working to meet their commitment to that small group, then community will naturally emerge from the various overlapping Circles.
I would encourage you to think about your own Circle. It probably exists already, even if you haven’t thought about it in those terms. If you don’t have a Circle, then I would suggest that you ask yourself why.