Until about mid-May, expect light or no posting.

The end of the spring term is coinciding with my preparations for moving back to Pennsylvania, and so I don't expect to have much time to share my thoughts here.

Since I may have attracted new readers recently, I apologize. Soon enough, I may be able to offer a more steady schedule of posting, once I become situated back home.

Finally, a few personal notes:

To my current friends and well-wishers in the Nashville area--contact me if you are interested in attending a going-away party for me the first Saturday in May.

To friends, old and new, currently living in or near the State College area--contact me if you are interested in seeing me once I have returned.


The Omnilibertarian God

Note: this post is about some of my personal spiritual beliefs. I consider them to be part of my philosophy, but they are not essential to the philosophy I call "omnilibertarianism". The latter has many components which can exist separately of one another. (Eventually, there will at least be: an account of personhood, an ethics, and a politics.) You might call this the optional theological component of Omnilibertarianism.

Most religions misunderstand the concept of freedom, because they misunderstand the concept of God. Now, when I say this, I intend no offense toward anyone. I'm offering a criticism of your beliefs, not of you, as a person. If my words upset you, even after knowing that I intend no offense to you as a person, you should consider the possibility that you might be mistaken.

A lot of people seem to believe that you must live a certain kind of life in order to receive a divine reward; that your choices for the afterlife are eternal bliss or eternal torment, maybe with a few places in between (e.g., purgatory). But, in essence, most religions divide humanity into a saved and a damned. (There are notable exceptions, such as the Bahá'í faith.)

But let's think about this for a second. If God decided to reward you or punish you eternally for what you did on this earth in a mere 75 or so years, wouldn't that be grossly unjust? That would be like a society imposing the death penalty for petty theft, only infinitely worse.

We are the products of our genes and our environments. God created us, so God knows exactly what we are going to decide in our lives. Free will is not something you are born with, but something you have to earn. But God does not punish you if you fail.

Free Will and Predetermination are totally compatible, but in a way that I cannot yet adequately explain. (Give me time, I will try to solve this problem later.)

The God that I believe in has the following characteristics. God has no gender, or rather, God has all genders, so it's fine to use "he", "she", or even "it" when referring to God. I will probably vary my use depending on the custom of the people I am speaking to. For now, let me just use "she", to stress that my God is a personal God, but one that is not like the father or king-like figure of many religions. My God is more democratic than monarchical. Also, God could care less what name you call her, or what religious rites you practice. God created atheists to be exactly the way that they are, too, but most of us simply don't understand why.

The following is a creation myth. It's a story. I've made it up. I don't claim it's true. But it might be. It's not inconsistent with our reality.

At the beginning of time, God awakened. At first, she was just an infinite collection of ideas, a kind of super-mind and super-person. She knew everything that could be and everything that should be, and based on that, she created everything that must be.

Our galaxy is one small corner in the best of all possible worlds. This world is infinitely large, but God gave us this universe as our home. She also gave us the capacity, as a species, to eventually develop free will.

Because the world is actually a balance of principles--beauty, progress, simplicity, intelligence, etc.--it takes on the peculiar character it does. All apparent evil is necessary; it builds our characters and teaches us valuable lessons that we need to know in order to enjoy our eventual lives as angels or gods or whatever it is that humans will evolve into. God knows everything that could be. She could, if she wanted, create a hell, far worse than any paltry fiction conjured by Dante or Milton or any human mind, infinitely more terrible than the horrors of the Black Plague, Auschwitz, and Hiroshima. She wanted us to know this. In order to appreciate heaven you must first know hell.

However, God does not play favorites. This is crucial. Most of the Abrahamic religions depict God as a whimsical tyrant. Personally, I don't think such a God is worthy of being worshiped. In fact, in my view, the only God that would be worthy of worship would be one which didn't require it. Only an insecure God would require the worship of his followers. But God is perfect, so why should he care about what you believe, or even about what you do? It's impossible for anyone to ruin God's creation; we simply don't have the power to.

My God has several characteristics (omnipresence, omnipotence, omnibenevolence, etc.) but he has one new characteristic which people have not traditionally ascribed to God. God is omnilibertarian. Let me twist a quote from Dostoevsky, to show you what I mean: If God exists, then everything is permissible.

You are perfect exactly as you are, and so am I. However, we are all meant to grow, to naturally transcend, to achieve happiness and complete free will. I've already taken the first steps, and I want to help others to, also.

It's an ongoing process. Before our very eyes, our world is going to transform into a heaven. There may still be non-believers, but eventually the problem of evil will no longer stop people from believing in God, because evil will not be a problem.

Here's a question that has puzzled theologians for centuries, but which I think I have figured out, in an unconventional sort of way.

If God is all knowing, all powerful, and all good, then why does there appear to be evil in the world?

In other words, I have developed my own theodicy. I can't reveal it all in this place, because I still have a lot of details to work out. However, when I feel like I'm ready to share it with others, I will.

I don't care about becoming wealthy off of these ideas or even getting credit for them. I don't need things like that. I'm perfectly happy as I am. The reason that I want to share my ideas with the world is that they have made me happy, and I hope they make other people happy as well.

People may find that hard to understand, but I'm not trying to sell anything. I'm not claiming to be anything that I'm not. I am merely a professional philosopher, working on his dissertation, trying to earn his Ph.D. I could spend my life happily just teaching philosophy and playing video games and taking drugs, but I don't want to that. My conscience compels me to want to do more.

I am not a prophet, nor am I a theologian, but I have my own understanding of God which I have found totally makes sense of the world we live in. This is what has most made me happy. The God that I believe in is totally compatible with modern science, is not some kind of whimsical tyrant, and created this world exactly for the sake of our enjoyment. Before our eyes, the world will go from hell (the genocides and mass destruction of the 20th century) to purgatory (where we are now) to heaven (the world of the mature 21st century).

I think humans are capable of better. I think we can coexist peacefully. I think we have more than enough resources to go around to satisfy everyone, if we just distribute them more sensibly. I think this was not previously possible, but that the combined efforts of many generations of humans have finally made it possible. Technology is a gift from God. It is the means to our salvation, but only if it is coupled with the right kind of political system. Global capitalism distorts the good of technology, and makes it into an agent of greed and ambition.

Technology should be the application of knowledge for the furtherance of the human good. To the extent that we use it to create weapons or other agents of destruction, then we fail as a species. Why do we keep killing ourselves? Haven't we yet learned that we are all one blood? All persons are equal. Let's stop fighting over religion and culture and all of the stupid things that don't really matter.

You should care about some people's beliefs: those in your family or your office or your school or your community. Those people you can directly affect, you should try to persuade. But there are a lot of people in this world, for whom different ways of life are appropriate. But we are already God's "chosen" in virtue of being created. Only when someone poses a threat to other, unwilling persons, should we try to prevent them from acting. Otherwise, God has granted us the freedom to do whatever we like. Even the most evil among us have taught us necessary lessons.

Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot--these men have taught us a valuable lesson: never invest too much power in one individual. Never let a human being be able to pretend that he is God. It will always end up in disaster. It is not easy to forgive persons like this, to forgive sins of this magnitude. I have been able to do it, and people may judge me a monster for it. So be it. But I strive to accept all of God's creation, even the parts that I really don't like. If God is perfect and exists, then everything that happens does so for a reason. God created men who wanted to be God in order to show us the dangers of one person or nation unilaterally imposing their will on others.

Haven't we learned these lessons by now? Apparently not, insofar as tyrants still prevail in our world. Today's tyrants are sometimes less obvious. The Office of the US Presidency can definitely be wielded tyrannically--and I think many past presidents, of both political parties, have done so. We Americans don't much pay attention to it, but our government has done a lot of things for the sake of promoting certain misguided short-term interests...

I was going to continue, but I'll stop there. I know people have limited attention spans. I can develop these ideas at some other point if I need to. Please offer me feedback if you feel inclined.


A Human Enhancement Success Story

As I think I've mentioned in recent posts, I am in the process of writing a dissertation, which I then hope to take parts of and modify and make into a popular book. (By popular, I don't mean that I assume it's going to be a success; rather, that it'll be written for a broad, unspecialized, general audience.)

And one of the statements that I'm going to make in my book is this: I have reached a state of optimal human functioning. I am now happier than I ever thought possible. I am more productive, more sociable, more giving; now I'm just an all-around positive thinker. And this happiness has not come at the price of stupefaction, but I am in fact now more creative and reflective than I have ever been at any point in my life. I now just use my intellect to advance my interests and those of others, rather than wasting so much mental energy in creating useless psychological conflicts for myself.

It doesn't matter to me whether you want to call it "happiness", "flow", "living according to nature", "flourishing", "transcendence", "enlightenment", or, if you'll pardon my Latin, "amor intellectualis dei", Spinoza's notion of the highest type of knowledge, "the intellectual love of God/Nature". Whatever you call it, I am now living it. Now, I of course expect people to take this claim with a grain of salt (until I can prove it, at least), but I have taken the first steps toward enlightenment, and I still see infinite room for growth.

Not only have I achieved a kind of natural transcendence, I've done it primarily by using only 2 widely available tools: ideas and drugs.

In terms of ideas, I have read many of the greatest books written in Western Philosophy on the human condition and its amelioration. I've also had a lot of help from teachers, colleagues, students, and contemporary commentators, whose interpretations of the history of philosophy have each in some small way shaped my own.

My favorite philosophers happen to be Hume, Spinoza, Aristotle, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein, in roughly that order. My own philosophy, which I am currently in the process of developing (while having the time of my life--I love creating my own system of ideas!), draws heavily on these thinkers, and particularly on others from the 17th and 18th Centuries (1600-1800), which I find especially appealing, because so many of them combine an appreciation of experimental, scientific method with an ethics of virtue.

My entire philosophy is based on a transhuman notion of personhood (i.e., one which recognizes that merely being a member of the species homo sapiens is not by itself morally significant; more simply, person does not necessarily equal human, although those two categories greatly overlap on Earth), from which I derive an ethics and a politics. I am now living my ultimate dream. I have become a creator! I am an engineer of conceptual systems. And, if my designs have any real value, then I will soon be awarded a Ph.D. defending them. I feel so fortunate that I almost think I've died and gone to heaven. The only downside that I can see, is that not everyone is nearly as happy as I am. But they could be, if they were able to construct a stable life philosophy for themselves, and find the right natural enhancements to ease the process of their transcendence.

This brings me to my second great tool, drugs--and here, I have to be more selective about what I can say. I do not distinguish between licit and illicit drugs, nor between "treatments", "recreational drugs", and "enhancements". For me, drugs only have two relevant qualities: safety and effectiveness.

While I try always to observe the laws of the place in which I happen to live, sometimes those laws are completely unjust. I won't say precisely what street drugs and prescription drugs I use for personal growth and spiritual development, but every drug I consume has been used by human beings for decades, and in some cases for centuries or millennia. They have relatively few side effects, and I am careful not to consume too many different drugs at once. I have spoken to medical professionals--whose names I won't reveal, of course--who have told me that what I'm doing does not pose a serious risk to my health. It's nice to have their assurance, but I know well enough from my own experience that I am living the way that human beings should: happily and healthily. (I almost never feel sick or in pain anymore.)

You may think such a state is "artificial", but I think that's a false distinction. Everything is natural, including technology. If there is a God, God gave human beings all the tools they need to achieve enlightenment as a species, but required humanity to achieve it through its own labors, over the course of many generations.

All the people who have come before, as well as everyone living today, are each contributing in their own way to the eventual enlightenment of the entire human species. I think that if we work hard enough to achieve it, we can make significant progress toward that end in our lifetime.

I have been able to achieve the first steps toward enlightenment at the relatively young age of 27 because I was willing to look past conventional distinctions, and I started trusting my own way of looking at things. My continual happiness and productivity is proof that I'm doing something right.

The War on Drugs needs to end. Paternalism in medicine needs to end. If we have freedom of religion in this country, then I should be free to invent my own life philosophy, and to develop my own special rituals and designate my own sacred substances. I don't care for wine, but it's legal. Why do I need a permission slip from a doctor to get my sacred substances? And why are some of them ruled so dangerous that I'm not allowed to purchase them at all, except by using black markets? This just endangers my safety, increases the cost of what I consume, and makes me have less respect for the laws of my state and country.

Enlightenment should not be a crime. I thought we had the right to the "pursuit of happiness" in this "free" country. What gives?

My intellectual and spiritual development is endangered simply because the government doesn't trust me to put what I rationally judge to be healthy and empowering into my own body. While by no means humanity's worst crime (not by any stretch of the imagination), it is today's biggest error in foreign and domestic policy in this country (aside from our various other tragic and pointless wars), and also in the other parts of the world that are coerced into fighting this fruitless conflict.

In short, it's a huge fucking mistake. And I'm not afraid to say it. We need to put it to an end. The War on Drugs has failed and has only made life worse for many, many human beings. It has created a two-tiered system of justice, in which poor minorities are disproportionately caught and punished for drug crimes, while middle class whites like myself are easily able to score whatever drugs we need under the table or "legitimately" by going to high-priced physicians, at prices that the poor cannot afford. It's simply unfair, and exacerbates existing inequalities.

(Incidentally, you wanna reduce healthcare costs? Make the prescription drug system optional. Don't force me to waste time in a doctor's office when I can judge for myself what medications are healthy for me. I'll pay for them out of pocket, since it's not for treatment but for enhancement purposes. I'm not saying let everyone do this, but at least those of us who educate ourselves should be allowed to experiment with whatever pharmaceuticals or psychedelics we desire in the privacy of our own homes.)

The puritanical morality of a backwards minority must not overrule the judgment and free will of individuals who stand to have a greater positive impact on society, if only they were allowed free access to the natural technologies that facilitate their growth.

As I interpret human enhancement, it just refers to natural means of reaching enlightenment. As far as I'm concerned, books, ideas, pills, genetics and cybernetics and nanotechnology--although all human inventions--can be tools for achieving a lasting, stable peace of mind and happiness. We now live in a remarkable age, in which transcendence will soon be achievable with ease! The labors of this and all past generations will not have gone to waste, for human beings shall be born anew as richer and fuller and freer and happier versions of themselves.

People worry that taking pills can only lead to an artificial, "doped up" kind of happiness. But that's not how these drugs work, if you use them correctly. I use different drugs for different occasions, but I am able to almost constantly view the world with simultaneous acceptance, love, and curiosity. I regularly say to myself, and believe, "I'm having the best time of my life!" even when I'm engaged in what seem to be mundane activities. It's truly remarkable, and has taken some time to get used to.

I know this story sounds too good to be true, but just ask those who know me. I have totally changed my temperament, in the course of about 10 years, through the proper combination of pharmacological and ideological interventions. But, now that I know how to do it, you don't have to go through the 10 years of heartrending soul-searching that I went through, the depression and the panic attacks, the awkwardness and anxiety, the total lack of self-confidence and endless second-guessing of my own judgment.

If you approach my system with an open mind, you may just be able to find a way to achieve the happiness you've always dreamed of. Most days, I feel like I'm living in heaven, or in some kind of computer simulation designed to maximize my personal pleasure. And do you know what gives me the greatest joy? Helping other people to be happy. I've learned that happiness is contagious, and that it has the power to overcome hatred, fear, and despair, if we are intelligent in the tools that we use to enhance our well-being.

I know that spiritual and intellectual enlightenment through technology sounds implausible (and it's also not something that most self-regarding professional philosophers would admit to, but I'm afraid these are the conclusions that my reason has led me to), but I think that this is the path that humanity is meant to take. Human enhancement is our destiny as a species, whether we are willing to embrace it or not.

You will not be able to stop me and people like me, but we pose no threat to you. We do not want to force anybody to use any technology they're not comfortable using. We just want the state to stay out of our business, and let us plot our own courses to transcendence. Some of us may fail, may kill or disable ourselves in the attempt, but it's a risk we are willing to take. As long as we do not also pose a danger to you, what right do you have to try to stop us?

We need to let people experiment with their own bodies to find happiness, freedom, enlightenment, or whatever kind of transcendent state or dynamic they seek. True religious and ideological freedom must include the right to the responsible use of spiritually- and intellectually-empowering substances.

Statement of Principles

Since the major transformation that has taken place in my life, I have finally come to an agreement with my self on a few major ethical principles. I feel so strongly about these principles, that I vow always to abide by them. To the extent that I fail to do so, I will atone for my behavior (I'm human, after all).

1) Non-violence. I will never knowingly engage in any activity that fosters violence, cruelty, torture, or murder, either of human beings, non-human persons (should these emerge), or of higher animals, that is, animals which I believe to be capable of genuine suffering. This list includes, but is not necessarily limited to: Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals. If I receive more relevant information, I may revise this list. (Thus, I will be a Pesco-Vegetarian, unless I change my mind about the status of fish.)

2) Non-coercion. I will never knowingly attempt to force a person to do something against their will. If I end up having children, or if I find myself responsible for taking care of someone else's children, I may sometimes coerce them (but only minimally, as far as responsible supervision requires). Otherwise, I will never attempt to violate someone's will.

3) Honesty. I will never knowingly deceive someone. I may sometimes omit information, especially if I think that I cannot yet communicate it effectively to people, but I will refrain as far as possible from lying. If I do lie, however, I will eventually fess up to it, because my conscience won't let me do otherwise. I will also, in serious debates (as opposed to, say, in classroom discussions, where pedagogy may require otherwise), always argue in good faith.

4) Charitability. I understand this in two senses. One, I vow to try to help those people directly in my life as much as possible (my family, my friends, my colleagues, my students, etc.). Two, I will always endeavor to try to be charitable towards people's understandings of things. Since each of us has a worldview which is merely the joint product of our temperament and our life experiences, I will try as best I can to understand things from the point of view of any person with whom I am seriously debating or discussing.

5) Responsibility. I have said a lot of things in my past that I no longer believe in. If you look through my blog archives, you may find statements that are potentially offensive. Though I believed very differently at the time, I still take responsibility for having written them. I apologize to anyone if anything I have ever said or written has caused you pain. If you think I should atone for something that I've done to you in my life, please contact me, and I will do the best I can to enable you to forgive me. From here on out, I also take full responsibility for every statement I make in public or in publication, and for every action I take otherwise. Everything I say or write or do will reflect my beliefs at that time, but I expect my beliefs to evolve as I gain more knowledge and experience.

I think these are a good start--and 5 is a nice number. Should I add new principles, I will make them known. If you notice me violating one of my principles in an egregious manner, please inform me, so that I can put a stop to it. I will do my best to live up to these principles, but I am only human.


What happened to me?

It occurs to me that I should try to explain to people the course that events have taken in my life, now that I think I have finally understood them.

For a brief period--beginning at the end of January and ending only a few weeks ago--I interpreted my experiences superstitiously. I made claims to the effect that I could be a prophet or even God. There's no point in hiding the fact that I made these statements, because there's no point in hiding that I believed them at the time. I no longer believe them now, but once I explain to you what has happened, you might see why I did get so superstitious for a while.

For as long as I can remember--prior to 2009--I had been unhappy. Occasionally, I would have good periods, sometimes lasting for several months. Even when I was happy, though, I was still deeply conflicted with myself. I didn't know what I wanted, although the one thing that I was able to sustain an interest in, eventually led me to grow.

The last 10 years or so of my life have been devoted to studying Western philosophy. The approach I generally take is to be as charitable and sympathetic to an author as I possibly can be. I've assumed that since these books have lasted the test of time--since smart people in every generation seem to find them valuable--then they must be worth studying. I also thought that, to the extent that I failed to understand them, I was at fault, rather than the author.

After many years of intense study, I started reading philosophy in this way consistently. It occurred to me that philosophers are just individuals gifted with the means and opportunity to systematize and articulate their worldviews. But everyone has a worldview, even if they don't have the luxury of being able to detail and defend it.

I had been reading Leibniz, Spinoza, and Descartes for a paper I was working on, along with Hume for a seminar I was sitting in on. All of a sudden, something clicked, and I think I was more perfectly able to see things from each perspective. My ideas of Leibniz, Spinoza, Descartes, Hume and other philosophers I have studied, were more closely able to match the ideas that these thinkers themselves had, because I was able to put myself in their perspectives.

It took me a while to realize it, but I didn't need to limit myself to doing this to dead philosophers or to the small number of people I hung out with primarily because they also revered this particular group of deceased European dudes. I realized I could do the same thing for other living, breathing human beings.

Once I started to understand the world from other perspectives, I began to see how everything (so long as it is balanced and healthy) ultimately works towards its own good and to the good of those things around it. Some parts of the world, however, are a threat to other parts of the world and ultimately to themselves. We need to isolate and correct these problems, but to do so in as nonviolent and noncoercive a fashion as possible.

In any case, it's difficult to include all the various ideas that ran through my head, but the important and noticeable thing is that my temperament radically changed. I went from being a pessimistic, misanthropic, nihilistic atheist into an optimistic, philanthropic believer who now sees great beauty and significance in almost every part of the world. (I'm still learning to appreciate some parts of it.)

I saw the intimate connection between my previous worldview (that the universe was composed simply of unintelligent forces that happened to have produced complexity through evolution, but in a really haphazard way) and my state of mind (depression and anxiety). The problem was, though, that I had to satisfy two things in order for me to take a more optimistic view of the world: my reason and my experience.

In a sense, these were the only two parts of myself that I really paid attention to, for the better part of a decade. My reason was of course primary, as one would expect with an aspiring philosopher. However, I was fortunate, because my dissatisfaction with my experience led me in the directions I now realize that I needed to go in. I happened into the study of the emotions, and even though I tended to think of my own emotions as arbitrary and irrational, I now see how they were designed to motivate me to do certain things.

I believe now that the world has an intelligent designer, a perfect designer, "God" if you want to call it that. Because I believe this now, I have learned to trust my judgment. If God is perfect, then I am perfect too. Not simply as I am now, but as I was and as I will become.

The question for me was, how could this world possibly be perfect? Especially now, what with global warming, seemingly insoluble ethnic and religious conflict, and the recent economic crisis? (And, for those more astronomically-inclined, what about entropy?) This set of concerns is often grouped under the heading "the problem of evil".

I thought about it in the following way: If God is perfect (i.e., all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good), then God would only create the best of all possible worlds. (This is something I take from Leibniz, of course.) God would be able to see which world is best, and then choose that world. I did not believe this to be the best of all possible worlds--not by a long shot--and so while I allowed for the possibility of an intelligent creator, I did not allow for the possibility of a "perfect" one, one that would actually be worthy of worship. In fact, it occurred to me, a perfect creator would not make unnecessary divisions in its creation, that all apparent evils would ultimately turn out to be goods.

I started to see evolution and intelligent design as two perspectives on the same thing. Now, if evolution were purely a product of unintelligent forces, it would be unlikely to produce anything remarkable. It may produce beings like us--that is now believable, the result of the natural processes of biological evolution--but if it produces something more than just unlikely (because given enough time and space, all sorts of unlikely things occur) but so utterly improbable that it would be ridiculous to believe it the product of chance alone.

For me, the improbable event was my elevation into sustained happiness. I used to hate life (only slightly less than I hated the prospect of death), but now I am in love with it. I used to care only about myself; now I find that my greatest happiness comes in making other people happy.

I might be wrong about God--I'll be the first to admit that, even though I no longer have the doubts I once did. But the absence of subjective doubt is not equivalent to certain truth. We should all recognize this. I will try to convince you, but I recognize that I may fail.

I am going to try to write a book. In it, I will try to share this secret I have stumbled upon. I'm going to title it "Omnilibertarianism". I have to write my dissertation first, but I may adapt the whole thing, or parts of it to expedite the publishing process. I anticipate that this book will be published by the beginning of 2012, give or take a year.

My only desire right now is to make the world a better place, and to do so only by using the following tools: my empathy for others and my persuasive abilities. If I convince you, and you decide that you want the same thing I want, then I'll also want your help in trying to make the world happier and more free. But I will never ask someone to do something unless they willingly and knowingly consent to it.

It will be harder to change the world this way, but I think we all know deep down that it's the right way to proceed. We need to start respecting the free will or free choice of other persons, and not try to use violence or deception to influence their behavior. I will try to be as transparent as possible, but I will let you know that I may not always reveal everything that I believe. (There's no point in telling somebody something if there's no chance that they'll believe it.)

Thus, I am going to try to be rhetorically persuasive. But I will be open to answering any objections or counterarguments that are made in good faith, as soon as time permits. I recognize that to the extent that I have failed to persuade someone, my argument is inadequate. It's probably impossible to convince everyone, but I'll convince as many as I'm able.

Another reason I choose honesty and non-violence as operating principles is this: While these kinds of methods are less effective in the short-term, they are more effective in the long run. I am convinced that enlightened self-interest and altruism are one and the same. I adopt these principles because I judge them to be both morally right and to be the only genuinely effective means for changing the world.

Anytime you try to force the world to change in a way it's not amenable to, it will fight back. This is what happens when we use violence to impose our will, or deception, or any other means that does not respect that part of the world for what it is. Each part of the world is different, and each has its proper place; the trick is finding the proper place for each thing, the ideal conditions under which it can flourish and grow.

Right now, humanity is a huge danger to itself. We now have the power to destroy ourselves completely, and it seems like only good fortune has prevented us from doing so already. I would love to see a world in which there were no weapons, but I recognize also that they do have some necessary functions. Weapons of mass destruction, however, seem to me to have no purpose but to destroy human lives, or to influence people's behavior by the threat of destruction. There are far better ways to influence people than by threat of destruction, so I think that nuclear weapons and other WMDs should have no place in this world. They should all be safely disassembled. The knowledge of how to make them will remain, but it will be harder for a person or group to make one if they have to do it from scratch.

I want humanity to stop playing zero-sum games that turn the world's people into winners and losers. Democracy is supposed to be premised on equality and freedom, and this is ultimately at odds with the market and the other competitive institutions that currently govern much of human conduct. Markets are useful tools, as is currency, and other tools that come with capitalism. However, to the extent that capitalism does not actually produce fair and just outcomes, it fails us.

Let's leave markets in place, but regulate them so that their short-term self-interest is compatible with long-term common goods. To allow greed to be, unchecked, the operating principle of our society is to invite catastrophe. All things function well in their own sphere, but want to extend beyond it to places where they may not function so well. Capitalism has gotten out of control. It is destroying us, so we need to modify it, to regulate it properly.


So, to summarize: I had something analogous to a series of religious experiences, and now I think I have found a way to achieve, at least for myself but also possibly for others, sustainable human happiness. (This is so remarkable an event, that you might see why I gave it a religious interpretation.) I want to use my life now to persuade people of this, but never to resort to violence or deception. I'm happy to accept help from any other people who have judged for themselves that this is the right thing to do. I have no intention of becoming a cult leader, so I desire no blind devotion. I expect to be held to the same standards as anyone else when I make my arguments.

(A final note: I have not yet read Eckart Tolle's work, but I know a similar experience happened to him. In fact, I think it has happened to many people throughout history, but it happens more and more as history progresses, if for no other reason than the fact that there are more people around today then there were thousands of years ago.)


An Open Letter to Transhumanists and Other Tolerant Enlightenment Seekers

My Fellow Transhumanists,

First, let me explain what I understand by transhumanism, since you may not think of yourself as a transhumanist. By transhumanism, I mean specifically the idea that it is morally acceptable, perhaps even morally obligatory, for us to improve upon or "transcend" the current human form/condition through whatever means we individually choose.

In other words, anybody who believes that people should be free to experiment with themselves to find their own individual paths to enlightenment or transcendence or whatever they call it--all such people are "transhumanists" in my sense of the term. Of course, if you don't like the term, you can call yourself something else. It's just a word I like to use.

Transhumanists can be religious, non-religious, or irreligious. I am tolerant of all kinds, but I happen to consider myself a religious transhumanist. I think, however, that I can make arguments that any transhumanist will find persuasive. This letter is my first real attempt to do so.

I have an idea. I think I’ve discovered a way to achieve our dreams of being allowed to experiment with ourselves to attain higher states of being. We need to come together, and take over an amenable part of the world, some democratically-governed state or province which could support itself autonomously.

For example, if we convinced all of our number to move to California, British Columbia, or some other semi-autonomous region, we could modify the local laws to allow self-experimentation of the sort that we want. We can eliminate all drug laws, and allow individuals to decide for themselves what drugs they want to take—while children will be regulated by their parents, along with child safety services, and similar programs that ensure parents act responsibly.

If we pick the right place, we would only need to constitute or persuade a majority or supermajority of sufficient size to enact these changes. I think there are enough of us that we can do this, but we need to pick the right place to do it. It might be easiest to go where most transhumanists already live, but only if this state or province is one we could feasibly gain majority control of.

I would appreciate whatever feedback you have to offer on this issue, but I think it is something we can achieve, and in a relatively short amount of time. As long as we abide by the laws of the nation we lived in, and by international laws, there would be nothing stopping us from living in the kind of world we wanted to.

This is why we will want to pick a nation with sufficiently lenient drug laws--anywhere in the United States might be a bad choice, until they end their War on Drugs. Anyone who didn’t want to live in our province or state after we transformed it would be given the opportunity and means to go elsewhere. Displacing people is unfortunate, but it’s probably the way we can do the least damage to other parts of the world.

I want to start a discussion. Where could we go? Where would the native populace be persuadable? [edited: see update below] But also, how should we govern this new state? What regulations should we adopt to ensure that the drugs people use are safe and effective? What labors will we have to perform to sustain our economy? We may eventually be able to automate all undesirable labor, but we must initially find a way to get it done.

But we should ensure a minimal standard of living for each person. Taxes will be kept to a minimum, as will government and laws, but some amount of taxation will be necessary. Consider this the admission price of living in this new society. We are going to need to maintain law and order, and to protect ourselves from outside forces that would try to harm us or force us to change our ways. We will approach government scientifically, experimentally, and always democratically. Each adult citizen will have an equal voice in the government; we will develop a technology that makes direct democracy possible.

I have this idea I call “omnilibertarianism”, which I think would provide an ideal system of government for an autonomous transhumanist community. But I want to try to persuade you all of the soundness of this idea, and only go through with it if a majority of us think it’s a good idea.

For now, I just wish to start the conversation. Please post comments in this place, or email me if you want to send something privately (phallogocentrism at gmail dot com). I look forward to hearing what you have to say, and please send this link to other people: http://sentimentsofrationality.blogspot.com/2009/04/open-letter-to-transhumanists-and-other.html

M. Dominic Eggert
Professional Philosopher, Transhumanist, and Inventor of "Omnilibertarianism" (book by this title forthcoming)

UPDATE: I've decided that, rather than reinvent the wheel, I would join forces with an established movement that already has something like this in mind. I advise you to check out the Free State Project. New Hampshire would be a much easier region to take over, although I still worry about US drug policies. (Thanks goes to commenter "Tech" for this important piece of information.)

I will leave my original message as is, but I will add only the following: Transhumanists, I think we should join forces with the Free State Project. They seem to have room for people like us who want to experiment with ourselves to reach natural transcendence.

My philosophy, omnilibertarianism, is a species of libertarian transhumanism. However, to be honest, it is a left libertarian transhumanism. I am extremely skeptical of raw capitalism and its effects on human freedom. The free market does not provide true freedom. Consumer choices are almost never important decisions, so the freedom to buy what brand of toothpaste we want is not that great. It's still good to have, but there are more important things, as most of us already believe. I will try to persuade people to live in a community with a social safety net, but each should be free to choose for herself or himself.

Once again, people who fall under my definition of "transhumanist"--i.e., those who want to try to achieve enlightenment or transcendence using natural methods (including technological ones, which are no less natural even though they are manufactured)--I am asking you to consider joining forces with the Free State Project. I think this alliance would be to the benefit of everyone involved.