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James Hughes’ Problems of Transhumanism: A Review (Part 4) – Article by Ojochogwu Abdul

James Hughes’ Problems of Transhumanism: A Review (Part 4) – Article by Ojochogwu Abdul

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Ojochogwu Abdul


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Part 4: Moral Universalism vs. Relativism

James Hughes’ essays on the problems of transhumanism continue with a discussion on conflicts, borrowed from the Enlightenment, between universalism and relativism within transhumanism. The Enlightenment event (European and global), in addition to its attack and severance of the roots of traditional European culture in the sacred, magic, kingship, and hierarchy, thereby secularizing all institutions and ideas, also (intellectually and to some extent in practice) effectively set on course the demolition of all legitimizing basis of monarchy, aristocracy, woman’s subordination to man, ecclesiastical authority, and slavery. These were replaced with the principles of universality, equality, and democracy. Included in this was also an argument for moral universalism, a position that ethics and law should apply equally to all humans.

Now, despite profound differences of outlook among the Enlightenment thinkers, there was a wide area of agreement about some fundamental points, i.e., the reality of natural law (in a formulation that signaled a departure from the language of orthodox Catholic or Protestant doctrine), of eternal principles the adherence to which alone could make humans enjoy wisdom, happiness, virtue, and freedom. For theists, deists and atheists, for optimists and pessimists, and for puritans, primitivists, as well as believers in progress and the finest fruits of science and culture, only and just one set of universal and unalterable principles governed the world. These laws were the principles that governed inanimate and animate nature, facts and events, means and ends, private and public life, as well as all societies, epochs and civilizations. Humans degenerate into crime, vice and misery only by failing to follow them. There may have been differences and disagreements among the Enlightenment thinkers about the nature of these laws, the process of their discovery, or who even possessed the qualification to expound them; but that these laws were real, and could be known, be it with certainty or probability, was the widely accepted and central “dogma” of the entire Enlightenment.

Enlightenment thinkers proposed that all humans should be accorded the Rights of Man, though the legitimacy itself of universal, equal rights was advanced by several varieties of argument within the Enlightenment. John Locke, for example, as Hughes explains, argued for universal rights on the grounds that in the human state of nature, as created by God before civilization, we were given possession of our bodies. All humans, therefore, possess these natural rights equally, and interference with individual rights violates natural and divine law. Thomas Jefferson’s statement in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” rested upon this logic.

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Abstract Orderism Fractals 68, 69, 70, 71, and 72 – Art by Gennady Stolyarov II

Abstract Orderism Fractals 68, 69, 70, 71, and 72 – Art by Gennady Stolyarov II

Gennady Stolyarov II


Note from U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II: Abstract Orderism Fractals 68, 69, 70, 71, and 72 were created in December 2017 as gifts for individuals who were instrumental to advancing the work of the United States Transhumanist Party or who have otherwise assisted me in profound ways. Each fractal communicates an aspect of the personality, values, and work of the person to whom it is dedicated.

Navigate to Individual Fractals

Abstract Orderism Fractal 68
Abstract Orderism Fractal 69
Abstract Orderism Fractal 70
Abstract Orderism Fractal 71
Abstract Orderism Fractal 72

Abstract Orderism Fractal 68

Abstract Orderism Fractal 68 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 68 is dedicated to Adeel Khan – a polymath whose never-ending curiosity and willingness to engage in discourse on a myriad of topics are just the attitudes that are necessary to achieve meaningful progress and make sense out of a complex world. Many of Adeel’s ideals align closely with mine, and he appreciates the multiple facets of the mindset needed to bring humankind into its next era – from the embrace of scientific reasoning to the support of the individual’s liberty to innovate.

Like Adeel’s interests, this fractal branches out in many different directions, but there are common overarching themes of improving our species! The path(s) toward a better world may be spiral in nature, but let all of us earnest thinkers explore them or forge our own.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 69

Abstract Orderism Fractal 69 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 69 is dedicated to B.J. Murphy, who has been a steadfast ally and a major contributor to the success of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, of which he serves as the Director of Social Media.

This fractal is gear-like in shape and in the impression of rotation it conveys. The gears at many scales symbolize the technologies that will form the backbone of the new transhuman civilization. B.J. extensively monitors, writes about, and contributes insights to the development of new technologies and entrepreneurial ventures, both on a large scale (for instance, space colonization) and on a small one (for instance, genetic engineering or cryptocurrencies, which exist as bits of code inhabiting physically tiny computer storage drives). The coppery orange color of this fractal is, of course, fitting for gears, but it also completes the color scheme for the U.S. Transhumanist Party, whose colors are orange and black. Orange, in particular, depicts the new political paradigm we seek to bring about. On the visible-light spectrum, orange is between red and yellow. In conventional politics, red has often been associated with socialism, while yellow has often found uses in libertarian symbols. B.J. has a history of involvement with socialist ideas and causes, while I have a (small “l”) libertarian background and sympathies (although the world and life are complicated!) – and yet the future cannot be won by either socialism or libertarianism as such. Rather, the orange color evokes our attempt to take the best aspects of these movements, leave behind ideas that did not anticipate the technological future, and invite all thinkers of good will to participate in the creation of the new era, whose political ideology will differ immensely from anything that came before. One reason why the Transhumanist Party has remained ecumenical and diverse – without being able to be pigeonholed as either “right” or “left” – is because B.J., like me and the rest of our Officer team, has understood and embraced the desirability of keeping it out of the political trenches and, instead, focused toward the stars.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 70

Abstract Orderism Fractal 70 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 70  is dedicated to Kim Bodenhamer Smith, who is herself an artist and combines a unique and extensive variety of passions and activities. One of these activities is unicycling in caves. (I am not sure just how she does it, but she does!) If you follow the progression of the circles in the center of this fractal, you will see the resemblance to a time-lapse of a unicycle wheel entering a cavernous tunnel. Of course, I made this fractal more colorful than the typical cave, because that would convey Kim’s personality more accurately.

In addition to sharing a commitment to truth and justice, Kim also has a highly creative mind and thinks outside of conventional parameters to seek solutions to today’s problems and ways to improve life on both large and small scales. She contributed great insights to our recent Discussion Panel on Art and Transhumanism, and she embraces technology and the innovative use of media in ways that get people thinking about how the world might be changed for the better. She has been a great ally to the U.S. Transhumanist Party as we seek these new paths that will lift humankind into its new era of advancement.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 71

Abstract Orderism Fractal 71 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 71 is an example of what happens when an artificial intelligence is fed desserts. I started out with a fractal that somewhat resembled an ornate display dish on which desserts might be served. Then I used the Google Deep Dream Generator to sequentially feed it images of cakes and cupcakes by Tiffany Henderson Bateman, who has a thriving baking business. As the AI was “dreaming” of delicious treats, the fractal was transformed! 

Abstract Orderism Fractal 72

Abstract Orderism Fractal 72 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 72 is dedicated to John Marlowe, whose staunch advocacy for patients of rare diseases is greatly needed in today’s medical system. In spite of his own struggles, John has found the time and energy to contribute to the transhumanist movement and has been a great friend of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, which embraces any and all efforts to increase medical research and funding toward combating as many rare diseases as possible. John has offered excellent insights on films and science fiction at the Discussion Panel on Art and Transhumanism, and I also enjoyed conversing with him at length at the Super Longevity Holiday Party in Newport Beach. John has been there for our movement and for me personally when we needed both a thoughtful and encouraging voice. We will be there for him and for everyone who needs the public, entrepreneurs, and officials alike to recognize the urgency of fighting every disease with the resources at our disposal.

This fractal might be best interpreted as a view from the top down of an upward spiral of progress, from which luminous flames fan out. This can be seen as an illustration that, from the advancement of medical science in general, specific insights and breakthroughs will arise to cure one disease after another – including rare ailments with no known cures today. We do not always know what the breakthroughs will be or which diseases will be defeated when – but the combination of scientifically informed hope and the ceaseless outward pushing of the boundaries of knowledge will improve the chances of as many people as possible. We have a long struggle ahead to win the war against disease and death, but with John as an ally, the Transhumanist Party will strive to make concrete differences for as many people as possible along the way.

About the Abstract Orderism Fractals

Each fractal above is a digital artwork that was created by Mr. Stolyarov in Apophysis, a free program that facilitates deliberate manipulation of randomly generated fractals into intelligible shapes.

This fractal is an extension of Mr. Stolyarov’s artistic style of Abstract Orderism, whose goal is the creation of abstract objects that are appealing by virtue of their geometric intricacy — a demonstration of the order that man can both discover in the universe and bring into existence through his own actions and applications of the laws of nature.

Fractal art is based on the idea of the spontaneous order – which is pivotal in economics, culture, and human civilization itself. Now, using computer technology, spontaneous orders can be harnessed in individual art works as well.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s art works.