Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Singularity (Reprise)

My last posting on the Singularity explains how it is that the Ultimate Philosopher, through the sheer logic of it all and a process of elimination, came to own the domain name

Here is my philosophical interpretation of the Singularity, stimulated by a comment on the last posting:

The essential demarcation point for the Singularity, according to the scientific community - or at least the main "Singularity Guy," Ray Kurzweil - is the building of super-intelligent machines, presumably to occur a few decades in the future. Once a super-intelligent machine is built, it would be capable of conjuring up ever-more intelligent machines. There's just no extrapolating from current trends that would tell us, now, what's going to happen after that. It would be a leap to the Next Level of intelligence, an intelligence explosion.

My current project is aimed toward sparking an intelligence explosion well before the scientists predict. The project is premised upon something very few people acknowledge at this point: the ultimate power of the mind and of ideas as the ruling force in history. Not technology, but ideas - the mind - which is the source of all our technology to begin with.

There would be no technology without a well-developed scientific method, a systematic approach to investigating the natural world. We did not get the modern Scientific Revolution until after St. Thomas Aquinas introduced the works of Aristotle - lost for over 1,000 years - back to the West. Aristotle was the ancient grandmaster of natural inquiry, and his example inspired the Renaissance generations of natural philosophers. Their efforts have demonstrated the power of philosophy, the ultimate integrating science, to shape the course of human affairs (for the better or for the worse, depending on how good or bad an influential philosopher's thought processes were).

The exact nature of philosophy's role in shaping our history is basically unknown to the current generations brought up in our broken educational institutions. This is why both Aristotle and Ayn Rand, in their actual natures, are so egregiously, awesomely unknown to the current generation. The absolutely essential role of integration in Rand's way of thinking is pretty much entirely unknown to the wider public, drowned amidst a see of incomprehension and misdirection pointing to alleged problems in her egoist ethics and capitalist politics. Without any understanding of the significance of Rand's emphasis on integration, there's just no way for a casual reader, with no access to her vast and integrated context, to "get" her. And, with that, her emphasis on the profound significance of Aristotle, a master at the same style of integration, will also fall upon deaf ears.

As to Aristotle's significance, there is no excuse - no excuse whatsofuckingever - for the "philosophical mainstream" not to have caught on as quickly and efficiently (due to the integration of Aristotle's ideas with an existing sum of knowledge, and through sheer force of will to understand) as Ayn Rand did.

When Aristotle's work hit the American public in the early 20th century, much of America was too busy focusing on other shit to study philosophy indepth (such as fighting wars, which ultimately are due to bad philosophy). America's leading philosophers at the time had been misdirected into a rut by the dominant schools of the time - Postivism and Pragmatism - drawing all sorts of valuable intellectual resources away from the study of Aristotle. Ayn Rand was in the unique position at the time to have written The Fountainhead and then to embark on a full-scale study of the history of philosophy. Her context was such that she and she alone was capable of seeing how absolutely crucial Aristotle was to the survival of the West.

And she was the first thinker of the 20th century to adopt, in essence, Aristotle's own ways of thinking. Their conclusions differed, but their ways of thinking were the same. They are both systematizing empiricists and, consequently, ethical eudaemonists of the most sound and complete variety. (That there is widespread ignorance about the nature of eudaemonism, is another ugly testament to the power of bad thinking.)

The intelligence explosion is going to happen once our population understands and adopts the way of thinking shared by Aristotle and Rand. It is the most reality-oriented thinking going. It is the most systematic, logical, and integrated, and all based irreducibly on the evidence of the senses. (That empiricism is associated in the public mind primarily with David Hume, is yet another ugly testament to the power of bad thinking, which leads to massive and widespread point-missing - like what's happened with the public response to Rand's work.)

Now, being able identify the relevent essential similarity between Rand and Aristotle requires a context of knowledge that readers of my forthcoming opus are simply not going to have right off the bat. The goal is to communicate that context to a mass audience in as clear and efficient a manner as possible.

It's worth mentioning here that the book will most decidedly not be aimed at the middle-aged and older generations, whose contexts are so far removed from mine and Rand's, and who are all too set in their ways of thinking. This also means that it's pointless to aim this book at an academic audience. The best that can be said for the academy right now is that Aristotle - some 70-odd years after Rand had already figured him out as the philosophical Atlas of the West - is now making his inevitable headway there.

But my background context isn't primarily Aristotle; it is primarily Ayn Rand, and by implication Aristotle. (Her philosophical insights essentially subsume his, along with modern American individualism and its concept of individual rights, a Romanticist "sense of life" component she got from Nietzsche, and her own chief philosophical creation, her presently-neglected theory of concepts.) I've drawn the relevant integration regarding these three - Aristotle, Nietzsche, Rand - and then, adding in the insights of David L. Norton, and noticing a vast array of historical concrete instances in the non-philosophical professions (e.g., Stanley Kubrick, Michael Jordan, Einstein, Beethoven, Thomas Jefferson), I arrived at my thesis of Perfectionism.

As far as I can tell, Perfectionism is immune from criticism, for any attempt to refute or deny it implicitly presupposes it. The basic idea of Perfectionism is that the utmost application of one's cognitive apparatus - with thinking as one's basic virtue, as Rand recognized - will lead to the most perfect life for the person: happy, purposeful, productive, efficacious, efficient, empowered, supremely benevolent in the Roarkian sense.

This is why my forthcoming opus will be aimed chiefly at the most effective vehicles for the intelligence explosion: young intellectuals. In this, I am following precisely in Rand's footsteps. Get 'em when they're young, before their context has been all fucked-up by the non-Aristotelian aspects of our culture.

The strategy here is ruthlessly efficient. Ayn Rand's writings are and must be the primary driving force for the intelligence explosion. The logic here is quite inevitable. Rand is accessible, a fine introduction to philosophy (and its power) for the layperson, and already widely-read. She is most widely read and known through her novels. And so, I aim to exploit people's familiarity with Rand as best as I can. I aim to present a vindication of the (perfectionist) ideas in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and most crucially for those young intellectuals who have just encountered her and want to know more.

My path to Rand was a bit unusual. For me, it was a copy of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal which I encountered through some good luck. (Prior to that encounter, my chief intellectual influence was Milton Friedman, the consummate pragmatic libertarian-liberal who couldn't tell you a thing about Aristotle.) But, like with many youths, I was most "blown away" initially by Atlas Shrugged. What I wasn't prepared for, philosophically, was how ideas so compellingly right as hers were so viciously and blindly denounced and ridiculed. What I didn't grasp was how foreign Rand's context was to the society's at large. The basic reason for that foreign-ness is Aristotle's foreign-ness to the public.

Had I and many other young intellectuals had a book in my first year of college like the one I presently have in the works, the intelligence explosion would have been well underway by now. The key is to get as many people as possible thinking the way Aristotle and Rand did, as quickly and efficiently as possible.

And that, in short, is how the Singularity is going to happen.

[CLIFFHANGER: What will I post next?]

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