Quotable (#35)

R Scott Bakker advances the case for an ultra-modern, neurologically-informed skepticism:

The question [Blind Brain Theory] raises — the Kantian question, in fact—is simply whether the way humans are functionally constructed to track our own states allows us to track the way humans are functionally constructed to track our own states. Just how is our capacity to know ourselves and others biologically constrained? The evidence that we are so constrained is nothing short of massive. We are not, for instance, functionally constructed to track our functional construction vis a vis, say, vision, absent scientific research. The whole of cognitive science, in fact, testifies to our inability to track our functional construction — the indispensability of taking an empirical approach. Why then, should we presume we possess the functional werewithal to intuit our functional makeup in any regard, let alone that of social cognition? This is the Kantian question because it forces us to see our intuitions regarding social cognition as artifacts of the limits of social cognition — to eschew metacognitive dogmatism.

This is part of an intricate discussion, which this blog is only beginning to pick up on. Beside the excellent post internally linked, a couple of crucial episodes can be found here and here.

As a quotable bonus, the conclusion to the David Roden article just cited:

Nor (given our lack of any transcendental grasp of agency) are we entitled to reflect on the ethical status of very strange posthumans. We have no future-proof grasp of how strange posthumans might be, so we lack any basis for adjudicating the moral status of such beings. We may buy into a parochial humanism which accords humans subjects a level of moral consideration that is greater than the nonhuman creatures we know about. But this does not entail that there are not morally considerable states of being in [Posthuman Possibility Space] of which we are currently unaware which have little in common with the modes of being accessible to current humans. If posthuman politics is anthropologically unbounded, in this way, then any ethical assessment of the posthuman must follow on its historical emergence. If we want to do serious posthuman ethics, we need to make posthumans or become posthuman.

ADDED: Dark Lord possibility space.

10 thoughts on “Quotable (#35)

      • When it comes to things that don’t breed, I could understand that thought to some degree. Maybe you risk the dangerous thing because you just have to know.

        But that’s when it’s a one time thing. Otherwise it seems about as responsible as when people brought animals to various new countries as pets or food or for sport, with no thought as to the ecosystems the introduced animal would screw up in the new country and the extinctions it’d cause.

        • Who do we trust to maintain order? That’s the insistent political dilemma that continually asserts itself. If it wasn’t a problem, all kinds of other things — both practical and speculative — wouldn’t be either.

          • Well the structure of democracy shows we don’t just trust anyone to maintain order – we have a chance (albeit every few years) to remove the people in power (without any bloodshed – which is pretty remarkable given human history). That’s not a system that simply trusts.

            But what are we talking about here? Something that’s driven things so far as to turn to what are acknowledged as psychologically unknown individuals to be put into power in case they are the ones you can trust to maintain order?

            Were not just talking about making posthumans or ‘becoming’ posthumans (which is like a dinosaur ‘becoming’ a bird – that’s really a process of extinction), but putting them into power as well??

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