Friday, March 19, 2021

On Medium: Glimpsing the Posthuman Mentality

Sketching out an advanced, posthuman mentality that would make our received wisdom seem childish.


  1. The average adult mind seems childish to many of us already.

    1. That's true. There are already human geniuses, but they're the exceptions that prove the rule. In this article I'm talking about the difference between human and posthuman mentalities which has to do with their averages.

  2. I appreciate how you pointed out that there is no reason to see the transition from childhood to adulthood as teleological.

    I vividly remember how, during puberty, I kept thinking: "Why is everyone suddenly acting so stupid?" By 'everyone' I meant everyone in my age group. At times I felt embarrassed for them. One of my best friends, an honor student, suddenly didn't have time for anything except drinking & chasing girls & his grades plummeted; but his descent was only the crest of the wave. I felt left behind, & I was.

    Most children are ignorant when compared to most adults & yet they often seem a great deal more reasonable & objective. Morphologically, humans bear a striking resemblance to juvenile chimpanzees: weak jaws but large, dome-shaped skulls. Might the post human actually seem child-like in comparison to us? And not just in appearance, but in behavior?

    The evolutionary paradigm has conditioned us to think in terms of progress rather than decay (even though this is not what Darwin meant at all). But maybe there is some truth in the older narrative of a fallen humanity & the future being worse than the past. In that case, the modern 'crises': adult infantilization, low sperm counts, low testosterone, may not be a symptom of decadence, but of restoration -- a return to Eden. If our procreative difficulties continue we may eventually be forced to come up with a technological solution to maintain our species, which would make puberty redundant & the adult form as anachronistic as that of the neanderthal's.

    1. Children seem more objective because they're fearless and have fewer social filters. That is, they can be brutally honest, but what they report in that state of mind is often just their impressions, regardless of whether they're rude or naive. (Trump was the same way since his narcissism made him childlike.) Children's knowledge is what's typically limited.

      Although there's no teleology here, I do think there's an objective basis of the comparison between the relation of early to later civilizations in history, on the one hand, and the child's maturation into the adult, on the other. As I've written elsewhere, the basis is just the accumulation of memory, experience, context, information, and so on. That's why the later civilizations know more than the earlier ones, because aside from some dark ages, information tends to accumulate as it's preserved in the historical record. My point about posthumanism just extends that series.

      However, there's a comparable basis for the possibility you raise, since due to dementia and bodily helplessness, the elderly can regress to a childlike state. Projecting from the individual to the collective in a Spenglerian manner, we might predict that societies become childlike in certain respects as they, too, degenerate. If that decline feels Edenic to the elderly, it might be a fortunate delusion to prevent them from understanding all the ugly details about death.

      I talk about a similar speculation in an older article here:

    2. Dementia wasn't quite what I was driving at, but it is true that for many old age is a sort of second childhood. The idea is that if homo sapiens could be described as neotenous chimps, then our successors might resemble neotenous humans -- children who don't grow up. It's interesting how much this trope turns up in alien lore: many of the extraterrestrials that allegedly populate our galaxy are described by contactees as having a childlike appearance -- especially the Zeta Reticulans or 'greys' as they are popularly known. Indeed, the paranormal researcher John Keel, after a lifetime of interviewing alleged alien contactees, concluded that whatever these beings are, they can not possibly be extraterrestrials. In his final published book The Eighth Tower he writes:

      "Would beings from some distant galaxy travel hundreds of light years to play such jokes on us...In my own peculiar adventures with people claiming to be in contact with the UFO entities, I found that the representatives of that superior technology in the sky were astonishingly stupid, had a wild, even vicious sense of humor, and also had furious tempers like the devils, demons, and valkyries of old. By human standards these phenomenal entities are emotionally disturbed. The lonely explorers adventuring in the various frames of reference have struggled to endow them with human qualities, to find some rationale for their irrational behavior, to render plausible their totally implausible nature. Few have dared to confront the obvious truth: the source of all of these subhumans and parahumans is not sane."

      Keel expected superhuman entities to think & act like adults. But everything we know about our own evolution from lower animals tells us to expect the opposite. If beasts could reflect on human actions, they would almost certainly consider us mad. Should the behavior of superhumans seem any less demented from our own benighted perspective?

      Schopenhauer did not believe in superhuman intelligences because he thought that any species more intelligent than us would destroy itself, not accidentally through some technological catastrophy, but deliberately out of disgust & horror over its own existence. But there is an another possibility: the kind that Lovecraft alludes to in some of his stories. Superior insight & intelligence are not exactly conductive to what most regard as sanity.

    3. I think the upshot here is that there's a difference between advanced intelligence in the abstract and the broader of question of advanced mentality, which my article runs together.

      I have an article that will come out in the next couple of weeks called "Transhuman Epistemology: Knowledge in the Greater Scheme," which addresses the broader question of how people would handle advanced intelligence. Indeed, my recent article on the arrogance of intellectuals and the prospect of technocracy goes over the difference between left-brained expertise and wisdom/virtue.

      Certainly, in so far as intelligence brings power and therefore corruption, this "advance" could amount to infantilization. So the question is about whether some virtues are compatible with limitless left-brained knowledge. Or would such knowledge be self-destructive and counterproductive? Of course, no one knows and we can only speculate.

      But indeed, lots of science fiction stories suggest that so-called advanced species would be either evil or infantile. WALL-E shows how technological progress in a consumer society could turn us into helpless babies.

  3. Thiago FáveroMarch 25, 2021 at 5:17 PM

    I find it funny when I see people being mean with transsexuality while they perform many transnatural behaviors such as physical exercises due to aesthetic reasons, plastic surgery, beauty procedures for hair, wearing clothes, words ...