Browsed by
Tag: knowledge

“Death is Wrong” Distribution Campaign Nears Completion – Update of August 6, 2014 – by G. Stolyarov II

“Death is Wrong” Distribution Campaign Nears Completion – Update of August 6, 2014 – by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
August 6, 2014
******************************

Only 9 Death is Wrong books remain to be sent out as part of our worldwide distribution effort! If you wish to help in providing the books out to children, this is your last chance to get your free shipment now.

10 books were recently sent to Jason Limbert – a long-time supporter of radical life extension in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. He will be distributing these books to children in his extended family, their friends, and children of neighbors.

3 books were sent to children of relatives of Wendy Stolyarov, my wife and the illustrator of Death is Wrong.

2 books were sent to RJ Lewis in California, a mother, inventor, publicist, and supporter of life extension and cryonics.

We continue to receive excellent exposure from the previous shipments. Here is a picture sent by Jennifer Huse of the shipment that recently arrived at the Spot the Knot medical spa in Eatontown, New Jersey.

DIW_Books_Received_Huse Roen Horn of the Eternal Life Fan Club has begun a strongly publicized series of book giveaways, the first of which he captured on camera. Here is his video featuring two kids who know that death is wrong.

Accompanying Roen’s video are these excellent graphics.

Children_Know_That_Death_is_WrongChildren_Know_That_Death_is_Wrong_2

All this was made possible by our distribution campaign. We see here great examples of the impact this book is having right now. We are making history by gradually injecting the ideas of indefinite life extension into the cultural mainstream. Help us finish this effort by spreading our last freely available books! To receive your free shipment, e-mail me at gennadystolyarovii@gmail.com with (i) your name, (ii) your MAILING ADDRESS, (iii) your support for indefinite life extension, (iv) the NUMBER OF COPIES of Death is Wrong requested, and (v) your plan for spreading the books to children, free of cost to them.

The Differences Between Neanderthals and Their Early Human Contemporaries (2004) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The Differences Between Neanderthals and Their Early Human Contemporaries (2004) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 27, 2014
******************************
Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2004 and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay earned over 13,000 page views on Associated Content/Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  
***
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 27, 2014

**

Popular myth holds it that modern humans are descended from Neanderthals. This is demonstrably false. Neanderthals were a different hominid species from Homo sapiens, or modern man. The two species existed side by side as late as 24,000 B. C., but the Neanderthals lacked either the technical sophistication or the cultural and artistic dispositions of their human contemporaries. In essence, Homo neanderthalensis was a “dead end” species in the scheme of evolution; both the Neanderthals and modern humans had the same common ancestor, but are divergent branches of the evolutionary tree.

Neanderthals did not display any signs of a symbolic life. Though they buried their dead, they did so haphazardly. In contrast, throughout the past 50,000 years, modern men buried their dead with great care and ceremony, indicating their value for human life and their grief over its loss. In the realm of tool-making, Neanderthal technology was far more primitive and less efficient. Neanderthals wielded heavy stabbing spears that did not require any fine craftsmanship to manufacture and possessed a far smaller range than the versatile throwing spears of modern men, which often required great mastery and time to construct.

Whereas there is no evidence of systematic teaching in Neanderthal communities, and it was likely that every generation had rediscovered the same primitive technologies, modern humans, from their beginnings, passed on to their offspring the technical skills that would eventually dominate the planet. This communication of skills and techniques also contributed to the evolution of language and firmer social bonds, as those facilitated more effective creation and use of tools.

The significance of shell beads and ornamentation from 35,000 to 43,000 years ago in Turkey, the oldest decorations of this manner, is that they were not created with any explicitly utilitarian purpose. Not usable in hunting or gathering, they were an expression of individual creativity and identity unseen in any other animals, including the hominids that preceded modern man. Their existence signified an evolution of a hitherto nonexistent facet of consciousness. Homo sapiens created such works of art, whereas their ancestors and hominid contemporaries could not have.

Though they were genetically close, Neanderthals and modern humans were a wide gulf apart in terms of their mental faculties and creative abilities. This dramatic difference explains the natural selection that occurred in favor of modern humans, whose increased adaptability to hostile environments and ability to improve upon their surroundings proved a decisive advantage over the Neanderthals.

Commonly Misunderstood Concepts: Education (2009) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Commonly Misunderstood Concepts: Education (2009) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

 

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
Originally Published October 3, 2009
as Part of Issue CCX of The Rational Argumentator
Republished July 24, 2014
******************************
Note from the Author: This essay was originally published as part of Issue CCX of The Rational Argumentator on October 3, 2009, using the Yahoo! Voices publishing platform. Because of the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices, the essay is now being made directly available on The Rational Argumentator.
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 24, 2014
***

 

***

There are several terms that are commonly misunderstood in most contemporary societies, with devastating consequences. Among these are “education,” “health care,” “employment,” “wealth,” and “happiness.” In this series, I hope to dispel – one by one – common fallacies surrounding these terms and to replace them with truer, more life-affirming understandings.

Education is the first colossally misunderstood term that I would like to address – as misunderstandings of it create massive societal problems where none need exist, and at the same time blind many people to genuine, but oft-overlooked problems.

Dictionary.com defines “education” in several ways:

1. The act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.

2. The act or process of imparting or acquiring particular knowledge or skills, as for a profession.

3. A degree, level, or kind of schooling.

4. The result produced by instruction, training, or study.

5. The science or art of teaching.

Already the multiple possible meanings impart some ambiguity to the term. Clearly, acquiring general knowledge and developing the powers of reasoning and judgment are not the same as attending a school. Many a person has attended schools – even elite schools – and learned scarcely anything at all. While the dictionary writers at least take care to distinguish the different uses of the term “education,” a more commonplace tendency in today’s world is to package all the meanings together and to consider them inextricable from one another.

It is thus that the obsessive emphasis of contemporary societies on formal schooling operates. Abuses of the term “education” lead to a belief that schooling is both necessary and sufficient for learning, as if sitting in a classroom with thirty other similarly ignorant people is indispensable for attaining knowledge, but will also magically impart this knowledge to everyone involved.

I will preface further discussion by emphasizing that I have probably gotten the most out of formal schooling that an individual could hope to get. I was valedictorian of my class in high school and salutatorian in college, where I pursued three majors. And yet, in retrospect, I find that my best learning had always been self-initiated and self-motivated – and that I could not have succeeded in school without the effort I put in to acquire knowledge on my own.

Equating education with formal schooling is not a harmless idiosyncrasy; it is both expensive and costly. The equation of education with formal institutions leads to the demand to spend vast amounts of money on such formal institutions – as if dollars spent could purchase motivation, curiosity, and initiative. Conventional institutionalized schooling also makes substandard use of the most formative time in an individual’s life – the time when that person’s mind forms the habits and connections that shape both learning and character for decades into the future. Literally hundreds of millions of young people spend the vast majority of their time sitting behind desks, walking in lines, and being confined to “restricted areas” within school buildings, when they could much more readily utilize their talents elsewhere.

One problem with the model of Western public schools is that it creates a one-size-fits-all standard to which every student is expected to conform. The teacher can typically only do one thing in the classroom at a time. Teachers generally have no choice but to gauge the average level of knowledge and skill in the class and to teach primarily to that level. The students who know the material already or who grasp it more quickly have their time wasted; the students who do not follow as quickly as their “average” peers are often left behind. And the “average” students – to be quite blunt – generally do not learn particularly much, certainly not enough to justify forgoing twelve to sixteen years of their lives.

The second problem with Western public schools is that they segregate individuals by age groups, separating young people from those who are most qualified to give them an education – their elders – people whose experience exceeds that of the young people by anywhere from a few years to a few generations. Within public schools, and to a degree within universities as well, most young people are barely aware of anything beyond the immediate, pressing concerns of their own age group; few learn to expect the major transitions that are about to come in virtually all of their lives, and few absorb the skills needed to handle such transitions successfully. Within a peer group for which there exist no serious role models who have actually accomplished something, the lowest common denominator tends to prevail. This is, in part, why reckless, self-destructive, and delinquent behaviors among young people are so common in the West today.

The third problem with Western public schools is the manner in which uniform curricula tend to stifle the development of individual agendas of learning and curiosity in general. The teacher is paid to lecture on a certain predetermined subject material; if a student asks an interesting but tangential question, the teacher – even if he favors curiosity – must often suppress the inquiry for fear of lacking the time to do the job for which he was paid. At the same time, other students may not be interested in the same tangential questions, but might have other questions of their own; it is simply not possible to address all the questions and actualize all of the vast potential of every individual within the standardized structure of a classroom.

The fourth and most disturbing problem of public schools arises from the fact that the best children and teenagers are herded together with the worst: the bullies who mercilessly inflict every kind of petty and not-so-petty abuse imaginable on those who are better than they – for the very fact that their victims are better. Bullying creates an atmosphere of fear, stifled ambition, and anti-intellectualism – even among many students who would never engage in bullying themselves. Bullying – both of the physical sort and of the “softer” verbal sort that happens so often via the cliques and popularity contests that emerge in the schools – is the enforcement mechanism for conformity to the lowest common denominator. Its product is the unthinking acceptance by millions of young people of the latest fads, the most careless risks, and a complete unawareness of their future potential.

It is true that formal schooling could work in some cases – where every student is already reasonably knowledgeable, motivated, and respectful of others. A university course where each student desires to delve deeply and earnestly into the subject matter is a good example of this. But even universities today have become populated with students who neither need nor deserve to be there – all a result of government subsidies fueled by a mistaken perception that college and university educations are needed for even the most routine clerical jobs. As a result, the universities are rapidly succumbing to the same kinds of intellectual apathy, lowest-common-denominator teaching, and reckless behavior that have long plagued the public schools. The term “student” no longer carries a connotation of great honor and respectability, as it did even a century ago. Instead, everyone appears to have a Bachelor’s Degree these days, and to have trouble finding work at a fast-food restaurant with one. In an effort to remedy this, the best and brightest are often pigeonholed by public opinion into attending graduate school, even though many of them have little interest in subsequently becoming academicians. By the time they leave graduate school, they are already in their late twenties, almost certainly poor, and likely in severe debt. Misguided overvaluation of formal schooling has prevented aspiring lawyers and doctors from simply taking the bar and medical exams whenever they wished and receiving their licenses if they passed the rigorous exams. Instead, protectionist professional associations – the white-collar equivalent of labor unions – have collaborated with academia to make the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars on formal schooling a requirement prior to even being allowed to take these exams. The ideal of a meritocracy or natural aristocracy of talent has been replaced by the ideal of the pecking order of seniority and pull, where one must grovel and pay in hopes of someday – probably only when one’s health begins to fail – receiving the groveling and payments of others.

At the same time, societal attitudes make formal schooling a virtual requirement for self-esteem. Many bright, talented individuals who could accomplish tremendous feats if they entered a trade in their early teens are pressured to feel inferior and incompetent until they have served their time. In truth, they have nothing to feel substandard about. Formal schooling is not a requirement for knowledge, skill, or good character; it is not a substitute for entrepreneurial insight, creativity, or determination. It cannot make a person a success or prevent failure. It cannot teach a person anything he could not teach himself. It is not needed as a proof of a person’s competency, nor as a requirement to get a job. Most of what a person does for a living is learned through the experience of doing it – and schooling requirements simply serve as arbitrary barriers to deny some the opportunity of getting this experience.

Formal schooling, to be sure, has its uses – especially for training the academicians and other intellectuals of the next generation. But it would only be strengthened in this role if educational institutions did not have to deal with the people who do not need to attend them and whose education can be achieved spectacularly without them.

Read other articles in The Rational Argumentator’s Issue CCX.

Immanuel Kant’s Ideas on Knowledge, Science, Morality, and Rational Free Will (2002) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

Immanuel Kant’s Ideas on Knowledge, Science, Morality, and Rational Free Will (2002) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 23, 2014
******************************
Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2002 and published in three parts on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay earned over 23,000 page views on Associated Content/Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  The essay should be read as a factual exposition, not an endorsement, of Kant’s views.***
***
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 23, 2014
***

Immanuel Kant’s Early Life and Ideas on Knowledge

***

Immanuel Kant was born in 1724 in the East Prussian city of Konigsberg (modern Kaliningrad, although the post-Communist leadership of the Russian Federation is considering an alteration of its name to “Kantgrad”), in the middle-class family of a manufacturer of saddles. He lived on a moderate income, sufficient for him to attend the university within the city and display the reputation of a formidable student.

Kant was a man of rather fragile health and a “late bloomer”, and thus spent the better portion of his youth slowly obtaining knowledge sufficient to gradually ascend the hierarchy within the university. His early years were spent constantly engaging in social activities and exposing himself to both the mundane and the ideological worlds. However, his contemporaries perceived that despite his insightful mind and abundance of ideas, Kant would never emerge as a leading philosopher due to the worldly distractions that he faced.

The young Kant became determined to prove his doubters wrong. He altered his routine, beginning in his late twenties and intensifying as he neared old age, into a rigid, nearly mechanical working discipline, forfeiting most interpersonal interactions other than those with his students (he was a private tutor earning a meager income prior to having earned his doctorate in 1755). He resolved never to marry nor acquire a family that would divert him from the task of becoming the prominent thinker who revolutionized Western thought.

Kant’s first work was composed in 1746, and titled Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living Forces. His ideology developed from that point into the formidable and thought-provoking philosophical doctrine that one would encounter in Critique of Pure Reason (First Edition published in 1781, the Second Edition in 1787).

Kant argues that there exists a difference between individual perception of the world and the absolute reality in which the human species dwells. He refers to the external world as “things-in-themselves,” of which every person possesses a varying and inaccurate understanding due to the unique manner in which an individual’s mind would process this information. This activity is known as synthesis, and involves the assimilation of data into the mind, after which it is blended with and connected to previous experiences to thus add to one’s perception.

Kant rejects the existence of a priori intuitive postulates within the human mind, claiming that so-called “intuition” is a product of having received information, then engaged in discourse on or analysis of the topic that the information concerns, and, at last, forged a conclusion, a point where synthesis forms the understanding that becomes a portion of our perception. Kant divides intuition into two categories, “sensible,” which is presented with material after which it undergoes synthesis and extracts an “insight” from it, and “intellectual,” which actually “creates” truth. Only God, according to Kant’s doctrine, would possess intellectual intuition.

Immanuel Kant’s Ideas on Science and Morality

***

According to  Immanuel Kant, no person may possess inherent wisdom about reality. This is best summarized in the philosopher’s famous expression, “Thoughts without content are empty; intuitions without data are blind.”

Indeed, Kant believes that in order for us to utilize our sensible intuition, we must possess two stimuli, “physical sensation” and “moral duty.” The first of the two addresses a portion of Kantian thought known as “empirical realism,” a reasoning that defines that absolute reality as the entire universe in which all human beings dwell. Every time we acquire external data from that absolute reality, our perception of it assumes a greater degree of accuracy. And what would be the optimal way of acquiring such data with only minimal if any contact with other persons’ perceptions (which are, like ours, inaccurate, only in different ways, since each human being possesses a unique arsenal of experiences)?

Scientific exploration is, therefore, the key to an ultimate comprehension of things-in-themselves. Kant was a fervent admirer of Newtonian thought and the Scientific Method, which permitted scientists to ascend to unprecedented heights in their understanding of and control over nature.

The second stimulus to action, moral duty, provides the explanation for the purpose of all human actions toward the comprehension of the universe. This portion of Kant’s doctrine has been dubbed by the philosopher as “transcendental idealism,” since it establishes a framework outside the natural world upon which correct actions are based. Kant sees the ultimate virtues to be the attempts to reach three goals which are not yet found in reality, God, freedom, and the immortality of individuals. God, the Creator and Supreme Being of the universe, must be fathomed, properly interpreted, and obeyed in accordance with his true desires. Freedom, the individual liberty to act as one wishes and to grant all others this right, must be instituted through societal reforms and a development of ideology to understand the proper order that would establish such an atmosphere. And, at last, every human being must rise to possess the right to exist for an indefinite length of time that he may obey the commandments of God and practice his freedoms. Kant states that all which is right and moral must be based upon those three principles.

As such, Kant separates the scientific realm (which describes what is) from the moral realm (which explains what ought to be), but he considers these two realms to go hand-in-hand — ultimately advocating putting the scientific realm in service to moral one.

Immanuel Kant’s View of Rational Free Will and Its Implications for Criminal Justice

***

In the view of Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804), all individuals possess a “rational free will” and are capable of recognizing the three pillars of morality – God, freedom, and immortality – and acting accordingly with them. Kant recognizes that every intended deed is purposeful and selected by the person who commits it.

According to Kant, no set of circumstances, no matter how great their severity, can force a person to abandon the three moral virtues unless the individual himself selects to do so. And this selection, then, permits for punishment to be distributed to an individual based on the action undertaken. Thus, every deed committed with the intention of being so done implies a moral accountability within the human responsible.

This model of thought is of immense help to understanding what actions Kant saw as necessary for the creation of justice within the real world, since, once again, every individual’s worldview is based upon that individual’s own set of experiences. Thus, any judgment by one individual of another’s set of “data” will be subjective and skewed, which perverts any prospect for objective justice. That is, unless an objective framework such as one of “God, freedom, immortality” is used to evaluate a deed and not the person responsible, while properly rewarding or punishing the latter.

A Kantian justice system would thus solely focus on what was done, rather than on the character of the person who did it. No excuses regarding a criminal’s genome, upbringing, history of mental illness, or socioeconomic status can exonerate him from receiving punishment for the criminal act. The fact that a man was abused during his childhood does not justify his infliction of similar abuse on others later in life. The fact that a mother who drowned her five children was suffering from post-partum depression does not nullify her responsibility for the act and the need to punish her to the utmost extent possible.

Indeed, a court organized on Kantian lines might be able to exercise its functions using purely objective, factual considerations. Evaluating the evidence in a specific case, the court could conclusively determine what was done, and who did it, from which the punishment for the perpetrator would follow algorithmically, being already stipulated in the law. Whether the criminal is a “nice person” or has a history of past troubles would have no bearing on the outcome – thus eliminating the need for subjective opinions entering the analysis. Neither aloof nor passionate behavior on the part of the defendant in the courtroom would have the ability to sway the court’s decision one bit.

Particular, Principled, Context-Specific Justice (2010) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Particular, Principled, Context-Specific Justice (2010) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
Originally Published April 11, 2010
as Part of Issue CCXLIV of The Rational Argumentator
Republished July 18, 2014
******************************
Note from the Author: This essay was originally published as part of Issue CCXLIV of The Rational Argumentator on April 11, 2010, using the Yahoo! Voices publishing platform. Because of the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices, the essay is now being made directly available on The Rational Argumentator. The arguments in it continue to be relevant to discussions regarding justice, natural law, and a merit-based society, and therefore it is fitting for this publication to provide these arguments a fresh presence.
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 18, 2014
***

Here, I will briefly outline the fundamental features of a new approach to justice that departs radically from the egalitarian view typical of our era. A departure from egalitarianism may appear to some to be reactionary – with the alternative being a reversion to the older, class-based systems of justice, where different individuals were afforded different treatments on the basis of membership in rather arbitrarily defined groups. However, the approach of particular, principled, context-specific justice is in fact highly progressive in that it rejects the collectivism and suffering of innocents inherent in both class-based and egalitarian systems of justice. If we use an analogy to medical evolution, class-based justice could be compared to the pre-scientific treatments of bleeding and leeches; egalitarian justice could be compared to a mass-marketed pill that helps some people, but not in all ways, and also causes substantial adverse side effects in others; particular and context-specific justice is like an army of tiny nano-machines, repairing specific instances of bodily damage cell by cell without damaging healthy tissues. What nano-medicine promises to accomplish for the principle of health, particular and context-specific justice can accomplish in advancing the principle of merit.

The best way of encapsulating particular, principled, context-specific justice is to say that justice should not be blind. Indeed, justice should see as much as possible about the situation which is being judged and use all relevant information to arrive at a remedy specifically tailored to that situation. Any simplification of this principle – including the invocation of group- or class-based stereotypes, inflexible norms, and binding precedents – leads a departure from the just outcome.

It is a necessary component of justice that no innocent person should be harmed by its application – and that no guilty person should be harmed by it beyond the extent specifically warranted by his guilt. To hold otherwise is to embrace not justice, but pseudo-pragmatic trade-offs, where the suffering of some innocents is weighed against the perceived greater or lesser suffering of other innocents. To enforce such trade-offs is not within the legitimate power of any human being, nor is it necessitated by the natures of things or genuine practicality.

Unfortunately, “justice” as conceived by many of our contemporaries – egalitarian justice, or, phrased less generously, one-size-fits-all justice – necessitates the making of trade-offs that harm innocent people in virtually every case. Egalitarian justice is based on the premise that all persons must be treated in the same manner, irrespective of their individual qualities, context, and the consequences of a particular treatment. The uniform treatment is intended to produce the “greatest good for the greatest number” – but it often results in the lowering of the manner in which people are actually treated to a mediocre level, or even to the level of the lowest common denominator. Egalitarian justice typically imposes mandates or prohibitions deemed to improve the position of the “average person” or the majority of people; in reality, such impositions hamstring the above-average individuals while providing only slight, if any, benefits for the others. Indeed, many egalitarians, after the failure of their attempts to elevate the majority through one-size-fits-all measures, resort to insisting that everyone must “share the burden” equally – i.e., suffer by the same amount in situations where, before, no suffering was necessary.

Egalitarian justice is misguided, because it is premised on the idea that justice applies fundamentally to collectives of people, as opposed to individuals – who are the basic units where human perception, thinking, creation, and decision-making are concerned. Egalitarian justice seeks – at least in its best-intentioned variant – to bring about societal improvement by imposing the same rules and treatments upon all of society.

By contrast, reason and morality – natural law – require that every individual be treated in accordance with the merits or demerits of that individual’s own actions. Individuals who act rationally and morally, to the genuine benefit of themselves and others, should be rewarded, and individuals who act detrimentally – by harming others or themselves – should suffer the naturally ensuing adverse consequences of their actions. Individuals who harm only themselves are already punished sufficiently by the harm they inflict; there is no need for an external entity to disproportionately magnify that harm. However, individuals whose actions also adversely affect innocent others will not always be thwarted in time to prevent the harm. Hence arises the need for societal institutions, external to a particular situation where harm to others can be caused, to prevent or remedy such harm. This is the function of justice.

Thus, to have true justice in a particular case, it is clear that the harm to innocent persons in that case must be prevented or remedied – and, just as importantly, no harm must be caused by the process of justice itself. This is impossible to accomplish without a finely targeted approach: one that attempts to fathom the particular situation in all its relevant details, to establish the harm being committed or threatened, and to develop a way of neutralizing that harm which will punish only the guilty, and only in proportion to their guilt. A simplistic rule, conceived to apply to a myriad of diverse cases, apart from the context of these particular cases, is not adequate to this task.

It may seem at first glance that the attainment of particular justice precludes the application of any principles whatsoever. After all, are principles not themselves general rules that are developed apart from any given particular case? Yet it is not possible to reach a non-arbitrary decision on any matter without having some standards on which to base that decision. And there are indeed standards which are universally applicable to all human beings – derivable from the desirability of human life and flourishing, and from the mechanisms by which such values can be preserved and expanded. Among these standards are the natural rights of all humans: the right to act in the furtherance of one’s life, the right to acquire and keep property by naturally legitimate means, the right to interact with consenting others, and the right to be free from aggression, expropriation, and unwarranted punishment.

Indeed, the very definition of what constitutes an unjust harm is dependent on the principles of natural law. For instance, it is not an unjust harm if a person becomes displaced from a particular field of work because technological advances by others rendered that field of work obsolete. Because the technological advances and their creators did not rob, injure, kill, threaten, or defraud anyone, they are in complete accord with justice. The people displaced from their jobs may be worse off temporarily, but they always have an opportunity to retrain themselves in a society that respects their rights. Moreover, because they did not have the right to hold a particular job in the first place – as such a job was the result of an agreement that requires the continuing consent of two parties – they lost nothing to which they were entitled. On the other hand, it may be salutary from the standpoint of voluntary, private morality for the employers of such displaced individuals to offer to support their re-training or to aid them in finding alternate jobs.

But the universal standards of natural law are not the standards used by egalitarian justice; rather, egalitarianism tends to develop highly concrete criteria that are applied irrespective of whether they satisfy the abstract universal principles of justice. According to the most widespread embodiments of this philosophy, everyone must be subjected to the same minutiae, in an attempt to approximate just outcomes on a society-wide level. By contrast, in true justice, universal principles are not tied to any specific set of objects, procedures, or prescriptions for concrete behaviors. Rather, each principle can only be properly applied by considering the context in which it is relevant. To say, for instance, that honesty is a universal principle does not translate into concrete mandates or prohibitions for every situation; while it may not be justified to lie in most situations, in some – including situations where an aggressor demands the truth so as to inflict harm on its basis – lying may be morally necessary. It is an unfortunate characteristic of the egalitarian thinking of our era that abstract principles often become reified into a laundry list of byzantine particulars, whose “uniform” imposition then becomes seen as synonymous with justice – to the detriment of the very principles of justice that were supposed to be advanced in the first place.

While universal moral principles do not change, there are two important aspects of the world that do change continually: (1) our knowledge and understanding of these principles and (2) the specific concretes of our existence, to which those principles need to be applied. Moral philosophy is, and should be, an ever-evolving discipline, not because there are no truths to be found, but because no one can claim to have found all the truths or to have developed all of the facets of any true idea. At the same time, new discoveries, inventions, and societal changes raise new questions and dilemmas regarding how moral principles ought to be applied. The attempt of egalitarianism to set uniform concrete norms that apply to all people in all cases stands in defiance of the dynamic context in which we live and strive to fathom justice and reality. Egalitarianism, even based on the best effort to integrate the most advanced knowledge and the most rational thinking currently available, freezes justice in time and cuts off the prospects for a variety of innovative approaches that often occur simultaneously with one another within different subsets of any given society.

Because of the complexity of individual circumstances, every concrete norm, applied too broadly, will harm some innocent people. Particular, principled, context-specific justice would avoid this problem by being flexible with respect to concrete norms. For this, the discretion of the entity that dispenses justice is of foremost importance. Without discretion, no deviation from a concrete norm is possible – and, consequently, there is no way to avert innocent suffering. Discretion by a reasonable intelligent person, however, can avoid all of the obvious harms of a given norm – and the most competent and scrupulous dispensers of justice can even structure remedies so as to avoid subtle and indirect harms. Discretion should not be unlimited, and its exercise should be allowed in such a manner as would not extend the authority of the dispenser of justice beyond its intended sphere. Moreover, every care should be taken to prevent such discretion from resulting in draconian outcomes. But the limits imposed upon discretion should never prevent contextually warranted leniency or experimentation with remedies that are more palatable to all parties involved than those suggested by precedent or tradition.

To apply a general principle properly to a given situation, knowledge of the situation is crucial. The difference between true justice and egalitarian justice is akin to the difference between two applications of the principle of healthy eating: one approach makes choices regarding the nutritional value of every particular item of food one encounters, in the context in which one encounters it, while the other approach develops in advance a “diet” that consists of context-independent prohibitions on certain foods and requirements for certain other foods. Following a sub-optimal strategy for healthy eating may still make one healthier on net and, in that case, is not perilous. But this is because the individual is the basic moral unit; actions that benefit an individual on net while causing some discomfort, inconvenience, or inefficiency to that individual are therefore acceptable. But there can be no legitimate consideration of what benefits “society on net” which disregards harms to any individuals that occur in the process. Society is not a moral unit, and harms to its “components” cannot be brushed aside as necessary to advance an ostensibly greater goal.

Of course, for particular, principles-based justice to be applied to any systematic extent, both prevailing legal systems and moral understandings would need to change; the latter change would most likely need to precede the former, at least among the people who can affect the legal systems. Egalitarian justice attempts to treat particular situations independently of context or consequences; such treatment cannot be reconciled with the principles of justice. True justice encounters reality directly and infuses into it improvements – protections for the innocent, punishments for the guilty, and a closer approximation of a society where natural law is obeyed and the principle of merit is reflected.

Read other articles in The Rational Argumentator’s Issue CCXLIV.

Free PDF of «Смерть неправильна!» – Russian Translation of “Death is Wrong”

Free PDF of «Смерть неправильна!» – Russian Translation of “Death is Wrong”

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
June 28, 2014
******************************

A free PDF version of «Смерть неправильна!» – the Russian translation of Death is Wrong – is now available for download from The Rational Argumentator. You can obtain your copy here and may spread it to Russian-speaking audiences as widely as you wish.

«Смерть неправильна!» was translated into Russian by Marcus Baylin.

cover_final_russian_6x9

«Смерть неправильна!» – Russian Translation of “Death is Wrong” – Translated by Marcus Baylin – Post by G. Stolyarov II

«Смерть неправильна!» – Russian Translation of “Death is Wrong” – Translated by Marcus Baylin – Post by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
June 27, 2014
******************************

cover_final_russian_6x9The Russian translation of Death is Wrong – «Смерть неправильна!» – generously translated by Marcus Baylin – is now available via Google Books. You can see a complete preview here.

A paperback version can be obtained from Createspace for $11.23 here.

Amazon has begun to carry the paperback version here.

For some reason, the Amazon Kindle format does not yet support Cyrillic characters, so I have instead decided to offer an electronic version through Google Play.

The electronic version will be downloadable for FREE on Google Play within the next 24 hours on this page.

You have my permission to spread the electronic version of the book to Russian-speaking audiences as widely as possible, with no strings attached.

We can also send some free paperback Russian books to anyone who is willing to distribute them to Russian-speaking children. (This offer is good while supplies last; we have resources to ship 171 copies of Death is Wrong in either English or Russian. If you are interested, e-mail me at gennadystolyarovii@gmail.com with (i) your name, (ii) your MAILING ADDRESS, (iii) your support for indefinite life extension, (iv) the NUMBER OF COPIES of Death is Wrong requested, and (v) your plan for spreading the books to children, free of cost to them.)

“Death is Wrong” – Book Distribution and Call to Action – May 28, 2014 – Video by G. Stolyarov II

“Death is Wrong” – Book Distribution and Call to Action – May 28, 2014 – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Mr. Stolyarov provides an update regarding the effort to distribute over 1,000 free, paperback copies of Death is Wrong to children.

As of May 28, 2014, 644 books have been sent out, and 385 remain to be distributed, out of an eventual goal of 1,029 books provided to children, free of cost to them.

Instructions for Longevity Activists to Request Copies of “Death is Wrong”

– Send an e-mail to gennadystolyarovii@gmail.com

– Provide (i) your name, (ii) your mailing address, (iii) a statement of your support for indefinite life extension, and (iv) a brief description of your plan to spread the book to children in your local area. Remember that all copies received pursuant to this initiative would need to be offered to children free of charge (as gifts or reading opportunities) and may not be resold.

– Provide the number of copies of Death is Wrong that you are requesting.

– Preferably, provide an indication that you would be willing to send photographs of the books that have been delivered to you as well as events where you will be distributing the books.

References
Death is Wrong on Amazon:
* Paperback version
* Kindle version
Death is Wrong Official Home Page
– “Spreading the Word That Death is Wrong” – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II
Updates Regarding Book-Distribution Effort
– Death is Wrong Book Trailer – Video by Peter Caramico

Eternal Life Fan Club Review of “Death is Wrong” – Article and Graphic by Roen Horn

Eternal Life Fan Club Review of “Death is Wrong” – Article and Graphic by Roen Horn

The New Renaissance Hat
Roen Horn
April 28, 2014
******************************
This review was originally posted on the Facebook page of the Eternal Life Fan Club, a community created by Roen Horn to share philosophy, research, and strategies to help humans increase their chances of living forever.
ELFC_Death_is_Wrong

I finally got around to reading the new transhumanist children’s book Death is Wrong. I was impressed with the simplicity and clarity of the message, and my impression was that children could easily digest the information. It’s about time there was a children’s book promoting the message of indefinite life-extension. This book should be mandatory reading in elementary schools. I was pleased to see that the book gave mention to Aubrey de Grey and SENS Research Foundation. Besides explaining the logical reasons for why death is wrong, I was delighted that the book spoke about the frailness of life and the overwhelming sadness of death. The book also specified the importance of vigilantly avoiding dangerous behaviors which would endanger one’s life, and the importance of taking care of one’s health. I think that message is especially important for young children to hear. The book leaves the reader with the optimistic outlook that death does not have to be inevitable. If we know that death is wrong, then we must wage war on death and never give up until we have won this fight. You can find the book on Amazon here.

Wendy Stolyarov, Illustrator of "Death is Wrong", at the Transhuman Visions 2.0 Conference - March 1, 2014

Wendy Stolyarov, Illustrator of Death is Wrong, at the Transhuman Visions 2.0 Conference – March 1, 2014

“Death is Wrong” Fundraiser: Another Ship Returns to Harbor after Braving the Seas for the Cause – Article by Eric Schulke

“Death is Wrong” Fundraiser: Another Ship Returns to Harbor after Braving the Seas for the Cause – Article by Eric Schulke

The New Renaissance Hat
Eric Schulke
April 26, 2014
******************************

On December 2nd of 2013, the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension began a contest for people to send in their ideas on how to spend money on outreach for the cause. The following question was asked:

If you were to receive a check in the mail with $5,000 to inform as many people as possible about the desirability and the prospects for indefinite life extension, to get them interested in the people, projects and organizations working directly or indirectly toward indefinite life extension, then how might you spend it?

Six entries were entered into a poll.

The entry with the most votes was Gennady Stolyarov’s entry to distribute 1,000 copies of his and his wife Wendy’s great new children’s book Death is Wrong. Their winning entry won them one of four books that were given away for the contest: a signed copy of The Transhumanist Wager, which was generously contributed to the project by its author, Zoltan Istvan.

A group of us put our heads together and came up with a plan to raise the money. The fundraiser was launched on February 23rd of 2014 and successfully completed on April 23rd of 2014.

It is a great success on multiple levels for the Death is Wrong book and vision in itself, which supports indefinite-life-extension research and philosophy in general, and which is written by one of the many Movement for Indefinite Life Extension leaders, Gennady Stolyarov.

It is also a great success for the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension in general on many levels. It is one of the first major projects the MILE has executed in its upcoming series of projects to work to reach 80,000 “likes” at MILE Facebook page for the Year 3 goal, which begins on July 17th 2014, and tasks us with collectively helping to achieve the group victory of moving from 8,000 likes, to 80,000 likes by the July 17th of the following year, 2015.

Rodney Ashby and Jason Shields helped us get the momentum rolling and did fundraising throughout, and Tonya Scholz gave the project a big hand. Gennady Stolyarov made an amazing media tour for the project, finding himself talking about it in interviews and getting mentions and reports from a variety of sources. Most of them are of his own arranging, some of these outlets picked the story up on their own, and there are some opportunities that I arranged. They include, but are not limited to, the following:

There were 92 contributions from over 80 individuals and one group, including, but not limited to:

There were also at least 13 anonymous donations. I did a count of all of the donors that I brought in. A close, conservative estimate is that I brought in around 70% of them.

We ended up raising $5,141, compounding on the success by $141. That means that we raised enough to distribute 29 more books than projected. Those of us that worked with this didn’t take a single dime as a cut of this. I put a hundred dollars or so in ads into it, and Wendy and Gennady have given countless hours of their time to rewarding donors. Countless others, like general activists and reporters, have put their time and resources into this. The Life Extension Foundation made an inspiring and generous $1,255 dollar donation to close the deal.

Gennady and I have already secured the distribution of 140 copies, and there are now over 1,000 total available for distribution. An order even went out to Aubrey de Grey, whose work is one of the many topics that is talked about in the book. Gennady Stolyarov writes in the Indiegogo update page that,

Update of April 16, 2014: I am delighted to announce that a shipment of 10 Death is Wrong books was made yesterday to Dr. Aubrey de Grey himself at the SENS Research Foundation. Since Dr. de Grey’s work is a crucial inspiration for Death is Wrong and my longevity activism more generally, I am immensely pleased that he has agreed to receive this shipment and make the books available for distribution.

We encourage the distribution of Death is Wrong books to places like schools, libraries, and directly to parents and children. We ask people to order as many copies as they think they may be able to give away to kids and people with kids, at Transhuman and health events, rallies, and similar events. Gennady has instructions on how to order them free of charge:

Instructions for Longevity Activists to Request Copies of Death is Wrong

– Send an e-mail to gennadystolyarovii@gmail.com

– Provide your name, your mailing address, a statement of your support for indefinite life extension, and a brief description of your plan to spread the book to children in your local area. Remember that all copies received pursuant to this initiative would need to be offered to children free of charge (as gifts or reading opportunities) and may not be resold.

– Provide the number of copies of Death is Wrong that you are requesting.

– Preferably, provide an indication that you would be willing to send photographs of the books that have been delivered to you as well as events where you will be distributing the books.

The project has been a great community effort. The Movement for Indefinite Life extension is our collective spirit, not an organization. Together we collect supporters for all of the constructive projects and organizations. There must have been over 150 people involved. More activists flexed their life-extension muscles, and we helped more people that want to get involved to take the first step. If you’ve ever saved money, then you know how incremental change adds up. You cannot achieve the saving of $8,000 unless you first get to $2,000, and $6,000, and so forth.

It’s an example of elements coming together for a movement, like this article says:

A movement occurs when, one, a large number of people have a need that, two, lines up with the necessary ingredients to make it happen, and those two things are sparked by, three, a catalyst.

The need to survive has always been here. The ingredients have been getting added to the mix since the dawn of the Scientific Revolution. The element of the love for life is in the air, thick with explosive properties, fueled by indefinite-life-extension research and outreach from around the world and across time. People are busy working on rallies, conferences, events, interviews, getting the message out, and all the rest. The tools and the ability to make this happen are ripe, and growing more and better yields of produce by the month. Every time you put a match to it, it erupts in indefinite-life-extension activism. Be that spark today and get in on this movement.

We have more projects like this ahead, and there are plenty of others to choose from in the communities, pages, groups, organizations, sites, and other venues, around the world, growing here toward that tipping point where we can have the opportunity to spill across the ticker tapes of screens and the minds of the young and old alike, lighting hearts and minds on fire with desire to chip in together to make this happen. This is an incredible opportunity, this time here, fertile with tools and insights, unleashed capabilities beyond our wildest dreams. People are already capable of tons of incredible things that you don’t even know about yet.

Columbus went on a fantastic voyage. When you think of those times, and how fulfilling and enthralling it must have been for them to be able to be part of that, realize that indefinite life extension, all this Transhumanism, is an even greater frontier, and you are in an even more incredible and glorious position than people like Columbus and his crew. It’s a position here where anybody, where you, can help sail out into these incredible frontiers that are opened up through the ever-expanding fields of science and technology.

Eric Schulke was a director at LongeCity during 2009-2013. He has also been an activist with the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension and other causes for over 13 years.

Death is Wrong - by Gennady Stolyarov II, Illustrated by Wendy Stolyarov