UnivAcc - Philosophic

Philosophic Resources

In Alchemy, the Philosopher's Stone was the ultimate goal of striving and study, of what amounted to the cutting edge of lunatic fringe technological innovation. While the transmutation of lead into gold is the most commonly cited supposed use of the Philosopher's Stone, the true aims of alchemists were much more noble than that. The reasons for the importance of transmuting lead into gold were many, but among the chief reasons were in fact philosophical in nature. Lead was considered among the most base of metals, and gold the most noble. While gold's monetary value was certainly important to alchemists, that might primarily have been due to the fact that more money meant more ability to further pursue knowledge. The name "philosopher", which roughly means "lover of knowledge", is no coincidence.

Much more central to the import of the goal of transmuting lead to gold is the fact that the true ultimate aim of alchemists was the ennoblement of life, mind, and spirit. An alchemical stone that could ennoble the basest of metals could, likewise, help ennoble the self -- or at least provide further clues in how to do so. It was not mere material greed that motivated the development of the philosopher's stone. Transmuting lead to gold was really just a step on the path toward transmuting human beings from their base, material forms to something divine, the ennoblement of man. The truth of that quest was, in short, transhuman apotheosis.

The unfortunate reality of the transhumanist quest is that we can be fairly certain there is no philosopher's stone, either literally or metaphorically. There is no silver bullet to slay the werewolves that beset us. There is no quick fix. What is needed is a combination of carefully selected priorities and hard, intelligent work. The prioritization of our efforts must be guided as a philosophical exercise, to avoid wasting time chasing down blind alleys or doing work that ultimately sets us back rather than moving us forward. Attention to the theory of singularitarian progress is in some respects more critical than dedicated hard work, because rapid movement is not helpful if it is aimed in the wrong direction.


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