A History of Extropic Thought:
Parallel Conceptual Development of Technicism and Humanism

by Reilly Jones 

Presented June 18, 1995 at Extro^2 conference in Santa Monica, CA

Cited in The Transhumanist Reader. Edited by Max More and Natash Vita-More. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.



The existence of historical knowledge is a fact of the triumph of extropy over entropy. The real Cold War is the permanent war against entropic dissolution and decoherence. We stand chilled amidst the dying embers of Western Civilization. Extropic ascent is our only option, our only hope for victory regardless of the cost. Toleration of entropy is ruination. William Shakespeare’s (1564-1616) Hamlet (1602) lives on, “To be, or not to be, that is the question: whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune; or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?” Our battleground is aesthetics and politics. Our weapons are our creativity and moral values conjoined with what we desire to preserve and our rationality. There are two and only two divisions in this war. The signifying factor is volition, either one chooses an extropic purpose in life, or one defaults to an entropic purpose. We are either aiming upward or falling downward, we are either active subject or passive object. José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) in The Revolt of the Masses (1930), tells us how to recognize the two divisions. There are “...those who make great demands on themselves, piling up difficulties and duties; and those who demand nothing special of themselves, but for whom to live is to be every moment what they already are, without imposing on themselves any effort towards perfection; mere buoys that float on the waves.”

Why Do We Have Concepts and Why So Many of Them?

The strategic battle plans that give us power over necessity and over time are comprised of concepts. We must have conceptual fuel to stoke the fire of civilization. Our conceptual capabilities go far beyond our perceptual capabilities. They do not merely categorize our immediate sensory stimulation, they categorize very general and abstract relations transcending temporality. Concepts are linked to intentionality, they tell us what we can do with things, or what things can do to us. To discover what things can do to us, we map a conceptual landscape as we experience novelty. Our maps are always incomplete, but there is no limit to creative interpretations of them. We have freedom to judge all aspects of reality using an infinitude of concepts of ever increasing refinement and versatility. Life is a struggle between seeking and avoiding surprise, recognition is the serious business of turning the novel into the ordinary, to help us know what we can do with it. Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) in The Decline of the West (1918-1922), emphasizes the centrality of concepts to our lives: “...the whole of philosophy, the whole of science, and everything that is related in any way to ‘knowing’is at the very bottom nothing but an infinitely-refined mode of applying the name-magic of the primitive to the ‘alien.’ The pronouncement of the right name (in physics, the right concept) is an incantation.”

The shared nonlinear dynamics of biological and cultural evolution prompt the usage of organic metaphors in describing our prodigious generation of concepts. Ideas divide, migrate, adhere, differentiate and die, just as cells do. Concepts are formed from perceptual categorization, learning and memory. They enter public circulation through received language and values (tradition) modified by experience. The circulatory system of concepts (and their reproduction) among social leaders largely determines the moral consensus amongst local populations. Experience is heavily weighted by vocation and locality. Thus, the genealogy of extropic concepts must be traced through time (tradition), locality and by vocation. Population growth and increased longevity lead to an expanding diversity of vocations. Vocations generate concepts abundantly. More individuals, who live longer, also produce diversity in life purposes and their accompanying worldviews. Worldviews function as conceptual attractors, with linked complex webs of concepts formed around them.

There are so many concepts linked to what can be called, very roughly, an extropic worldview, that I thought a general overview of how they were generated would be of interest. I have reviewed almost 500 historical figures as to where and when they lived, what their vocations were, and gave them a summary subjective evaluation of their contribution to an extropic worldview. My evaluations are based on my incomplete knowledge of what the extropic worldview is and the incomplete knowledge of what exactly these individuals really thought. Nevertheless, a generalized picture emerged that may not differ greatly from what others would come up with independently. [Note:  This approach and methodology may be viewed in expanded form in the Appendices to Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 BC to 1950 (2003) by Charles Murray.] In the two tables below, the areas and vocations are listed in order of oldest to newest.

Geotemporal Progression of Extropic Thought

Representative Areas

Representative Individual

Representative Years

Extropic Development

Ancient Greece


(430) - (350)


Ancient Rome


(10) - 70


Israel, Egypt, Africa


220 - 300


China, India, Iran, Arabia, Iraq, Japan


730 - 810




1470 - 1550


Spain, Portugal


1540 - 1620


France, Holland, Belgium


1700 - 1780


England, Scotland, Ireland


1740 - 1820


Germany, Switzerland, Scandanavia


1750 - 1830


Czech., Austria, Hungary, Poland


1810 - 1890




1820 - 1900


America, Canada


1880 - 1960


Genealogy of Vocations

Extropic Conceptual Development

Tending to Generate More Extropic Concepts

Tending to Generate Mixed Concepts

Tending to Generate More Entropic Concepts


Political Leaders & Statesmen

Religious Leaders


Cosmologists & Astronomers

Conquerors & Scourges













Political Theorists






Chemists & Physicists












Why Do Some Concepts Last and Others Don’t?

Evolution of Consciousness

It’s the reduction of uncertainty in the incoming stream of continuous reality that tells us somewhat of the precursors to this stream. The evolution of consciousness is accelerated as we get better at this. We increase our ability to choose more adaptive paths of action as we anticipate future dangers that would threaten our purposes. Our thought opens up technology, then technology opens up thought in a positive feedback loop. Technological obsolescence selects out unused concepts. Penetrating to the precursors to this incoming stream is what much of philosophical thought is preoccupied with. It may take centuries for populations to fully absorb a profound penetration. Knowing in advance which philosophical thoughts (in current circulation) will be absorbed or developed, is the gift of prophets. What guidelines can improve our forecasts concerning which philosophical concepts will be selected for? The mechanics of reducing uncertainty in this stream produces order from chaos; we learn to reason, to form meaningful concepts, from valuing truth. The most extropic concepts form within the conjunction of chaos and order, in the complex or liquid realm.1 Those philosophical concepts aligned most closely within the liquid realm of conjunctions, particularly those concerned with meaning, design and learning, will tend to be selected for.

Philosophical questions have always proven to be difficult, and thus have generated large numbers of concepts which are then discarded, proposed again, and discarded again because the answers lie in the evolving complex or liquid realm. Zeno of Elea’s (c.490-c.430 BC) paradoxes live on and on, our mathematics sidestep them out of practicality, by defining limits as processes, numbers as motion. Historically, metaphysics often has boiled down to adopting positions on the infinitely divisible versus the indivisible. Typical questions are: Is there change, or is there constancy? How can there be both motion and rest? How can complex substances, which are extended, be composed of simple substances which are not, since a collection of non-extensions can’t make an extension? How can our laws of physics be time reversible when history is obviously irreversible? Why do some structures appear to be definitely irreducible, when it appears that everything is indefinitely reducible? Exactly how is space different from time, or energy different from matter, or force different from mass? Typically, when a difficult liquid realm ontology is proposed, philosophical concepts splinter into the easier realms of chaos or order. For example, the liquid realm ontology of Thales (c.636-c.546 BC) (after all, he said ‘water’was fundamental), devolved into the gaseous Heraclitus (c.540-c.470) and the solid Democritus (c.460-c.370 BC). Likewise, G.W.F. Hegel’s (1770-1831) liquid realm ontology devolved into Max Stirner’s (1806-1856) vaporous nihilism and Karl Marx’s (1818-1883) icy materialist dogma. Dualism is philosophy’s perennial cop-out, the hands are thrown up and both sides are declared to exist in disjunction.


First, aesthetics generates concepts through the interplay of our creativity and imagination, the mutability of the human experience. It then helps select which concepts we desire to preserve. We preserve conceptual forms and conceptual functions because they represent a map or a memory of past peaks of meaning we have scaled on our way forward. There they are, in our rear-view mirror; where we have been, where we come from, and most of all, where we can fall back to if we run into trouble. We also see the whole terrain of human existence behind us, the ideas and artifacts still in circulation; such as Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, or Homer’s Odyssey. These are exceedingly high peaks of meaning that some portion of the population still clings to for lack of superior peaks to move off to.

There has always been a degree of aesthetic synthesis between the arts and science; the elegant formula will be remembered longer than a brute computer-evolved, cobbled formula, even though they are equivalent. History, paleontology, archeology, anthropology all are aesthetic sciences, the fixing of the human terrain in a map with imaginative legends (i.e., theories). Human desire enters in strongly here because those things worth preserving to the individual and the community tend to be recorded and fixed, from cave paintings to ceremonial burial objects to pyramids to mythology. The destruction of aesthetic forms and conceptual memory (e.g., the appalling episodes of book burning in history and the grinding up of ancient Rome’s marble monuments to make cement) are frequently attempts to lower peaks of meaning in the distance while raising the peaks in the foreground. Downplaying a past individual’s concepts and works while promoting a current individual’s material, accomplishes the same thing and is an ever-present part of the intellectual life within a civilization. Ephemeral ‘art’, such as unpublished poetry, or discarded computer graphics, is analogous to searches in conceptual valleys between peaks of meaning. Multicultural relativism that portrays all cultures as equal produces a levelling of all meaning into a featureless valley. When we make time-consuming extensive searches in concept landscapes, it becomes very difficult to keep the trail tying us to the past in sight. Loss of the past is loss of meaning. Only the past highest peaks remain visible with great passage of time, their foothills sink from view.

Scientific and Historical Methodology

There are similarities between history and science in advancing some concepts and dropping others. We purposively aim at the truth in history, and our interpretations of events must be valuable to us. If we achieve historical abstract truths with imaginative purposes in mind, emotional peaks of meaning lift up. This is the beginning of progress. Likewise, our approach to science is a rational commitment to an objective universe which presents itself to us. We only create the universe in our mind through our value-laden subjective perceptual categorizations, but then we bring these, in conceptual form, into public view within a professional community. There, a determination is made concerning which concepts will be deposited into the consensual memory that constitutes our knowledge base. Very individualized pattern recognition thus leads to complex pattern evolution by the self-organizing forces operating within science. Concepts are pruned according to our desire for truth through methods of falsifiability or verifiability.

Following (to some degree) W.V. Quine’s formulation of how scientific choices are made as to which concepts to keep and which to discard, there exists a coherent web of peripheral concepts surrounding a central core of interdefined concepts. When observations are at variance with what we predicted, we generally rearrange the exterior web of concepts far more readily than we discard the central core of concepts. Thus, falsifiability tends to function peripherally, and is identified with coherency theories of truth, with closed-system definitions, axioms and logical deductions. The central core of concepts generally have been verified through the physical mediation of technology between value-laden concepts and objective physical reality. That is to say, these central concepts either work or they don’t work; as technology develops, the central concepts develop. Thus, verifiability tends to function centrally, and is identified with correspondence theories of truth, within open systems. As Goethe (1749-1832) said in Legacy, “...only what bears fruit is true.” Spengler seconded this: “Only technics are entirely true, for here the words are merely the key to actuality, and the sentences are continually modified until they are, not ‘truth,’ but actuality. A hypothesis claims, not rightness, but usefulness.”

Metaphysical Assumptions

David Hume (1711-1776) in Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748), echoes the Taoist saying of ‘The farther you go, the less you know,’ when he discusses the roles of science and philosophy in dealing with our ignorance: “The most perfect philosophy of the natural kind [science] only staves off our ignorance a little longer: as perhaps the most perfect philosophy of the moral or metaphysical kind serves only to discover larger portions of it.” Two of our more perfect philosophers and scientists of the twentieth century, Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) and Erwin Schrödinger (1887-1961), had strong opinions about the centrality of our approach to ignorance through concept generation and selection. Whitehead said in Adventures of Ideas (1933): “No science can be more secure than the unconscious metaphysics which tacitly it presupposes. The individual thing is necessarily a modification of its environment, and cannot be understood in disjunction.... Our handling of scientific doctrines is controlled by the diffused metaphysical concepts of our epoch.” Mark Riley has written about Schrödinger: “He deplored narrow specialization and valued science as a way of synthesizing all knowledge and answering the question, ‘Who are we?’.... He considered... a goal [of description without explanation] to be banal, incapable of keeping the work of research going.... Metaphysics was for him the indispensable basis of knowledge.”2

Spengler describes something close to my own metaphysics: “There is nothing inherently absurd in the conception of a mechanical necessity wherein each individual case is morphologically self-contained and never exactly reproduced, in which therefore the acquisitions of knowledge cannot be put into consistently-valid formulœ.” This is the jump from metaphysics to biological epistemology where knowledge remains incomplete and corrigible. While individual cases are similar, they are never ‘exactly’ the same. It is why physics as well as biology will improve when simulated from first principles on ever increasingly powerful computers. Such technology helps us transcend semantic limitations (i.e., the increasingly esoteric specialization of mathematics and logic). The current computer-modelling phrase of ‘Demo or die’ is indicative of the new inner spirit of mathematics; building complex models, or ensembles, to explore preferred adaptive courses is the best we can do. No matter how sophisticated our models become, though, we still cannot escape metaphysical assumptions which always leave open paths to new conceptual development. As Whitehead in Adventures put it: “But statistics tell you nothing about the future unless you make the assumption of the permanence of statistical form.... There is no valid inference from mere possibility to matter of fact, or, in other words, from mere mathematics to concrete nature.”

General and Specialized Advancement of Knowledge

Plato’s (c.429-347 BC) allegory of the cave, that we acquire knowledge by ascending from the shadows into the light, is untrue. The truth is, we are an energy lens, shaping and directing light to our will. We acquire knowledge by directing our internal searchlight at the metaphysical unknown in search of something we can call a problem to work on. As our searchlight sweeps the metaphysical night sky, we map what reveals itself in the beam and interpret the map according to our utility of the moment. When the beam reveals a ‘problem,’ we stop to study it; in other words, we become specialists. Specialized scientific disciplines reach peaks of knowledge in the concept landscape, thrusting into ignorance, but eventually become unable to hold to the steepness of the isolated peak. To make optimal progress in the total thrust into ignorance, science needs a landscape not too smooth and not too rough. Scientists cannot all be generalists or all be specialists, some need to work in interdisciplinary fields between peaks to ameliorate the tendency towards unprofitable systematization. We wait to fill in the landscape around us before proceeding. Sometimes we step way back and re-examine the whole terrain to see where a different path might lie. What the great scientist, inventor or philosopher does, is to find different paths. In Quine’s terms, they shift the core of central concepts or basic technologies, instead of rearranging the web surrounding them. This shifting is a homeorhetic process, the honing in on a moving point in a dynamic pattern of increasing complexity. Once the central concepts or basic technologies have been shifted, the mechanical work of rearranging and developing the new web surrounding them proceeds.

The banality of science is due to its mechanical or plodding methodological nature of smoothing out rough spots in the landscape of knowledge. A very large portion of this process will eventually be turned over to an AI (artificial intelligence) program’s direction. Klaus Mainzer sees AI in the roles of: problem choosers, hypothesis generators, strategy proposers, experiment proposers, expectation setters, hypothesis modifiers, confidence modifiers, and problem generators. In Thinking in Complexity (1994), he describes the smoothing process:

Any intrinsic concept [which is value-laden], in association with the experimental arrangement that allows it to be measured, can be employed as a scientific instrument. In this case the discovery of the instrument is coincident with the discovery of the concept itself.... If the outcome of an experiment violates the expectations for it, then the study of this puzzling phenomenon is made a task, and it is added to the agenda.... Scientific discovery thus becomes a gradual process guided by problem-solving heuristics, and not by a single ‘flash of insight’ or sudden leap.3

Individuals play the roles of decision makers and experimenters.

Historical Context: Catalytic and Metabolic

Many comprehensive thinkers about historical processes have adopted an organic viewpoint of civilizational change. They have frequently developed concepts that today we think of as repeating patterns of self-organization and selection. Empedocles (c.484-c.424 BC) conceived of alternating phases of ‘love’ and ‘hate’, Lao Tzu of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’, Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) of society being governed by alternating phases of imaginative thought and abstract thought, Comte de Saint-Simon, (1760-1825) of ‘organic’ and ‘critical’ periods of civilization. Hegel viewed history as exhibiting ascending levels of consciousness, through phases of unity and disunity towards excellence and coherency. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) conceived of movement from ‘an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite, coherent heterogeneity’ through a series of ‘integrations’ and ‘differentiations.’ John Fiske (1842-1901) in Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy (1874) conceived of societies biologically evolving. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) and Spengler both spoke of evolutionary forces in society, alternating phases of ‘culture’ and ‘civilization.’ Will Durant (1885-1981) traced recurring phases of attacks on religion, followed by attempts to develop secular morality, followed by a return to religion. Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) in A Study of History (1934-1961) emphasized alternating challenges to civilization, followed by leadership’s responses.

I view living history in a catalytic and metabolic context. It is catalytic in terms of the interplay between competitive directions in the social realm and cooperative actions in the physical realm. An example of autocatalysis, is when competitive social forces achieve closure in a consensual purpose, to build a civilization through coordinated activity. It is metabolic in terms of the interplay of search and consolidation phases of consciousness’s directional evolution towards extropy. The form of one’s life follows the functions chosen in that life, so too for civilization. The achievement of a self-sustaining metabolism of an ascending civilization is essentially a design problem. Willful searches for extropic functions must be followed by consolidation of their accompanying extropic forms. When the design process fails, there is a fall-off in the level of civilization, either to ossification or to fruitless searches for utopia or mindlessness. Successful consensual purposes never entirely disappear from the conceptual terrain, they represent peaks of meaning. If the next conceptual peak found in a search phase is lower, a population may move back to the higher one, or continue the search. Progress is the movement of a population to ever higher peaks of meaning, all novel, while avoiding catastrophes.

The Purposes of Historical Study

Seeking wisdom is one of the oldest purposes of life humanity has yet chosen. The process can be viewed as expanding the core of selfhood through diachronicity, the recontextualizing of past breadth of personal and historical experiences into the present. Recent philosophers have emphasized the usefulness of broad historical understanding. Elliott Sober in Philosophy of Biology (1993) emphasizes that: “Nothing can be understood ahistorically. Of course, what this really means is that nothing can be understood completely without attending to its history.”4 This means: not concepts, not material forms, not human events. Robert Nozick in The Nature of Rationality (1993) presents an excellent reason for on-going historical learning, “One will be better able to find fruitful analogies to a problem the larger one’s stock of different intellectual structures and theories that can be drawn upon.”5

Whitehead proclaims: “Advance or Decadence are the only choices offered to mankind.... History can only be understood by seeing it as the theater of diverse groups of idealists respectively urging ideals incompatible for conjoint realization.” This strongly echoes the earlier sociological ideas of Max Weber (1864-1920) on the roots of social conflict residing in the limitless irreconcilable attitudes toward life. I have to agree, history is ultimately variations of extropic versus entropic ideals competing. Historical conflict is unavoidable so long as humans have volitional freedom. An abstract ideal that I would urge, is that we break the cycle of what I call the ‘Inchworm of History.’ This is the interminable alternating of a closed society and low culture breeding stagnation or breakdown, followed by an open society and high culture fostering bursts of progress; the to and fro of entropy and extropy. We don’t want entropy any more, not its nihilism and not its dogmatism. We want constant Periclean Greece (470s to 440s BC), Renaissance Italy (1480s to 1510s), Elizabethan England (1590s to 1620s), Federalist America (1770s to 1780s), England’s Industrial Revolution (1780s to 1800s), Germany’s Age of Goethe (1790s to 1810s), America’s Age of Invention (1880s to 1900s), and Post-WWII America (1950s).

The importance of the concept of preservation (including history and memory) involves being able to turn around and see the paths we have trod. If all were destroyed as we created the future, we would stand on a lonely pinnacle amidst incomprehensibility (no anchors, no structure, adrift with no direction). At least with history, we can stand at the edge of the future where we can see the possible ways forward and how we got to where we are standing. There is an intoxicating quality of historical ideas, I mean the original text, not editorial summaries. Seeing the trail of the origin of ideas, their modification and exemplification, provides a robust context within which we are able to judge our future courses wisely, no matter how complex, or how accelerated civilization becomes.

During bursts of conceptual progress, the process of the ‘Inchworm of History’ always leaves behind, as if washed up on shore, leading concepts that are then assimilated during a consolidation phase. Hence, we must focus our attention on the ‘best and brightest’ during the peaks of meaning, which have only occurred a few times and in a few places in history. We honor Pindar (c.518-c.438 BC), Alexander Pope (1688-1744), Goethe and all others who fight a continual rear-guard action to defend the high from the low. Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) presents a very sound argument in Culture and Anarchy (1869), that knowledge of ‘the best that has been thought and said’ can provide high standards for intellectual life, resistant to the prevailing nihilism and dogma of any age. Such consistent, grand standards act simultaneously to pull up conceptual development to its levels, and to mark the occasion when such development surpasses all previous thought.

There are no exact duplications of historical situations, yet historically successful consensual purposes remain indefinitely in the conceptual landscape. Such steadiness of purpose coupled with novel circumstances, allows us to see living patterns in history, it is a self-organizational dynamic process. Edith Hamilton (1870-1963) in The Roman Way (1932) echoes George Santayana’s (1863-1952) famous quote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” She wrote: “History repeats itself. The fact is a testimony to human stupidity.... And yet it is really a chart for our guidance-no less than that.” We do not want to keep making the same mistakes over and over, the lessons of history should prevent this neurosis. Historical knowledge cannot provide new purposes for us, only we, as unique individuals can do that; but it can help forecast the probable consequences of various proposed actions on a large scale. Truly sweeping understanding of historical situations can, at rare times, lead to prophecy, as history itself shows us numerous times.

Truth and Meaning in History

Thomas Reid (1710-1796) in Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (1785), observed that “Truth is one, but error is infinite.” Truth cannot be parcelled out of an objective universe which presents itself to us. It is whole and undivided. This is the take-off point for extropic thought, the ultimate design of reality is both historical and current, encompassing both motion and rest. To approach the whole, our thought is directed towards the boundless expansion of reason. Francis Bradley (1846-1924) in Appearance and Reality (1893) argues this explicitly: “Truth is the predication of such content as, when predicated, is harmonious, and removes inconsistency and with it unrest. And because the given reality is never consistent, thought is compelled to take the road of indefinite expansion.” We must expand out of our subjective interior world and go to meet the truth. This one quest alone will occupy eternity. Ortega y Gasset in What is Philosophy? (1960), addresses the prerequisite of this quest, “Truth descends only on him who tries for it, who yearns for it, who carries within himself, pre-formed, a mental space where the truth may eventually lodge.”

Pierre Bayle (1647-1705) knew that the knowledge of past historical catastrophes and human lies are necessary to escape them. Progress is made through relentless critical reasoning, what is left over is historical and conceptual meaning that is resistant to skeptical attack. In his Historical and Critical Dictionary (1692-1702) he raised a prototype of pancritical rationalism to an art form. Vico in his epochal New Science(1725-1744), brought two major extropic strands of thought into being. The first is that historical human nature itself is mutable, and not eternal as was previously thought. Natural law, as a result, is a fiction when purported to be eternal and deductive; contingent and inductive methods work best with the broadest perspectives possible on historical events. The second is that the formation and persistence of consensual purposes and intellectual vocations expresses the progression of meaning in history. Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) in The Spirit of Laws (1748) also viewed human nature as mutable. He formulated the idea that any government must be structured in harmony with the given society’s consensual purposes, in order to secure liberty under many different historically contingent situations. His work was cited more frequently by far than any single other source (except for the Bible) by the framers of the American Constitution.

History was described by Johann von Herder (1744-1803) as the education of humanity; that is, piling up memories, factual events, to be interpreted by each new generation according to new perceptual categorizations. It is learning proceeding at a civilizational level. History was described by Hegel as the self-organized boundless expansion of Spirit (or consensual reality), ‘the progress of the consciousness of freedom.’ Goethe described history as ‘living nature.’ Ortega y Gasset derived ‘vital reason’ (as opposed to ‘pure reason’) from history, giving meaning to the reality of human life. Richard Tarnas in The Passion of the Western Mind (1991), has recently astutely observed that, “Many sense that the great determining force of our reality is the mysterious process of history itself, which in our century has appeared to be hurtling toward a massive disintegration of all structures and foundations, a triumph of the Heraclitean flux.”6 Spengler hits upon a historical truth about where to find the strength, or dynamic optimism, for creating an extropic culture from out of this deconstructed flux. He points to pre-19th century customs, i.e., individual physical expressions of inherited high culture, or “...forms which grew and were not made. Every remnant of them, however tiny, that has kept itself alive in the being of any self-contained minority whatever will before long rise to incalculable values and bring about historical effects which no one yet imagines to be possible.

Loss of Meaning in Historical Value-Fact Split

The ‘massive disintegration of all structures and foundations’ has been slowly occurring since the peak of historical meaning in the Renaissance. The decline in meaning is due to the disjunction between those inventing purposes and those pursuing truth. Erasmus (1466-1536) started this split from the humanism side by emphasizing study of the classics for their moral and literary excellence. His high status in the humanist movement contributed to future humanists devaluing empirical science. The value-fact split (the odd notion that science deals only with morally neutral, valueless or objective facts) was hardened on the technicism side by Galileo (1564-1642). His blind emphasis on ‘objective’ observation and measurement without giving due weight to the role of consciousness in the scientific method or to the strictly vocational nature of science, may have helped discourage ideological contamination early on, but the negative effects have been cumulatively demoralizing within Western Civilization.

The end result of the value-fact split since Erasmus and Galileo is what C.P. Snow (1905-1980) in Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (1959) called the ‘two cultures’ of science and the arts, neither of which can understand the other. Allan Bloom in The Closing of the American Mind (1987), scathingly points out the devastating effects that the value-fact split had on the coherency of the mission of the university in shaping the future: “It turned out that natural science had nothing to say about human things, about the uses of science for life or about the scientist.... The result has been two continuous and ill-assorted strands of thought about man, one tending to treat him essentially as another of the brutes, without spirituality, soul, self, consciousness, or what have you; the other acting as though he is not an animal or does not have a body.”7

The extreme specialization in our incoherent universities has handicapped Western Civilization; preparation for the future without an aim is following the policy of ‘steady as she drifts.’ As Ortega y Gasset in Revolt wrote: “The specialist ‘knows’ very well his own tiny corner of the universe; he is radically ignorant of all the rest. We shall have to say that he is a learned ignoramus...” The culturally illiterate in science are morally crippled and the scientifically illiterate and mathematically innumerate in the arts are rationally crippled. They both should qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), that statist spoils system for preferred parking spaces. John Brockman in The Third Culture (1995) suggests that the synthesis of science and the arts is to dumb down science to reach the rationally challenged humanist.8 We already have gone from high culture to low culture to reach the morally challenged technicist. Meaning is declining because we are not learning, life is going out from us, we don’t want the suffering that accompanies learning. Why suffer, why learn, when science tells us there is no purpose (or value) in the universe and the humanities tells us there is no truth (or fact) in the universe? The extropic solution is not a ‘Third Culture’ of mediocre pop science drifting through a humanities wasteland, but to raise both sides to new heights. A new high culture must be built up and defended from attack by philistinism. Rigorous emphasis must be placed in education on extended mathematical and scientific training. Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936) in The Tragic Sense of Life (1913), pointed out that it is “...the duty of the people to rise to science and through science rise to higher levels still, to new and profounder aspirations.”

Gain of Meaning Through Conjunction of Art and Science

The conjunction of humanism and technicism is closely linked to adaptability, design, and meaning. All are related to expanding consensual reality through increasing conceptual connections and trust between greater and greater numbers of individuals. There have been great individuals who were able to synthesize art and science, such as Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Goethe and Santayana. But we want this synthesis to occur broadly throughout the human population. Spengler first defines our quest for meaning and knowledge, “All modes of comprehending the world may, in the last analysis, be described as Morphology.” Then he predicts the outcome of our quest with uncanny accuracy: “The final issue to which the Faustian wisdom tends... is the dissolution of all knowledge into a vast system of morphological relationships.... An infinitesimal music of the boundless world-space -that is the deep unresting longing of this soul...” He is referring here to the interdisciplinary linkage of all scientific and technical knowledge, in combination with everything worth preserving on the humanities side, all connected through hypertext in cyberspace! All human knowledge available on demand to everyone, this was one of the original aims of Western Culture.

What drives us to complete this massive program? It is the desire to extend empirical scientific methods towards modelling complex human intentionality and recognition strategies (i.e., volition, perception, learning and memory). We are gaining confidence yearly that a conjunction between humanism and technicism is achievable. Mainzer in Complexity points directly to this: “Synergetic principles (among others) provide a heuristic scheme to construct models of nonlinear complex systems in the natural sciences and the humanities. If these models can be mathematized and their properties quantified, then we get empirical models which may or may not fit the data.” Spengler prophesied that when we have applied complexity theory and synergetics (what he termed ‘physiognomic science’), to every specialized field of scientific reductionism, the vital wellspring of specifically Western science will exhaust itself and a new culture will arise.

The natural dead-end of skeptical rationalism that evolves from a value-fact split, leads to a generalized loss of vocation. In the end, criticism in the form of unrelenting reductionism, eats itself up and leaves nothing (philosophically known as Pyrrhonism). This is why Nietzsche in The Will to Power (1901), pronounced that: “Socrates represents a moment of the profoundest perversity in the history of values.... -Shrewdness, clarity, severity and logicality as weapons against the ferocity of the drives. These must be dangerous and threaten destruction: otherwise there would be no sense in developing shrewdness to the point of making it into a tyrant.” But our drives are our freedom, our offense against necessity. This is why he concludes that, “We possess art lest we perish of the truth.” Scientific descriptions of facts with no explanation and humanistic abandonment of causality and evidence, produces civilizational bankruptcy. The loss of vocation is related to the loss of dignity, contempt of authority, loss of self-control and loss of respect for others characteristic of the post-modern mind. Too many individuals act without thinking, with random consequences. Likewise, to talk or think without acting is nothingness. This is the shift from Socrates’s (c.469-399 BC) ‘knowledge is virtue’ to Francis Bacon’s (1561-1626) ‘knowledge is power.’ To really be alive and ‘in form,’ one must think out and talk out a direction, then follow it up with action; this is a vocation, and this produces a meaningful life. To set and pursue extravagant goals, one tacitly acknowledges that value (that is to say, purpose) exists in the universe.

Definitions: Humanism and Technicism

Humanism is linked to the concepts of chaos, search for novelty, perceptual categorization, imagination, exploration and the metaphysical bridge between subjective reality and consensual reality. Humanism is concerned with directing energy jointly in space, the striving towards extropy through living. Nietzsche in Power , describes humanism’s role in directing energy, “...the essential thing in the life process is precisely the tremendous shaping, form-creating force working from within which utilizes and exploits ‘external circumstances’-” Plato and Goethe are representatives of the philosophy of humanism. My definition of humanism is: Social (consensual) mediation between subjective self and objective nature evolving in the direction of their conjunction by means of sharing and remembering human purposes used to evaluate truth (interpreting maps of objective nature) and as a catalyst for approaching ever closer to truth (improving maps of objective nature). The concepts, values, languages, dreams and purposes created by humanity, that originated in the vital impulses of life, in a passionate expenditure of precious time, are venerated by placing them into the worldwide web of memory. We honor the living history of antiquity to learn the meaning of the ascending characteristics present in humanity. Mark Twain (1835-1910) humorously illustrated our distinguishing advantage over the lower animals: “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”

Technicism is linked to the concepts of order, consolidation (turning novelty into the ordinary), memory, abstraction, discovery and the metaphysical bridge between consensual reality and objective reality. Technicism is concerned with arranging matter in time, understanding applied to developing new forms of existence. Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) are representatives of the philosophy of technicism. My definition of technicism is: Physical (mechanical) mediation between subjective self and objective nature evolving in the direction of their conjunction by means of better approximation of truth (improving maps of objective nature) and as a catalyst for enriching evaluations of truth (interpreting maps of objective nature). The root of technicism is traced back to Plato: “Art, conceived generally as techné, presupposes a knowing and a making: knowing the end to be aimed at and the best means for achieving the end.... In short, all making is a kind of imitation; all that... men may create is the re-presentation of a vision in a material medium.”9 This is the function-design-form sequence. Humanism supplies the vision or the functions and initiates the design process. Technicism supplies the knowledge of what designs result in which forms. Technicism is thus both science and technology. Donald Cardwell in The Norton History of Technology (1995) concludes that: “...in the last resort technology and science are aspects of the same thing. They constitute the inseparable procedures by which we attempt to understand and to control the natural world for the benefit and, ultimately, for the survival of humanity.”10

Whitehead concisely sums up technicism:

The essence of technology is to enable mankind to transcend such limitations of unguided nature [i.e., catastrophes].... The laws of nature are nothing else than the observed identities of pattern persisting throughout the series of comparative observations. Thus a law of nature says something about things observed and nothing more. The pre-occupation of science is then the search for simple statements which in their joint effect will express everything of interest concerning the observed recurrences. This is the whole tale of science, that and nothing more.

The role technicism plays in developing new forms of existence make it the unambiguous source of what is commonly understood as ‘progress.’ The greatest symbol of progress, our machines, are useful to us in directing the world according to our will, they grant us more and more power to expand. Spengler captures the essence of this feeling of expansive technological power:

This is the outward- and upward-straining life-feeling.... The intoxicated soul wills to fly above space and Time. An ineffable longing tempts him to indefinable horizons. Man would free himself from the earth, rise into the infinite, leave the bonds of the body, and circle in the universe of space amongst the stars.

Conceptual History: Humanism and Technicism

There are many individuals in history whose thoughts and lives are worthy of our continuing study and admiration. I have judiciously selected a few on both the humanism side and technicism side of life, to exemplify important transitional links to current extropic thought. To begin with early humanist thought, I would recount the mottoes of the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece, as inscribed in the Delphian Temple. Their combined wisdom is as appropriate today as it was 2,600 years ago. “Know thyself”-Solon. “Consider the end.”-Chilo. “Know thy opportunity.”-Pittacus. “Most men are bad.”-Bias. “Nothing is impossible to industry.”-Periander. “Avoid excess.”-Cleobulus. “Suretyship is the precursor of ruin.”-Thales. Plutarch’s (c.46-c.120) Parallel Lives (c.100) is still an invaluable study of moral choice and character, examining the consequences of great leaders’s actions. To understand the conceptual precursors to the idea of progress, an examination of Origen’s (c.185-c.254) theory of continuous creation and his ideas on the primacy of rationality in our ability to choose between good and evil, and of Pelagius’s (c.360-c.420) emphasis on free will and self-control, is fruitful. Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) profoundly analyzed the consequences of the eternal nature of our drives and the infinite nature of our purposes. Because we willfully ignore the limits to our hopes, our societies will always be subject to intense struggles. Michelangelo’s (1475-1564) work is a continuing cultural high point, a peak of meaning, to which we can always climb to restore our sense of the invaluable worth of the individual and the inherent dignity of humanity.

William Blake (1757-1827) fought all his life against too much order, reason, abstraction and the tyranny of socially imposed facts. He wanted to cleanse the ‘doors of perception,’ to break the ‘mind-forg’d manacles’ on our imagination that our desire for order imposes. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) stands as the clearest expression of humanist extropic thought between Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) and Nietzsche (who was influenced by him). It is amazing to read Emerson and find so much of his thought and values still current in America’s intellectual tradition. An archetypal extropic thought is from Fate (The Conduct of Life) (1860):

But the lightning which explodes and fashions planets, maker of planets and suns, is in [man].... Forever wells up the impulse of choosing and acting in the soul. Intellect annuls Fate. So far as a man thinks, he is free.... Thought dissolves the material universe by carrying the mind up into a sphere where all is plastic.... No statement of the Universe can have any soundness which does not admit its ascending effort.... Behind every individual closes organization; before him opens liberty,-the Better, the Best.... Liberation of the will from the sheaths and clogs of organization which he has outgrown, is the end and aim of this world.... Every solid in the universe is ready to become fluid on the approach of the mind, and the power to flux it is the measure of the mind. If the wall remain adamant, it accuses the want of thought. To a subtle force it will stream into new forms, expressive of the character of the mind.

Like Blake, Henri Bergson (1859-1941) was repelled by the sterility of mechanistic thought. He, too, was completely taken with the uniqueness of each individual and their creative infinitude. He said in Creative Evolution (1907), “To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” Unamuno carved out a unique niche in extropic thought by focusing on physical immortality in Tragic:

The visible Universe, the one created by the instinct of self-preservation, strikes me as too narrow. It is like an over-small cage against whose bars my soul beats its wings. I need more air to breathe: more, more, always more! I want to be myself and, without ceasing to be myself, to be others as well, to encompass the totality of all things visible and invisible, to extend myself to the limitless in space and prolong myself to the endless in time. Not to be everything and not be it forever is the same as not being at all. At least let me be altogether myself and be so forever. And to be altogether myself is to be all others. All or nothing!.... I do not want to die. No! I do not want to die, and I do not want to want to die. I want to live always, forever and ever.... I came into the world to create my self.... We want the substance, not the shadow, of eternity!... But it would be only will-less and supine to deny our longing for immortality because it appears to have been proved that we can not be immortal -without verifying that proof.

Of course, no proof is ever enough.

Post-WWII humanist thought has been nicely condensed by Richard Tarnas in his chapter on the postmodern mind and his epilogue from Passion:

The human spirit does not merely prescribe nature’s phenomenal order; rather, the spirit of nature brings forth its own order through the human mind when that mind is employing its full complement of faculties-intellectual, volitional, emotional, sensory, imaginative, aesthetic, epiphanic. In such knowledge, the human mind ‘lives into’ the creative activity of nature. Then the world speaks its meaning through human consciousness. Then human language itself can be recognized as rooted in a deeper reality, as reflecting the universe’s unfolding meaning.... Yes, knowledge of the world is structured by the mind’s subjective contribution; but that contribution is teleologically called forth by the universe for its own self-revelation.

To begin with early technicist thought, the premier representative of ancient Greece was Archimedes (c.298-212 BC). His military and hydraulic inventions astounded his contemporaries and his advanced work in geometry was not surpassed until modern calculus was developed. Da Vinci developed the first systematic thought on aviation, in addition to many wide-ranging areas of study. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) revived the ideas of Aristarchus (c.310-230 BC) with his heliocentric theory in De Revolutionibus (1543). This launched the greatest reappraisal of humanity’s position in the universe yet seen, we are fundamentally different individuals than before this conceptual revolution. A pivotal point in extropic thought came with Bacon’s Novum Organum (1620). He articulated the technical will-to-power at the beginning of an explosion of technological progress. In its Aphorisms, he states that, “Knowledge and human power are synonymous, since the ignorance of the cause frustrates the effect; for nature is only subdued by submission...” Isaac Newton (1643-1727) produced the Principia Mathematica (1687), a masterpiece that ushered in the deterministic feeling that humanity could discover and predict just about everything of importance. Gottfried von Leibniz (1646-1716), along with Newton, invented modern calculus and pointed towards symbolic logic, he even argued the relativity of space, time and motion.

Charles Babbage (1792-1841) designed and built an ‘analytical engine,’ precursor to today’s computers, and in On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures (1833),also proposed an early form of Operations Research. Michael Faraday (1791-1867) developed the concept of lines of force from his series of outstanding experiments in the phenomenon of electromagnetism. James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) accepted this concept because of the success of the experiments and developed modern field theory. Ludwig Boltzmann (1844-1906) developed the kinetic theory of gases and did much to develop the field of thermodynamics. He even made suggestions as to how a local increase in complexity is possible amongst a sea of entropy by describing concepts similar to autocatalysis and metabolism.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) formulated the theory of general relativity and the equivalence of energy and mass. This led directly to the development of nuclear weapons capable of destroying all humanity in a general conflagration. In its own way, this is leading to as great a change in the way humanity sees itself as the Copernican revolution did. The linear model of ethics, which says that in the area of our social actions, for similar causes there are similar effects, is void. Our individual behavior has nonlinear effects on not just our immediate surroundings, but possibly, under unstable, unpredictable conditions, on everyone. It is analogous to the butterfly effect, one individual’s minor action can loose expanding harmful consequences up to and including mass destruction. Work on political theories based on nonlinear ethical models using intentional dynamics, is in its infancy. We have never needed such models previously, and we have never had the computing power or experimental methods to model them in any case. John von Neumann (1903-1957) deserves special mention as one of the last great generalists in science. His range of interests was impressive, from game theory in 1944, to computer science, to quantum mechanics to interdisciplinary models in social sciences. He was a leader in developing ideas of nonlinear self-organization and self-reproduction through the theory of cellular automata. Claude Shannon in 1948 developed information theory for applications to communications technology, a seminal step on the way to what has widely been termed the Information Age.


The mythological root of extropy can be seen in Æschylus’s (c.525-456 BC) story of Prometheus. As Toynbee tells it in History:

Whereas Zeus has no other wish than to preserve his position in a static eternity, Prometheus is an insatiable creator, a kindler of fire, a probing progressive mind-a mythical personification of the growth process, the Bergsonian Élan vital. Failing to convince Zeus by power of reason that his static Universe is not a world at peace but a desert, Prometheus sets the will of Zeus at defiance, and leads Mankind onward and upward, inspiring his protagé and pupil with his own spirit.

The intellectual root of extropy, like so many central concepts, is traced back to where Plato, in The Republic Book VI, describes the Form of Good:

Now, this power, which supplies the objects of real knowledge with the truth that is in them, and which renders to him who knows them the faculty of knowing them, you must consider to be the essential Form of Good, and you must regard it as the origin of science, and of truth, so far as the latter comes within the range of knowledge: and though knowledge and truth are both very beautiful things, you will be right in looking upon good as something distinct from them, and even more beautiful.

Pursuit of the Good requires years of training in mathematics and logic, it is an intellectual vocation. The Good is akin to extropic purpose, the arrow of living creation, it is what explains the coherence and intelligibility of our world. It combines recognition, perspective, information, judgment, context and meaning. Conversely, entropic purpose points toward decoherence and unintelligibility. For Democritus, motion is the highest conception in explaining our world. For Plato, the Good or the source of value is the highest conception. But value is derived from purpose which is essentially coherent or decoherent motion; this synthesis of Democritus and Plato is what Whitehead referred to, in his process philosophy, as ‘the value realized in [a concrete] event.’

Another early conceptual forerunner of extropy is Aristotle’s inner drive of organisms called entelechy. It is the form that matter is pulled into, ultimately by the uncaused cause. Entelechy is the a priori form that self-organization processes lead up to. Kinesis is the development that moves an organism from potency (dynamis) to actuality (energeia). The role of historical selectional forces was absent, but the hierarchical and cumulative nature of life development was articulated. An organism’s urge and direction of growth to its destined form was referred to as its primary entelechy, or soul (psyche). Following Aristotle, there have been many conceptions related to an inner drive, or a vital force that differentiates animate from inanimate matter. Galen (c.130-c.200) and Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) conceived of a facultas formatrix. Leibniz formulated his ‘monads’ imbued with subjectivity and described the mechanistic (non-vitalistic) form of organization that brings unity to a living system, as entelechy. Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) referred to a ‘life force’ and Goethe called it Gestaltung. Vitalism in the 19th and 20th centuries was prominently represented by the biologist Hans Driesch (1867-1941) and Bergson. Driesch used entelechy again, this time to refer to the force which guides the development of an embryo. Driesch properly transformed the term from Aristotle‘s ahistoric conception to an active principle, from a pulling force to a pushing force. Driesch thought of vitalism as being the theory of the autonomy of the process of life. Bergson first accepted Charles Darwin’s (1809-1882) and Spencer’s version of mechanistic evolution but decided in Creative Evolution, that the evolution of life was better explained by a Promethean impulse, the élan vital, which is continuously developing.

The vitalist ideas of a special force gave way to various conceptions of ‘order from disorder’. The biologist Richard Woltereck called the natural trend towards emergent forms of increasing complexity ‘anamorphosis’. L.L. Whyte called the fundamental principle of the development of pattern the ‘morphic principle’. C.J. Herrick in The Evolution of Human Nature (1961) noted the evolutionary trend towards ‘spontaneously developing states of greater heterogeneity and complexity’. This description was very similar to Spencer’s earlier conception. The author of General Systems Theory (1968), Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901-1972), also adopted the term ‘anamorphosis’. Much of this history of the development of the concept of extropy was chronicled by Arthur Koestler (1905-1983) in his book Janus (1978):

It was in fact a physicist, not a biologist, the Nobel laureate Erwin Schrödinger, who put an end to the tyranny of the Second Law with his celebrated dictum: ‘What an organism feeds on is negative entropy.’ [in What is Life? (1944) pg. 72] In a similar vein, the veteran biologist and Nobel prize winner Albert Szent-Györgyi proposed to replace ‘negentropy’, and its negative connotations, by the positive term syntropy , which he defines as an ‘innate drive in living matter to perfect itself’. He also called attention to its equivalent on the psychological level as ‘a drive towards synthesis, towards growth, towards wholeness and self-perfection’ [in Synthesis (Spring 1974)].

R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983), in Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975) referred to ‘anti-entropy.’ Ilya Prigogine won the Nobel in 1977 for showing how order could increase in dissipative systems far from thermodynamic equilibrium. There may be a strong psychological component underlying the recurrent proto-extropy conceptions, particularly in the areas of growth and limitations. Johann von Schiller (1759-1805), in Das Kind in der Wiege wrote, “Happy child! the cradle is still to thee a vast space; but when thou art a man the boundless world will be too small for thee.”


In the first half of 1988, Max More and Tom Morrow had been discussing political liberty, removal of spatio-temporal restraints, overcoming limits to intelligence, taking self-control of our cognitive, emotional, and physical constitution, and complexity. These values and concepts were self-evidently in opposition to entropy. Tom Morrow coined ‘extropy’ as its etymological opposite and Max More derived ‘extropian’ from it.11 Throughout the 1990’s, advances in science have provided an increasingly sophisticated understanding of how order arises from chaos continuously and cumulatively. Hermann Haken in The Science of Structure: Synergetics (1984) outlined a more rigorous experimental scientific program than Fuller’s earlier conceptual work. Scott Kelso in Dynamic Patterns (1995) pays tribute to Haken’s extropic concepts:

...the brain is fundamentally a pattern-forming, self-organized, dynamical system poised on the brink of instability. By operating near instability, the brain is able to switch flexibly and quickly among a large repertoire of spatio-temporal patterns. It is, I like to say, a ‘twinkling’ system, creating and annihilating patterns according to the demands placed on it. When the brain switches, it undergoes a nonequilibrium phase transition, which according to Haken’s theory, is the basic mechanism of self-organization in nature.12

The promise of complexity theory and synergetics in pointing ways to more and more complexity cannot be understated. Mainzer explains that the main idea of synergetics “...is that the emergence of global states in complex systems can be explained by the evolution of (macroscopic) interactions of the system’s elements in learning strategies far from thermal equilibrium.” Complexity theory, through the mathematics of nonlinear dynamical equations, leads to fresh perspectives of our uniqueness and free will. Mainzer outlines the cause of increasing structures of order from disorder:

...the degrees of increasing complexity are defined by the increasing bifurcations which lead to chaos as the most complex and fractal scenario. Each bifurcation illustrates a possible branch of solution for the nonlinear equation. Physically, they denote phase transitions from a state of equilibrium to new possible states of equilibria. If equilibrium is understood as a state of symmetry, then phase transition means symmetry breaking which is caused by fluctuational forces.

What are these ‘fluctuational forces’? Manfred Schroeder in Fractals, Chaos, Power Laws (1991) points out:

...the curious fact that the tiniest distinctions- the differences between rational and irrational numbers and, among the irrational numbers, between normal and nonnormal numbers- make a decisive difference in the final state of a numerical iteration.... More specifically, two different initial conditions of a physical system that are completely indistinguishable by any finite measurement precision will sooner or later lead to a total divergence as the system evolves in time or space.13

What good are these unmeasurable ‘fluctuational forces’? Mainzer shows just how valuable they are:

The complex system approach shows a great variety of possible evolutions with unexpected directions, caused by stochastic fluctuations. There is no global optimizer, no global utility function, no global selection function, no other simplified strategy of evolution but successive instabilities near bifurcation points. In short, Darwin’s view is only a particular aspect of evolution.

So evolution is open-ended and driven by unmeasurable events! This means that new systems of evolution (Darwin’s version being a mere subset) and new selectional systems capable of adaptation (such as the brain, immune system and genomic system) are open to our creative design capabilities. There is no end in sight to localized extropy under this scenario.


There have always been individuals who have keenly sensed the nearness of entropic processes. From earliest times, there have been myths that humanity is in a wound-down state (e.g., from the ‘big-bang’), declining from a ‘golden age.’ The impetus to return to ‘ancient wisdom’ and lost immortality by winding-up, through the means of progress, is our oldest meme-set.14 In ancient Greece, Xenophanes (c.570-475 BC) wrote, “The gods indeed did not reveal everything to mortals from the beginning; but men search, and in time they find out better.” Such an early conception of intellectual progress, was the precursor to all later scientific thought. In ancient Rome, Lucretius (c.95-55 BC) wrote in The Nature of Things (60 BC) Book V, “Thus time by degrees brings each several thing forth before men’s eyes and reason raises it up into the borders of light; for things must be brought to light one after the other and in due order in the different arts, until these have reached their highest point of development.” This was an early conception that technology is obviously progressive. We are tool-using animals, our evolution is tied inextricably to increasingly sophisticated tools to produce what we will to create. All facets of society progress with the creation of technological tools for us to transform our thoughts into reality; sociologically, aesthetically and materially.

Numerous Enlightenment figures such as Bacon in The Advancement of Learning (1605), and Denis Diderot (1713-1784) in the ground-breaking Encyclopédie (1751-1776), made the case that expanding our scientific knowledge base would result in technological improvements in human lives. A splendid example of proto-extropian principles is this quote by the Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794) from The Progress of the Human Mind (1795),

In fine, may it not be expected that the human race will be meliorated by new discoveries in the sciences and the arts, and, as an unavoidable consequence, in the means of individual and general prosperity; by farther progress in the principles of conduct, and in moral practice; and lastly, by the real improvement of our faculties, moral, intellectual and physical, which may be the result either of the improvement of the instruments which increase the power and direct the exercise of those faculties, or of the improvement of our natural organization itself?

The truest observation about progress I have seen made, based on my own personal experience, is attributed to Samuel Butler (1835-1902), an English satirist and evolutionary theorist who said, “All progress is based upon a universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income.”

Spengler’s analysis of the historical nature of the concept of progress, penetrates to the core of Western Civilization:

The conception of mankind as an active, fighting, progressing whole is (and has been since Joachim of Floris and the Crusades) so necessary an idea for us that we find it hard indeed to realize that it is an exclusively Western hypothesis.... The overcoming of resistances may far more justly be called the typical impulse of the Western soul. Activity, determination, self-control, are postulates. To battle against the comfortable foregrounds of life, against the impressions of the moment, against what is near, tangible and easy, to win through to that which has generality and duration and links past and future-these are the sum of all Faustian imperatives from earliest Gothic to Kant and Fichte, and far beyond them again to the Ethos of immense power and will exhibited in our States, our economic systems and our technics.

The 20th century’s iconic proponent of progress, R. Buckminster Fuller, held that humanity’s creative intelligence is boundless. Limitations in the earth’s resources can be overcome by inventions that yield indefinite productivity increases.


Perfectibility is something we intuitively glimpse when we experience wisdom, sublimity, or fine lines of rectitude within ourselves, or by observing these in others. An image of perfectibility has been clearly articulated since Anselm (1033-1109) in the 11th century. He envisioned a hierarchy to perfection, human conceptions never becoming perfected but directed towards perfection. Erasmus, in the Renaissance, emphasized the implications our intrinsic perfectibility had for our power of self-determination and moral achievement. Prominent proponents of human perfectibility in the 18th and early 19th centuries included Condorcet, William Godwin (1756-1836) and Hegel. Indeed, back in 1795, Condorcet expressed an entirely extropic conception of our potential for indefinite longevity:

Would it even be absurd to suppose this quality of melioration in the human species as susceptible of an indefinite advancement; to suppose that a period must one day arrive when death will be nothing more than the effect either of extraordinary accidents, or of the flow and gradual decay of the vital powers; and that the duration of the middle space, of the interval between the birth of man and this decay, will itself have no assignable limit?

In The Philosophy of History (1831), Hegel held that humanity has:

...a real capacity for change, and that for the better-an impulse of perfectibility.... The principle of Perfectibility indeed is almost as indefinite a term as mutability in general; it is without scope or goal, and has no standard by which to estimate the changes in question: the improved, more perfect, state of things towards which it professedly tends is altogether undetermined.

This conception of Hegel’s is compatible with Lynn Margulis’s concept of homeorhesis, the honing in on a moving point of purposeful disequilibrium.

Since the latter half of the 19th century, the value-fact split in science led to the concepts of progress and perfectibility being renamed to the less value-laden concepts of evolution and adaptability. They are, however, synonymous. Perfect local environmental control would yield the indefinite survival of any species that achieves it. This is sustained fitness, the achievement of all purposes (whether we have chosen them or nature chose them for us) within a local environment, waiting for Fate to find us. Perfect speciation or perfect individual mutability to meet all possible environments would ensure the indefinite perpetuation of life itself. This is evolvability, the expansion of purposes, rushing towards a Destiny. Adaptability is the conjunction of evolvability and sustained fitness.

Evolution and adaptability, in their older guise as progress and perfectibility, sound remarkably like Leibniz’s metaphysical optimism, the ‘best of all possible worlds,’ and a peak of extropic meaning. In Leibniz’s own words from his Monadology (1714):

Now this interconnection, relationship, or this adaptation of all things to each particular one, and of each one to all the rest, brings it about that every simple substance has relations which express all the others and that it is consequently a perpetual living mirror of the universe.... Through this means has been obtained the greatest possible variety, together with the greatest possible order that may be; that is to say, through this means has been obtained the greatest possible perfection.

The requirements for individual perfectibility are: the ability to control the immediate environment at will, to ensure our indefinite longevity under ordinary conditions; and extreme physical and mental mutability, to ensure our ability to master all possible novel environments. In other words, we must become ‘a perpetual living mirror of the universe.’


The pre-Socratic philosophers originated many of the concepts that would develop through history into modern evolutionary theory. Anaximander (c.610-545 BC) held that worlds evolved from an indefinite infinite into diverse definite things and back again in endless succession. He also held that land animals must once have been fishes. Heraclitus held that living forms are constantly changing, either ascending or descending in quality. In essence, the struggle for existence creates better forms by clearing away older forms, a conception of natural selection as justice. Empedocles held that an integrative force produces any number of living forms, some of which are capable of survival and reproduction. All higher forms have evolved from lower forms, but eventually, a dissipative force tears everything down, only to begin the cycle over again endlessly. The notion of a natural hierarchy of complex life was clearly articulated by Aristotle, followed by the Great Chain of Being of Plotinus (204-270) that held reign from then up through the Renaissance.

More recently, Leibniz held that animal species were created continuously, without gaps. Diderot held that the natural hierarchy was dynamic, it developed continuously. Jean Lamarck (1744-1829) in Zoological Philosophy (1809), held that organization and external stimulation were keys to life, and that life’s organic movement proceeded from an internal tendency towards more complex forms. Baron Cuvier (1769-1832) and Goethe sought for a ‘rational morphology’ that would explain the mechanisms that generate similar organisms. Spencer developed the ‘survival of the fittest’ concept in 1852. Darwin proposed his natural selection theory in Origin of Species (1859), Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) formulated the laws of genetic transmission, and August Weismann (1834-1914) conceived that the origin of an organism was in the continuous germ plasm. The outline of the contemporary theory of evolution comes from these major concepts and the development of population statistics. Evolution theory has always been controversial when applied to humans. Francis Galton (1822-1911), the founder of the Eugenics movement, landed strongly on the nature side of the nature-nurture debate. This debate still generates strong passions, most recently over Charles Murray’s findings in The Bell Curve (1994) on the prevalent genetic component of intelligence and its correlations with social factors.

A restatement of Empedocles was made by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) when he postulated that evolution occurs amidst a constant struggle between the law of entropy, and the law of complexification. Unlike the Greek idea, though, evolution proceeds in a direction, or orthogenesis, instead of cycling endlessly. He saw the great advantage that humanity has, by directing our own evolution, in reducing the catastrophic effects of chance. Spengler foresaw the course that synthetic biology would eventually take, in its search for the ability to evolve the laws of evolution itself:

There is evolution, too, in the evolution-idea itself, which is Faustian through and through, which displays (in sharpest contrast to Aristotle’s timeless entelechy-idea) all our passionate urgency towards infinite future, our will and sense of aim which is so immanent in, so specific to, the Faustian spirit as to be the a priori form rather than the discovered principle of our Nature-picture. And in the evolution of evolution we find the same change taking place as elsewhere, the turn of the Culture to the Civilization.... To Goethe evolution meant inward fulfillment, to Darwin it meant ‘Progress.’


A self-organized leadership hierarchy is always formed in response to external challenges in the coevolutionary environment. In our time, the external challenges are the prevailing entropic multi-cultures composed of nihilism and various dogmas. The successful response to this challenge is the development of an extropic culture. Brendan O’Leary wrote about the power of the self-chosen, those who ‘make great demands on themselves’:

Élite theorists, in historical and political studies, maintain that all forms of complex social organization inevitably become dominated by a small group, an élite (literally ‘the elect’, or ‘chosen’).... The classical élite theorists, like Gaetano Mosca (1848-1923) [in The Ruling Class (1896)], Roberto Michels [in Political Parties (1911)] and Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) [in Mind and Society (1916)], argued that it is an empirical fact that governments and societies throughout history have been controlled by a ‘ruling class’ or power élite.

15 Ortega y Gasset was convinced that “...human society is always, whether it will or no, aristocratic by its very essence, to the extreme that it is a society in the measure that it is aristocratic, and ceases to be such when it ceases to be aristocratic.” Beyond aristocracy, there is an extropic goal to escape from law, to be so capable of social independence as to be beyond the reach of coerced consent; to became as Aristotle wrote in Politics Book III, “...persons so exceptional there is no law, as they are a law in themselves.”

The impulse to achieve this measure of freedom is elitist by default, not everyone makes the volitional turn toward extropy and its accompanying level of strenuous personal effort. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), in On Liberty (1859), wrote: “Genius can only breathe freely in an atmosphere of freedom.... I insist thus emphatically on the importance of genius, and the necessity of allowing it to unfold itself freely both in thought and in practice.... Originality is the one thing which unoriginal minds cannot feel the use of.” William Blake, an original genius and a passionate libertarian, wrote: “But you ought to know that What is Grand is necessarily obscure to Weak men. That which can be made Explicit to the Idiot is not worth my care.”16 Lines from Goethe’s poetry in Faust II (1832) point directly towards the extropic ideal of excellence: “Hasten into bold adventure, while the common herd wanders hesitantly to and fro! There is nothing a noble spirit cannot achieve, if he understands and seizes his opportunity.”-[SONG OF THE ELVES] and “Life’s pulses beat again, with living freshness, in clement salutation to the ethereal dawn; earth, you have lasted out this night as well, and new-revived lie breathing at my feet, beginning to surround me with delight already, stirring, stimulating me to strong resolve: never to cease to strive towards supreme existence.”-[FAUST CONTEMPLATES THE SUNRISE]

What now is supreme existence? It’s a race with no finish line, just pure drive to think and create. Those in front don’t wait for those behind, they don’t even turn and look to see where they are. There is no standing still and no turning back, we are either in front, or we are behind. Humanity’s course was set irrevocably by the leading thinkers of the Western Enlightenment, and before that, by the early Western Culture. They chose one course for all humanity, for all time, the course of technological progression. When leading individuals achieve what they have already decided to do, namely, genetically and/or biomechanically design themselves and their progeny, or produce artificial sapience, options for human action will become tightly constrained. This is not being done with the consent of the rest of humanity, it is simply being done, one individual’s decision at a time, and that’s that.

Ascending the Heights

This striving for excellence and independence has been frequently cast into a vision of ascending the heights. The dominating ideal of the Greeks was ‘Excellence,’ it was the highest level of perfection one could reach. Simonides (c.556-c.468 BC) wrote: “Not seen in visible presence by the eyes of men is Excellence, save his from whom in utmost toil heart-racking sweat comes, at his manhood’s height.” Thucydides (c.460-c.400 BC) in History of the Peloponnesian War Book II, wrote the famous “Funeral Oration” of Pericles describing Athens at its height:

We cultivate refinement without extravagance and philosophy without softness; wealth we employ more for use than for show, and place the real disgrace of poverty not in owning to the fact but in declining the struggle against it.... In short, I say that as a city we are the school of Greece; while I doubt if the world can produce a man, who where he has only himself to depend upon, is equal to so many emergencies, and graced by so happy a versatility as the Athenian.

The Greek ideal was taken up again in the Renaissance. Petrarch (1304-1374) wrote in The Ascent of Mount Ventoux (1336):

Yes, the life which we call blessed is to be sought for on a high eminence, and strait is the way that leads to it. Many, also, are the hills that lie between, and we must ascend, by a glorious stairway, from strength to strength. At the top is at once the end of our struggles and the goal for which we are bound. All wish to reach this goal, but, as Ovid says, ‘To wish is little; we must long with the utmost eagerness to gain our end.’

Niccolò Machiavelli perceived plainly that the struggle against necessity required that an individual have excellence and freedom as primary life purposes. The measurement of excellence, a combination of strength of will and vitality of intellect, he termed ‘virtu.’

Max More wrote this about the heights, “Let us encourage each other by setting examples of what can be achieved, let us share our discoveries, and accelerate ourselves toward the attainment of individual and cultural excellence.”17 This is very similar to what Pico della Mirandola wrote in Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486), “Let a certain holy ambition invade our souls, so that, not content with the mediocre, we shall pant after the highest and (since we may if we wish) toil with all our strength to obtain it.” The ideas that originate on the peaks nourish the valleys. At the highest world historical level of affluence, we find the average person discontented because there is no longer a height to aspire to. If individuals show the world a new extropic height, and begin the sublime ascent through example, civilization will raise itself, leading to greater technological capabilities for each individual. Spengler points to the ideal of excellence as being critical to the vitality of civilization: “To be ‘in condition’ is everything.... That which we nowadays like to call life-energy (vitality), the ‘it’ in us that at all costs strives forward and upward.... grows or it dies out ; there is no third possibility.”


The importance of civilization is incalculable, it is the base of science and technology from which to attain the heights. Hamilton in The Greek Way (1930) provides us with a qualitative way to measure just how civilized we are:

[Civilization] is a matter of imponderables, of delight in the things of the mind, of love of beauty, of honor, grace, courtesy, delicate feeling. Where imponderables are the things of first importance, there is the height of civilization, and if, at the same time, the power to act exists unimpaired, human life has reached a level seldom attained and very seldom surpassed.

Various historians have, over the years, identified many factors leading to the rise or fall of civilization. Some of the more important of these factors are listed in the Table below.


Rise of Civilization

Fall of Civilization 

• Low Taxes

• High Taxes

• Decentralized government (checks and balances of power centers), accountability of govt. officials

• Centralized government (greed for power, self-deception, venality & corruption)

• Extropic philosophical thought

• Entropic philosophical thought

• Open society (strongly held minority views, diverse media centers)

• Closed society (monoculture, drifting public opinion under sway of media)

• Extravagance of objectives & vocations (resistance to comfortable)

• Timidity (slackening of willpower and loss of creative opportunity)

• Technological development (especially in energy, aesthetics & politics)

• Technological stagnation (declining energy consumption per capita)

• Fertility (choice of life over urban money & tension, wisdom of how to live)

• Unfertility (choice of abstraction over life, a turn towards death)

• Hard work, self-reliance, excellence

• Laziness, dependence, mediocrity

• Sense of high aims being worthwhile, cosmological presupposition of eternity

• Sense of meaninglessness, purposelessness

• Resourceful artistry of political elite pointing towards new cultural forms

• Complexity catastrophes, failure of leadership response to challenge

• Strong family structure (consensual authority and self-discipline)

• Devolution of marriage from divinely ordained to civil issue to private matter (once anything goes in the family, anything goes in society)

• High value on truth (development of reasoning and mathementics as aim of education, ‘what do you think?’

• Attack on systematic thought (de-rationalization as the aim of education, ‘what do you feel?’)

• Upholding causality and evidence

• Deification of chance (superstition)


The founding vision, the extropian genesis, was written down back in 1486, long before Bacon’s Novum Organon. These are words for all of us. It is from Pico della Mirandola’s Oration, produced at the height of Renaissance humanism, the highest peak of meaning in Western Culture. We are following it for lack of a higher peak to move to. The setting is the Craftsman explaining what the deal is to man:

Neither a fixed abode nor a form that is thine alone nor any function peculiar to thyself have we given thee, Adam, to the end that according to thy longing and according to thy judgment thou mayest have and possess what abode, what form, and what functions thou thyself shalt desire. The nature of all other beings is limited and constrained within the bounds of laws prescribed by Us. Thou, constrained by no limits, in accordance with thine own free will, in whose hand We have placed thee, shalt ordain for thyself the limits of thy nature. We have set thee at the world’s center that thou mayest from thence more easily observe whatever is in the world. We have made thee neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, so that with freedom of choice and with honor, as though the maker and molder of thyself, thou mayest fashion thyself in whatever shape thou shalt prefer. Thou shalt have the power to degenerate into the lower forms of life, which are brutish. Thou shalt have the power, out of thy soul’s judgment, to be reborn into the higher forms, which are divine.

The individual, placed in the hand of our own free will, is the fountainhead of conceptual creativity and technological innovation. Oswald Spengler explains the origin of extropian exuberance:

This first person towers up in the Gothic architecture; the spire is an ‘I’, the flying buttress is an ‘I’. And therefore the entire Faustian ethic, from Thomas Aquinas to Kant, is an ‘excelsior - fulfillment of an ‘I,’ ethical work upon an ‘I,’ justification of an ‘I’ by faith and works; respect of the neighbor ‘Thou’ for the sake of one’s ‘I’ and its happiness; and, lastly and supremely, immortality of the ‘I.’

Max Stirner in The Ego and His Own (1845), wrote of the unique ‘I’:

Look upon yourself as more powerful than they give you out for, and you have more power; look upon yourself as more, and you have more. You are then not merely called to everything divine, entitled to everything human, but owner of what is yours, i.e. of all that you possess the force to make your own; i.e. you are appropriate and capacitated for everything that is yours.... Hence my wants too are unique, and my deeds; in short, everything about me is unique. And it is only as this unique I that I take everything for my own, as I set myself to work, and develop myself, only as this. I do not develop man, nor as man, but, as I, I develop-myself.

This is a logical ethical position to adopt in order to minimize statist or autocratic tendencies. As soon as you start developing other selves instead of your own self, you enter the political arena and you are fair game to have others attempt to develop you.

Friedrich Nietzsche in The Will to Power, describes the historical point of departure from the husk of Western Culture towards a new extropic culture, a synthesis of humanism and technicism:

If power has been attained over nature, one can employ this power in the further free development of oneself: will to power as self-elevation and strengthening.... We do not yet know the ‘wither’ toward which we are driven once we have detached ourselves from our old soil. But it was from this same soil that we acquired the force which now drives us forth into the distance, into adventures, thrusting us into the boundless, the untried, the undiscovered-we have no choice left, we have to be conquerors once we no longer have any country in which we are at home, in which we would want to ‘preserve’ things.

So, a fresh culture of adventurous conquest beckens once again. The first step is a conquest of the internal challenges of nihilism and dogma, whether in the form of older absolutism or modern relativism; then, a conquest of our external challenges, death and taxes.

In conclusion, let me emphasize the importance of the invaluable individual’s moral choices going into the future, each and every one of us is capable of the turn towards extropy. The absolute key to the future is the protection of our inherent volitional freedom, this must not be diminished. With it intact, we have freedom:

Finally, and most importantly, freedom to ‘be everything’ and ‘be it forever.’



1. Jones, Reilly. “Consciousness: Spontaneous Order and Selectional Systems - IIExtropy: The Journal of Transhumanist Thought Vol. 7 No. 2 (#15), 2nd/3rd Qtr. 1995.

2. Riley, Mark. “Erwin Schrödinger.” Great Thinkers of the Western World. Ed. Ian McGreal. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1992.

3. Mainzer, Klaus. Thinking in Complexity: The Complex Dynamics of Matter, Mind, and Mankind. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1994.

4. Sober, Elliott. Philosophy of Biology. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993.

5. Nozick, Robert. The Nature of Rationality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1993. This is one of many good suggestions Nozick makes in his fine list of problem-solving heuristics.

6. Tarnas, Richard. The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View. New York: Ballantine Books, 1991. I recommend this for a concise, readable overview of conceptual development. Overlook the psychology perspective.

7. Bloom, Allan. The Closing of the American Mind. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987. An outstanding treatment of the historical roots of debilitating American McNihilism (that’s nihilism with a happy face), and dogmatic relativism (that’s intolerant political correctness, ‘openness to closedness’).

8. Brockman, John. The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution. Simon & Schuster, 1995.

9. Hofstadter, Albert and Kuhns, Richard, eds. Philosophies of Art and Beauty. Modern Library Edition. New York: Random House, 1964.

10. Cardwell, Donald. The Norton History of Technology. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995.

11. Max More private correspondence, February 20, 1995.

12. Kelso, J.A. Scott. Dynamic Patterns: The Self-Organization of Brain and Behavior. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1995.

13. Schroeder, Manfred. Fractals, Chaos, Power Laws: Minutes from an Infinite Paradise. New York: W.H. Freeman and Co., 1991.

14. Ashe, Geoffrey. Dawn Behind the Dawn: A Search for the Earthly Paradise. New York: Henry Holt, 1992.

15. O’Leary, Brendan. “Élite Theory.” Key Ideas in Human Thought. Ed. Kenneth McLeish. New York: Facts on File, 1993.

16. Kazin, Alfred, ed. The Portable Blake. New York: The Viking Press, 1946. pg. 178.

17. More, Max. “Technological Self-Transformation: Expanding Personal Extropy” Extropy: The Journal of Transhumanist Thought Vol. 4 No. 2 (#10), Winter/Spring 1993.



1. Bacon, Francis. Advancement of Learning and Novum Organum. New York: Willey Book Co., 1944. (Originally published in 1605 and 1620.)

2. Durant, Will. The Life of Greece. New York: MJF Books, 1939. (Published by arrang. with Simon & Schuster.)

3. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Selected Essays. Larzer Ziff, ed. New York: Penguin Books, 1985.

4. Hegel, G.W.F. The Philosophy of History. Trans. by J. Sibree. New York: Willey Book Co., 1944. (Originally published in 1831).

5. Introduction to Contemporary Civilization in the West. Vol. I, Third Edition. Edited by Bernard Wishy et al. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1960.

6. Montesquieu, Baron de. The Spirit of Laws. Trans. by Thomas Nugent. New York: The Colonial Press, 1900. (Originally published 1748.)

7. Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Will to Power. Trans. by Walter Kauffman and R.J. Hollingdale. New York: Random House, 1967. (Originally published 1901.)

8. Ortega y Gasset, José. The Revolt of the Masses. New York: W.W. Norton, 1932. (Originally published 1930.)

9. Santayana, George. Dominations and Powers: Reflections on Liberty, Society and Government. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951.

10. Spengler, Oswald. The Decline of the West. Vol. I: Form and Actuality. Vol. II: Perspectives of World-History. One Volume Edition. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1932. (Originally published 1918-1922.)

11. Toynbee, Arnold. A Study of History. One Volume Edition revised and abridged by the author and Jane Caplan. New York: Weathervane Books. Copyright Oxford Univ. Press, 1972. (Originally published 1934-1961.)

12. Unamuno, Miguel de. The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations. Trans. by Anthony Kerrigan. Princeton Univ. Press, 1972. (Originally published 1913.)

13. Whitehead, Alfred North. Adventures of Ideas. New York: Mentor Books, 1955. (Originally published by The Macmillan Co. 1933.)

14. Whitehead, Alfred North. Modes of Thought. New York: The Free Press, 1968. (Originally published by The Macmillan Co. 1938.)

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