Transhumanism is good, but Synthesis is a trick. That is the position of a cynic and a critic, not a luddite.

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Transhumanism is good, but Synthesis is a trick. That is the position of a cynic and a critic, not a luddite.

Post by clennon8 on Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:24 pm

For those of you who may not frequent BSN much anymore, I am re-posting this thread here. It was written primarily as a response to Auld_Wulf's uber-snarky accusation that anybody who opposes Synthesis is a luddite (and a genocide fetishist!). But I also wanted to touch on some other things that have been on my mind.


* * * * * * * * * * *

Destroy is not an expression of Neo-Luddism or Theomorphism

I choose Destroy. On a pragmatic level, I choose it because it definitively ends the Reaper threat. On a philosophical level, I choose Destroy because it is an affirmation of Self Determination. More so than any of the other endings, with the possible exception of Refuse. Organics will make their own fate, for better or worse. No space-magical green beam of pan-galactic transmogrification, no God Emperor Shepard AI, and most especially, no Reapers.

To be clear, I do not celebrate the loss of EDI and the geth. I mourn them.

I oppose Control because it is a fascist fantasy. But that is a discussion for another thread.

I oppose Synthesis. On that matter, let's get a few things straight.

I reject Synthesis because I do not find the source to be trustworthy, nor do I find the explanation of it to be credible. Is this simply because I'm paranoid? No. It's because the game went out of its way for over a hundred hours to show us how the Reapers screw with your head and make organics believe fantastic things that are bad for them. One of their favorite fantasies? Synthesis.

I do not oppose Synthesis because I think technology is evil or because I fear technological advancement. That would make me a luddite. I am not a luddite. Technology is good. Or, rather, it is beneficial. Although there's something to be said for not handing a bazooka to a caveman.

While I'm at it, I also eschew any romantic notions about the "sacred nature of organics" or any of that baloney that is sometimes imbued upon Destroy choosers. If there's an ending that celebrates that kind of mysticism, it's Synthesis, in spades. Disagree? Okay, remind me, in which ending does Shepard infuse the galaxy with his organic essence?


The Morality of Synthesis (briefly)

This is well-trodden territory. Consequentialism, moral relativism, blah blah blah. Let me just quickly state that the Violation of Consent issue is definitely a very valid concern. Many pro-Synths will even admit that much. But they choose it anyway because Synthesis is just so darn wonderful, in their minds, that it's worth forcing this decision on everyone, just this once.

Ultimately, though, I'm not interested in doing another n tail-chasing iterations of the "Do the ends justify the means?" debate. Why? Because that amounts to a tacit acceptance of the legitimacy of Synthesis as a near-perfect realization of a transhuman utopia. I prefer not to grant that much.


Why Destroy is NOT a trick

1. Association: Control (TIM) and Synthesis (Saren) are negatively associated with indoctrinated villains, while Destroy is repeatedly endorsed by Shepard's friends and allies. It is also worth noting that Javik mentions an indoctrinated pro-Control faction that existed during his own Cycle. This faction caused dissent, which ultimately led to the demise of the Prothean empire. Furthermore, Javik describes the Zha'til, a fine example of Synthesis helped along by the Reapers. The implications are clear. Control and Synthesis are dangerous ideas, particularly when they involve the Reapers. Destroy is not so burdened by negative connotations.

Am I guilty of committing an association fallacy in the preceding paragraph? Perhaps. But "story logic" and "real world logic" don't perfectly overlap. Reality doesn't have a narrative; it is an unpurposed stream of moments, governed by cause and effect, unable to be condensed into a digestible amount of words or frames. Stories, on the other hand, have jobs to do, and a certain amount of time to do it in. In short, I believe these associations are ones the story intended us to make. They have a purpose within the Mass Effect narrative.

Ask yourself this question. If the most successful mass murderer and brainwasher in galactic history keeps propagating the same perverted "solutions" through indoctrinated agents, Cycle after Cycle, why should we believe those same solutions, suggested by the same entity, will work in our favor now? Is it because we're talking directly to the brainwashing mass murderer instead of one of his minions? Is it simple faith that this time will somehow be different?

2. The Crucible: While nobody understands precisely how the Crucible works, Shepard is informed on more than one occasion that the Crucible is capable of incredible destructive power, sufficient to wipe out the Reapers. Therefore, when Shepard arrives at the decision chamber, he arrives with the knowledge that he should be able to destroy the Reapers. To be told otherwise would be a dead giveaway to an alert Shepard that something was amiss.

Note: The low-EMS "control only" scenario is a corner case where the Crucible was built to incorporate the human proto-Reaper "brain" salvaged by TIM from the intact Collector base, but is too heavily damaged to destroy the Reapers. In the low-EMS "destroy only" scenario, the Crucible was built to incorporate the human proto-Reaper "heart," a power source which gives it sufficient power to destroy the Reapers despite the heavy damage the Crucible has sustained

3. Meta-logic: So, if Starchild is trying to trick Shepard into picking Synthesis or Control, then why isn't Destroy a booby-trap? It's a reasonable question, but not the knock-down argument some of you may think it is. Let me explain. In the previous point, I established that Shepard arrives at the decision chamber with the expectation that he will be able to destroy the Reapers. Therefore, Destroy must be available as an option, and Starchild must reveal it, even as he tries to once again spin his age-old illusion involving Control and/or Synthesis. Now, if Starchild wants to trick Shepard (and by extension Bioware wants to trick the player) then the illusion must be carefully maintained. Things have to be depicted in a way that works both on a narrative level and a meta level. There are constraints on what Bioware can do when trying to pull off this grand trick that will keep players talking about their game for a full year or more after its release. If, for example, Starchild said "Go shoot that tube if you want to destroy us," but then Shepard was able to explore the area and find the "real" Destroy option... Well, that would be a dead giveaway, wouldn't it? The illusion would be shattered, not only for Shepard, but for the player. Again, Bioware is constrained in what they can do, both from a cinematic perspective and a story-telling perspective, in order to maintain the illusion. Thus we see Shepard walking up to the tube, shooting it as it explodes in his face, and presto, all the Reapers fall over dead.


Last edited by clennon8 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:07 am; edited 6 times in total
avatar
clennon8
Thorian Creeper

Posts : 135
Join date : 2013-01-09
Location : Earth

Back to top Go down

Re: Transhumanism is good, but Synthesis is a trick. That is the position of a cynic and a critic, not a luddite.

Post by Guest on Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:59 pm

Destroy is just Harbinger (imo) going

"Fine, you chose to continue fighting us. You'll die anyway."

The Reapers see it as them not winning, but not losing so much either, because the galaxy is collected on Earth and are, in their view, easy pickings.

Of course, they're in for a surprise.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Transhumanism is good, but Synthesis is a trick. That is the position of a cynic and a critic, not a luddite.

Post by Eryri on Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:16 pm

I agree entirely. However if I had to nitpick, I would change the title to

"That is the position of a skeptic and a critic, not a luddite."

I think the word "skeptic" is more appropriate as that implies the application of critical thinking to truth claims. The word "cynic" has negative connotations with a jaded view of human nature.
avatar
Eryri
Phantom

Posts : 1178
Join date : 2013-01-07
Age : 39
Location : Wales

Back to top Go down

Re: Transhumanism is good, but Synthesis is a trick. That is the position of a cynic and a critic, not a luddite.

Post by DoomsdayDevice on Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:27 am

I guess in my opinion you could take transhumanism way too far, but I fully agree with the OP in principal.

_________________
"A good leader is someone who values the life of his men over the success of the mission, but understands that sometimes the cost of failing a mission is higher than the cost of losing those men." - Anderson
avatar
DoomsdayDevice
Being of Light

Posts : 2960
Join date : 2013-01-08
Location : Probing Uranus

Back to top Go down

Re: Transhumanism is good, but Synthesis is a trick. That is the position of a cynic and a critic, not a luddite.

Post by Restrider on Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:38 am

Good thread. Agree with it.
avatar
Restrider
Blood Pack Warrior

Posts : 934
Join date : 2013-01-07
Location : Democratic Republic of New Germany - Phase 1 Space

Back to top Go down

Re: Transhumanism is good, but Synthesis is a trick. That is the position of a cynic and a critic, not a luddite.

Post by RavenEyry on Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:43 am

I'm all for transhumanism. I'm against using space magic to force it on every living being and hats.
avatar
RavenEyry
Praetorian

Posts : 1703
Join date : 2013-01-08
Age : 25
Location : Lincoln, England

Back to top Go down

Re: Transhumanism is good, but Synthesis is a trick. That is the position of a cynic and a critic, not a luddite.

Post by Andromidius on Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:04 pm

Transhumanism is a concept that can only be achieved in incremental steps, slow and surely.

Synthesis is not this. Its an instant alteration of DNA. Not even the Borg do that when then Assimilate!

The whole concept falls down the moment its revealed. The very words "it cannot be forced" tells the story - if it can't be forced, why can it suddenly now be forced? No explaination? Then sorry, no can do.

Nothing is explained! Every time an important question is asked, we're told there's not enough time - then fuck you, no can do! Make the time, or your time is up!

Let's look at a more reasonable 'transhuman' situation - augments in Deus Ex. They are regularly shown to have extremely negative side effects, implant rejections, chemical addictions and the very concept that if you can't afford your implants they'll be taken from you or simply turned off remotely.

And this is before control chips are introduced!

Why would an instant transformation of every being in the Galaxy work better?
avatar
Andromidius
Admin

Posts : 1153
Join date : 2013-01-07

http://indoctrinationtheory.forumotion.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Transhumanism is good, but Synthesis is a trick. That is the position of a cynic and a critic, not a luddite.

Post by BatmanTurian on Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:11 pm

Very good, Clennon. My thoughts have been along these lines the past year and I grasped all of this intuitively but was unable to verbalize it. You have done so with marvelous excellence.

_________________
A general is well advised
To achieve nothing more than his orders:
Not to take advantage of his victory.
Nor to glory, boast or pride himself;
To do what is dictated by necessity,
Not by choice.
-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
avatar
BatmanTurian
LOKI

Posts : 92
Join date : 2013-01-09
Age : 37
Location : 'Murica

Back to top Go down

Re: Transhumanism is good, but Synthesis is a trick. That is the position of a cynic and a critic, not a luddite.

Post by BlueLogic on Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:21 pm

I saw this on BSN and was pleased to read such an articulate argument. You've found the fault line in the literalist position which is that the Intelligence is not trustworthy.

The literalist interpretation depends entirely on the Intelligence to provide the vision of the future that each choice will bring about. To believe these visions, one would need to perceive the Intelligence as constrained somehow; perhaps because it is driven by its directive, it is incapable of, or uninterested in, deceiving Shepard. Perhaps it wants Shepard's help to achieve its goal, so it has no reason to lie.

However, the Reapers have shown great capacity for deception and manipulation in the past. They've laid the grandest trap ever conceived in the form of the mass relays and the citadel. The Reapers create husks and other twisted perversions of life to cause psychological trauma to their enemies. They've used indoctrination to create perfect agents of espionage, sabotage, and assassination. The Reapers have convinced heroic figures to perform acts antithetical to their beliefs and desires.

Therefore, belief in the trustworthiness of the Intelligence is not rooted in experience. Indeed, it requires quite the leap of faith. How ironic.

_________________
Prelate and Apostle of the Church of Refuse
avatar
BlueLogic
Rampart Mech

Posts : 534
Join date : 2013-01-15
Age : 39
Location : Calibrating something in ATL, GA, USA

Back to top Go down

Re: Transhumanism is good, but Synthesis is a trick. That is the position of a cynic and a critic, not a luddite.

Post by clennon8 on Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:37 pm

Thanks, guys. I'm pleased with the level of discussion that has occurred in the BSN thread and here.
avatar
clennon8
Thorian Creeper

Posts : 135
Join date : 2013-01-09
Location : Earth

Back to top Go down

Re: Transhumanism is good, but Synthesis is a trick. That is the position of a cynic and a critic, not a luddite.

Post by BleedingUranium on Fri Feb 15, 2013 7:53 am

I had seen this on BSN, and it's just as good here, well put together Clennon Magic!
avatar
BleedingUranium
Thresher Maw

Posts : 1921
Join date : 2013-01-08
Age : 25
Location : BC, Canada

Back to top Go down

Re: Transhumanism is good, but Synthesis is a trick. That is the position of a cynic and a critic, not a luddite.

Post by Cyberfrog on Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:09 pm

Agreed. When Ieldra writes concessions, you know you've done good.

_________________
"The Catalyst's 'final evolution' is bullsh*t and it always was." - Ieldra2

cheers
avatar
Cyberfrog
Gas Bag

Posts : 67
Join date : 2013-01-20

Back to top Go down

Re: Transhumanism is good, but Synthesis is a trick. That is the position of a cynic and a critic, not a luddite.

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum