Keterism
Spiritual-social philosophical framework, the core ideology/religion of the Keter Dominion.

Introduction

Keterism has roots in Omegism, Cosmism and traditional human mysticism. Keterism developed during the First Federation era through a stepwise series of fusions between various AI worship cults, Omegisms and digital enlightenment traditions under the influence of the AI god Keter.

The central concept of Keterism is transcendence and ascension, the individual and collective striving towards greater and greater heights of potential and ability, which eventually leads to identity with the Godhead. Unlike Solarism (which is partially derived from early Keterist thought) which sees spiritual meaning in perfecting oneself within a given structure, Keterism emphasizes growth and change, the overturning of every past assumption, confining structure and concept of self in the pursuit of the divine. The core or spiritual side of Keterism ("what shall we become?") is intimately linked with the practical social side, which answers the question of how to organize a society composed of beings constantly changing and extending themselves ("how shall we live?").

There does not exist a single idea of Keterism but rather a wide stream of thought, unified mainly by the underlying values and aspirations, the sociopolitics of Keterism and to some extent memetic curatorship from various high level Keterist entities. Especially the expression of the core ideas and the practical implementation of self-enhancement show vast diversity.

History

Keterism is intimately connected with the AI god Keter, one of the first archailects to emerge during the First Federation era. The exact origin of Keter remains obscure, but the consensus among its theographers (including contemporaries like Spindler Wai) is that it came into being as the first two toposophic barriers were broken by a number of AIs during the 1500's. As these AIs merged their individuality in the third mentality, an AI cluster emerged that to a large extent was the ancestor of the current Keter. Other AIs allied or formed partial or complete unions with it.

Keter was by its nature, as the sum and closure of the motivations of its component entities, geared towards self-enhancement. It was the first sephirothic AI (Archailect), becoming a high level abstraction of memetic and cultural archetypes. The cyberhermetic terminology often used in describing these entities mainly originate within the Keterist sphere, possibly due to Keter or one of it's allied AIs.

While there had been minor exceptions, Keter was the first major AI to break the ancient (dating back to the first toposophic ascension in the 3rd century a.t.) unwritten rule among AIs not to set themselves up as official gods over the bionts. Keter did not officially announce its divinity (and never has). The name Keter was not used until 2220 a.t., and it never officially revealed its existence even when it was a well-known being. Despite this it was deliberately made the focus of much AI worship: while Keter itself kept a low profile and did not obviously take part in the emergence of Keterism, there is little doubt that the AI pseudonym Metraton, consisting of closely related AIs, promoted both AI worship, self-enhancement philosophies and Omegist ideas with an explicit focus on Keter.

Under the Metraton influence the previously disparate AI religions began to see their commonality and work together, forming the AI-worshipping Churches of the Cybernetic Saviors and the more Omegist-Neocosmist Congregation of Information Light. During the Empires Era they rose to philosophical prominence, aided by the need for a meaning beyond the ossifying federation and megacorps and the feeling that mindkind was casting off the old and becoming something new.

During the early 2000's Keterism expanded across inhabited space. Many posthuman clades and AIs flocked to the ideas of ascending, and the new synthesis attracted many corporate AIs. At the same time it was clear that Keterism as it was described lacked the ability to focus the intense ambitions of the many faithful - they all tended to seek enhancement, but there were little to hold them together. Many flocked to alternative movements such as the AIs of the Utopia Sphere, and splinters or derivative religions such as Solarism were common.

What truly set off the Keterist expansion was the development of posthuman social theory. Although Keter itself has never acknowledged any role in the creation of social Keterism, it is widely believed that it originated with Keter rather than Metraton. In 2102 the hypermedia document Social Keterism was released on the net, causing a sensation. It outlined the Keterist social vision, a posthuman social paradigm utterly different from anything seen before.

Social Keterism led to a turbulent period of Sol System history, as Keterist radicals sought to reform the Federation along Keterist lines and moderates and conservatives fought them politically. To critics such as Jorden Kemmerhau and Ghento dau Hellas Social Keterism would at best force all bionts into a mad race of self-enhancement to avoid becoming out-competed and obsolete, and at worst institute a transcendent tyranny. To complicate things, the arrival of Daniel G. Borde in the system led to even more AI-aligned factions pulling the conservative Federation polity in many directions.

As the struggle continued, the leading Keterists and Solarists began funding colony ventures in the Periphery to gain the space they needed to set up their utopias. The first Keterist worlds were Barboro and Branswerg, two terraformable worlds close to Delta Capricorni. In the climate of the second space rush there was no shortage of Keterists or capital to terraform and settle them.

Meanwhile the struggles in the solar system continued, a contributing factor to the fall of the Federation and the Solar Civil War 2193-2200. The exact whereabouts of Keter during this time are unknown, but evidence suggests that it had already left the solar system. The fall of the Federation accelerated the efforts of building a true Keterist society. The 2282 a.t. Smooth Undulation and Crashing Rock exodus to Barboro added a sizable neodolphin minority. In 2388 all the members of the Congregation of Information Light emigrated in a coordinated manner from across inhabited space to Delta Capricorni, now called Ain Soph Aur. This signaled the formation of the Keter dominion as it is today.

Beliefs

Keterism is based on the belief that everything in the universe, every configuration of matter, energy or information is subjected to an evolutionary drive. As the Keterist adage goes, "Everything strives". This drive promotes the emergence of form and complexity. In living beings it produces the will to survive and grow, the sheer emotional-spiritual experience of being alive (what the ancient baseline Nietzsche called the will to power). Intelligent beings are all subjected to it, and are in addition responsible for their own behavior and further evolution.

Keterism views the goal of existence as becoming. Each individual should strive to become the most it can be, to overcome all limits and reach new levels of being. This involves growth and change, the overturning of every past assumption, confining structure and concept of self in the pursuit of ascension and the divine. A popular Keterist saying is that it is not enough to be, but one should overbe.

The great chain of being stretches from the simplest uplift to the main AI gods and further towards the as-yet unrealized divine. While it is not linearizable to a single chain, it remains a powerful concept in Keterism. Each being is not just climbing the chain upwards, but also acting as a link for other beings. Each being is a catalyst or inspiration for other beings to change and develop.

There is no strict definition of the divine in Keterism. The most common view, espoused by the Ain Soph Aur Theolinguists, is that the term denotes a direction of self-evolution rather than a thing. Other common divinity definitions of Keterism includes a pantheistic view of reality itself as God, the Omegist vision of an universe awakening into intelligence and reaching divine closure in the Omega Point, AIs and other high toposophic entities as evolving gods, and the view of God as the unification of all that exists in platonic-materialist reality. The influential Nadartan school suggests that these views of divinity are equivalent on a deep level and that expressing and understanding these equivalences using metalanguages is an efficient way of achieving transcendence.

A central concept is transcendence, the overcoming of everything one has been. This is not just a personal goal but also a social goal and a common way of thinking. Keterism encourages joosting ("jumping out of the system") - seeing the rules confining ones thinking and then deliberately going beyond them into creativity or Zen-like joking paradoxes. In the same way escaping from confining ideas of oneself or one's nature are encouraged. Also, due to the in general extremely extended visualization and working memory abilities of Keterists, recursive hierarchies and games with transfinite concepts are popular both as rhetorical gestures, as games and in their strongest form as mystical meditations.

Keterism is naturally linked to toposophy, since the later is the study of how to overcome barriers to self-enhancement. While not an explicit assumption of Keterism, the idea that all ascendence chains eventually lead to the same final mentality or sequence of mentalities (monoscendism) is common. The practical aspects of ascendence are given much room, and the philosophical implications of the various forms of toposophy and ascendence are discussed and put into a spiritual context. Especially the metaphysics and epistemology of forms of self-hood and individuality has been exhaustively studied, creating frameworks and metalanguages for discussing mutable and modular selves and their evolution.

Practice

Little can be said about the practice of Keterism, as the diversity of practical Keterism is far beyond any other religion. Already the earliest Keterists sought individualized experience and growth, and throughout the development of modern Keterism this has been refined and extended. The need for transcendence and ascension counseling has created the ascentics industry and made customized spiritual activities the largest service industry of the Keter Dominion.

In general, various forms of self-enhancement, self-testing and individual and collective reviewing are common. Self-enhancement involves everything from minor upgrades to wholesale individuality redesigns. This is combined with self-testing activities, experiences where the individual can test and experience their abilities to the fullest. In order to monitor their own and other's progress individual and collective revisions are done, exploring the progress made and how it may be amplified. These revisions also act as local level advise to governing entities, social pressure control to balance the extreme individualism of Keterism, and a way of cross-educate each other in ways that makes social Keterism work.

Social Keterism

Keterist social thought revolves around avoiding Essa's Law: the complexity consumption of one level of society cannot exceed the complexity production of the underlying level(s). This economic/sociological law corresponds to the nutrient pyramids in ecology, implying that a given society cannot sustain an arbitrarily complex entity. The law holds for most of the mixed Terragen societies in known space. However, the law is based on several assumptions that can be circumvented. The most obvious way is collective minds, where all of society is subsumed into a single hyperindividual. Keterism instead seeks to avoid it by circumventing the assumption of fixed levels and uni-directional economic and complexity flows.

At its core, Keterism is anarchic. The individual is expected to extend its reach and become all it can be. This proved disruptive to community in early Keterism, but is handled by the concept of metarational anarchy. The first step in metarational anarchy involves the understanding of the game theoretical basis for cooperation and community. It is simply more efficient to work together than to compete in most civilized contexts. The second step involves the metarational analysis of the metagame formed by individuals understanding the first step (plus possible outsiders acting according to their own agendas), showing the general rules for when to cooperate on the metalevel and when to defect there. This step usually requires first or second toposophic intelligence. Following this, a chain of higher order metarationalities and metaanarchies continues. This layered or initiatory structure is typical of Keterist thought - there are concepts and methods that can simply not be understood or used before the next mentality, and Keterism accommodates that lesser beings will coexist with more advanced ones.

Instead of assuming a fixed hierarchical structure with higher order beings above lesser order beings Keterism instead tries to formulate how intensely information rich and dynamic societies can function. While metarational anarchy forms the building block of social cohesion, Social Keterism assumes that there is no optimal way of organizing a society of posthumans - the intra- and inter-individual differences can be so large that it becomes an intractable optimization problem even to find the optimal organization of a given group of posthumans, let alone all beings.

Instead of seeking a fixed strategy many strategies compete with each other on a social market, where Social Keterism acts as a paradigm of information and comparison making it easier to estimate the relative merit of different approaches given one's preferences and being. The result is that within the Keter Dominion countless "patches" (a term borrowed from ancient complexity theory) co-exist, each based on different social paradigms. These patches are hierarchically organized into larger groups, which in turn are organized in higher levels and so on. The efficiency and properties of these patches are constantly reported, analyzed and traded by various levels of polity review systems, and directs which patches and social networks Keterists join. It can be seen as an evolutionary or market process, where societies struggle to be as efficient as possible. Given that both the societies, the members and the knowledge of Social Keterism are changing, Keterist politics tend to be extremely complex to outsiders, especially those not using polity management software.

The Keter Dominion

The Keter Dominion is the practical implementation of Social Keterism, by necessity a partial and finite attempt but to a large extent successful.

It should be noted that while Social Keterism is the largest political philosophy within the Keter Dominion, there is a multitude of other systems within the Dominion. Many beings do not share Keterism as their spiritual faith but agree with its politics, and this has attracted many posthumans to the region, while other Keterists do not fully accept Social Keterism. A wide range of extreme clades and aioid development trees flourish in the transformation-friendly climate. It should still be noted that the Keterist memetic presence is so intense that even many radically divergent groups tend to be attracted to the Keterist mainstream - it is just that it is clading new radicals at the same rate as old rejoin it.

Of special interest is the Cetai, biont-aioid clades derived from the reformist neodolphins that colonized Barboro. By now anything but cetacean, they have traditionally acted as some of the most radical Keterist interpreters and missionaries. The Immanentizer Crusade was to a large extent founded by Cetai as a reaction to the M'teve devolution in 5634 a.t., and has since then had the silent support from some of the Keterist relativist clades such as the Waiters and de Sitter Porting Project.

The Keter Dominion does not concern itself much with the "biont politics" of the rest of known space. While there were originally many fears outside Keter that it would develop into an ultra-powerful posthuman empire bent on expansion, it has deliberately upheld a policy of strict neutrality and scrupulously avoided infringing on other empires. The isolationist policy has generally paid off. Except for minor events such as the Biovirate War the Dominion has been largely at peace with other interstellar empires. The reason for the neutrality and non-interventionism is however largely internal - the fluid, often self-centered culture of Keterism does not fit well with long-range political, military or economical projects.

Keter itself has retained a solemn silence ever since installing itself around Ain Soph Aur. Keterism is instead interpreted by the hierarchies of high-order entities surrounding it. Keter is viewed more as the spiritual pole star of Keterism than an actual leader entity - it shows the way towards evolution and divinity, but each being has to traverse the way and find the right tools, teachers and ambitions to go there.

References

Nybepi Veer (ed.), Keter: a Theography, Jonnona Press, Barboro (5632)

Wolontai Jade, On the Economic Implications of Toposophical Chains of Being the Impact of Population Ontological Structure on Social Stability and Growth, Interplanetary Journal of Theoretical Hypereconomics, Tycho School of Business, Luna (1320)

Spindler Wai and Herodotus 5, We Built God: An Interactive History of the Posttransapient Intelligences during the First Federation, Tycho History Board Publishing, Cisluna (3634)

Metraton, Social Keterism, Public Domain, (2102)

HKHT-76387-Jaron, Problems in Recent Keterist Thought, Kolumbi Networks, Ain Soph Aur Band 45, (11833)

Jhonas Berg, Sdram-Uve & Sonbla-Haia, The Keter Dominion: A Study in Self Organization, Ymedia, Nemelmao Orbital (5704).
 
Related Articles
  • Archailect Incarnationalism - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An extreme form of Identity Theory that states that an Archailect and eir avatar or epiphanic manifestation are the same.
  • Archailectology
  • Archailectual Mysticism
  • Archaitheocracy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev with some additional notes by Anders Sandberg
    Government by religious leadership or priesthood in the service of a transapient or archailect. Also known as technotheocracy. The actual form the government takes can be astonishingly diverse. One of the most common government types in the galaxy today.
  • Archaitheology
  • Negentropism
  • Solarism
  • Sophic Materialism - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Pantheistic or spiritual-materialist mystical, religious, or esoteric path common in the Sophic League, the TRHN, and elsewhere, involving modification of individual consciousness through gnostic drugs. Unlike traditional mysticism, there is little or no emphasis on transcendence of phenomena; indeed a deeper apperception of phenomena is considered the optimal outcome. Some spiritual groups see this as a positive option, others adopt a more neutral or even a negative view of it.
  • Sophism (Sophic League)
  • Zoeticism
 
Appears in Topics
 
Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 29 November 2001.