[extropy-chat] Desirability of Happiness, Etc. (was Are ancestor simulations immoral?)

Lee Corbin lcorbin at tsoft.com
Sun May 28 19:15:38 UTC 2006

Jef writes

> As discussed extensively on this list and elsewhere, if we
> were living in a simulated universe and it were being
> switched on or off, at whatever duty-cycle, there would be...
> no reason to care -- from within the system. 

> So on to happiness and suffering.

> (2) Happiness functions as an indicator of progress toward
> goals,

Only in evolutionarily derived natural circumstances. Drugs
can short-circuit this, which is often very, very good.

>  and for that reason it tends to correspond with what is
> considered good (what is seen to work over increasing scope.)
> But to confuse an indicator of progress with progress itself
> is like confusing a map with the territory and the eventual
> results are not good (they don't work very well.)

That's not necessarily true at all.  As Pearce explains fully,
happiness even when artificially induced can often enhance
progress. Many times we're made unhappy (at the instigation
of our genes) because things aren't going well, and they
[the genes] figuratively figure that strength should be 
saved for sunnier days. But soon sunniness can come from a
bottle, and artificial enthusiasm and joy will bring about
greater individual and collective progress and achievement.

>  Similarly, we can subvert the process and create a feeling
> of happiness directly by technical means, but this too is
> not an intrinsic good,

I disagree.  All other things being equal, I approve of
happiness, artificially induced or otherwise. In your
language, then, I consider the happiness itself as an
intrinsic good. (Don't you consider pain in and of itself
an intrinsic evil?)

> When the Buddha said that all life is suffering,
> he was stating a more fundamental truth,

This has to be the greatest one line of bullshit I've
ever seen you endorse! The exact degree that all life
involves suffering is the degree to which our technology
hasn't yet fixed something quite obvious.

> that all life involves gradients that must be continuously
> overcome. 

(yes I know, I didn't let you finish the sentence. But still!)

> It would be a misunderstanding to think one could eliminate
> the gradients of life, but it is a great understanding to
> acknowledge and accept this and thus eliminate subjective
> suffering from the internal model while continuing to
> function in the world. 

Well yes!  But you don't need to beat around the bush. 

> I think we can agree that being blissfully incapacitated is
> not morally superior to striving

I don't see them as at all connected, i.e., I don't see a
necessary trade-off between them at all

> (and therefore tolerating some suffering) to promote ones values.

at the present time  :-)


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