[extropy-chat] Pleasing Oneself

Anders Sandberg asa at nada.kth.se
Thu Feb 1 22:44:10 UTC 2007

Happiness also involves more parts of our being than just sensual
pleasure. I think that the more aspects of ourselves we add to the
positive experience, the more valuable it becomes. At the lowest level we
have simple sensual pleasures, little more than stimuli that activate our
experience of pleasures.

As they become more complex more and more of our brains get involved in
the enjoyment - a delicious meal involves both smell, taste and touch
sensations but also the knowledge and emotions tied to the food (ah, the
peas of the Po valley, they remind me of that trip to Milano...) and the
likely complex setting of the meal. Even greater enjoyment can be created
by participating in the experience as an actor and not just an observer:
the dinner company talk over the meal, maybe I cook it.

The highest forms of happiness occur when we are participating totally in
something and using all our being to bring it about, be it cooking,
climbing a mountain or solving a problem. At this level the pleasure
sensation becomes less important than the happiness: it is actually not
very pleasant to sit up all night hacking away at some great piece of
code, but the happiness it brings is indeed supreme and lasting. Happiness
tend to accompany doing things that makes us  extend ourselves as beings.

>From this perspective striving for happiness might be both a goal and a
means. It is the transhuman thing to do.

Anders Sandberg,
Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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