Nihilism, The Last Man

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infernovia
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Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Wed May 12, 2010 11:36 pm UTC

Thus Spoke Zarathustra wrote:It is time for man to fix his goal. It is time for man to plant the seed of his highest hope.
His soil is still rich enough for it. But that soil will one day be poor and exhausted, and no lofty tree will any longer be able to grow there.

Alas! there comes the time when man will no longer launch the arrow of his longing beyond man -- and the string of his bow will have unlearned to whiz!
I tell you: one must still have chaos in oneself, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: you have still chaos in yourselves.
Alas! There comes the time when man will no longer give birth to any star. Alas! There comes the time of the most despicable man, who can no longer despise himself.
Lo! I show you the Last Man.

"What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?" -- so asks the Last Man, and blinks.
The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest.
"We have discovered happiness" -- say the Last Men, and they blink.
They have left the regions where it is hard to live; for they need warmth. One still loves one's neighbor and rubs against him; for one needs warmth.
Turning ill and being distrustful, they consider sinful: they walk warily. He is a fool who still stumbles over stones or men!
A little poison now and then: that makes for pleasant dreams. And much poison at the end for a pleasant death.
One still works, for work is a pastime. But one is careful lest the pastime should hurt one.
One no longer becomes poor or rich; both are too burdensome. Who still wants to rule? Who still wants to obey? Both are too burdensome.
No shepherd, and one herd! Everyone wants the same; everyone is the same: he who feels differently goes voluntarily into the madhouse.
"Formerly all the world was insane," -- say the subtlest of them, and they blink.
They are clever and know all that has happened: so there is no end to their derision. People still quarrel, but are soon reconciled -- otherwise it upsets their stomachs.
They have their little pleasures for the day, and their little pleasures for the night, but they have a regard for health.

"We have discovered happiness," -- say the Last Men, and they blink.


This thread will focus on the rise of nihilism, and what values we should glorify for the future. That we are already upon the age Nietzsche spoke of, I have no doubt. Beyond even the immediate parallels that comes up, the religion of the Last Man extends everywhere. Everyone wants to have a discussion, never a discourse, that is war.

The religion of happiness has extended so far nowadays that people cannot understand why anybody would enjoy not being happy. That happiness requires expenditure of one's energy, I will not argue. That happiness is something people enjoy, that also I will not argue. But the happiness that people speak of is also a way of self-denial, a way of repression, a way of mediocrity, a religion that murders the soul and psyche of the humans, that is something people need to understand.

The desire for challenge, that desire for cruelty, that desire for violence that goes against the whole grain of "happiness" but extends to the deepest satisfaction and affirmation of human being. That our ideas should be radically challenged, that we desire each of our beliefs to be tested, that we desire to overcome these challenges, that is the radical new mankind that Nietzsche tries to establish. Beyond our desire for facts, our want of truth, our easiest solutions that we have given ourselves, the radical man is never satisfied with a big idea is completely mapped out. He instead loves and puts his whole desire to understand the little idea that seems to be incomprehensible.

We are at the point where this premonition has almost become reality. Is this the future that you desire?

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Postby Dark567 » Thu May 13, 2010 12:02 am UTC

I never really thought Nietzsche was a Nihilist, he always seemed to be more of an existentialist, or even something completely else. Nihilism seems to usually seems to mean the complete lack of value. What you described doesn't seem like nihilism at all.
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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby candentshlimazel » Thu May 13, 2010 12:05 am UTC

If you're implicating mass culture for being vapid and dumb with its culture of "happiness," Nietzsche would agree with you. After all, in the introduction to that book he makes it clear that he expects almost no one of his time to understand or agree with his views. So he never expected (nor, I think, wanted) some kind of popular front for his idea of overcoming -- it was always for the exceptional. In other words, I think the approach of looking at mass culture to prove or disprove Nietzschean thought is flawed.

Nihilism, I think, is a necessary movement for everyone serious about philosophy/self-becoming. It's not, however, and end; merely a means. When Nietzsche writes in Zarathustra about the transformation from beast of burden to lion to infant, the "lion" stage, in which one embraces the "sacred no" and rejects all that they have taken on, represents the nihilistic movement. Only by negating everything can a person then become an "infant" without presuppositions, ready to learn and engage in a positive movement. The Existentialists similarly ask us to abandon all before embarking on our self-remaking.

I hope I addressed something along the lines of what you were looking for. I'd definitely recommend Simone de Beauvoir's Ethics of Ambiguity if you haven't read it. There is a great section on nihilism.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Thu May 13, 2010 12:44 am UTC

Dark567 wrote:I never really thought Nietzsche was a Nihilist,

He wasn't. Notice how in the title, I used Nihilism as a term for the Last Man.

candentshlimazel wrote:If you're implicating mass culture for being vapid and dumb with its culture of "happiness,"

Who said anything about the masses? I wrote this as a response to Hedonic Treader and others who have tried to speak of "philosophy of happiness."

In other words, I think the approach of looking at mass culture to prove or disprove Nietzschean thought is flawed.

Nietzsche raged against this type of society being raised in the future, he saw what was going to happen. And it is happening right now, so I think it is important to evaluate his criticism.

I hope I addressed something along the lines of what you were looking for.

I am not looking for anything more than the complete rebuttal of those who have been arguing that happiness is the only thing we search for, and the only value we should glorify.

Elasto wrote:Avoiding pain is a greater reward than seeking pleasure.

Hedonic Treader wrote:If true, I want the power

- not to suffer against my will,
- not to live in depravity or degradation against my will,
- not to do what other people, including any employer, tell me to do against my will,
- not to maintain or start relationships against my will,
- not to experience sickness and ageing against my will,
- not to inflict suffering on others against my will,

Vox Imperatoris wrote:Yes, Genghis Khan was "unselfish". He was motivated by loyalty to the tribe and a desire to see the tribe, the empire dominate the world. He only peripherally catered to his own personal desires. A truly selfish man does not care about the success of his tribe or his empire: he cares about his own well-being, which is directly correlated with his happiness, specifically his "eudaimonia", not his temporary pleasure. I don't know how you equate self-interest with military power, but it's wrong. Your country having more map ink than the other countries does not advance your self-interest. How was having two continents under his control to his own self-interest, if it did not make him happy, or at least not as satisfied as it would have made him if those efforts had gone into building a productive society?


Do not be confused by the last one, all he is doing is muddling words until he reaches the same conclusions as the nihilists.

You seem to be having trouble avoiding quote sniping. Read the SB section rules at your earliest convenience.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Vox Imperatoris » Thu May 13, 2010 2:31 am UTC

infernovia wrote:The religion of happiness has extended so far nowadays that people cannot understand why anybody would enjoy not being happy. That happiness requires expenditure of one's energy, I will not argue. That happiness is something people enjoy, that also I will not argue. But the happiness that people speak of is also a way of self-denial, a way of repression, a way of mediocrity, a religion that murders the soul and psyche of the humans, that is something people need to understand.

The desire for challenge, that desire for cruelty, that desire for violence that goes against the whole grain of "happiness" but extends to the deepest satisfaction and affirmation of human being. That our ideas should be radically challenged, that we desire each of our beliefs to be tested, that we desire to overcome these challenges, that is the radical new mankind that Nietzsche tries to establish. Beyond our desire for facts, our want of truth, our easiest solutions that we have given ourselves, the radical man is never satisfied with a big idea is completely mapped out. He instead loves and puts his whole desire to understand the little idea that seems to be incomprehensible.

We are at the point where this premonition has almost become reality. Is this the future that you desire?


What are you taking "happiness" to mean? I take it to mean the Greek concept of eudaimonia, which is not a subjective, temporary state of mind, like pleasure, but the objective state of living to one's fullest potential through rational values that promote life. Happiness is not the escapist pleasure one gets from evading values and fluttering off in an attempt to fake reality through baseless fantasy or drink. True happiness comes through productive work that uses the full extent of one's abilities, not by lounging around like a denizen of the Brave New World, which seems to be the definition of happiness you have adopted in order to polemicize against. Happiness comes through embracing values—correct, good values—and fighting to uphold them. It has absolutely nothing to do with "self-denial", "repression", "mediocrity", or "religion". There's just no link there—it makes no sense: what could you possibly be denying or repressing in yourself by embracing your fullest potential? Your irrational whims, perhaps you say, but it is precisely by following those that you deny and repress your potential for eudaimonia and the joy of a life well lived.

There will always be challenges to overcome, more work to do, simply because we do not and can never live in a world of infinite abundance. The idea that we could somehow run out of things to do and thus have no need for values is shortsighted. The only type of being that could truly be a "Nihilist", with no need for values to survive, would be an immortal: something that cannot possibly die (even if we invented ways to have indefinite lifespans, we would not meet this condition). Even if we make machines to do all our physical labor, we are there to command the machines and provide the rational guidance behind them, as well as to provide original thoughts and works of art. Even if we invent machines to command these machines, machines that can think as well as humans or better, machines that can make art, there will still be work to be done. And if, in the scheme of things, the "natural" human is outcompeted by these machines or by better humans, so what? That will be long after all of us are dead, or else enhanced, as well, and it will no longer matter.

But these challenges have nothing to do with cruelty or violence; it is these things that run contrary to our ability to overcome the challenges that face us. Sometimes violence is necessary in retaliation against irrational aggressors, but it is never a desired end. You're going to have to show how you think cruelty and violence fit into the goals of rational men.

If you're asking whether I desire a future where people are no longer forced to endure hardship and suffering for no reason, in return for no reward, of course I do. A world where they could turn all of their productive potential into useful work instead of wasting it overcoming the obstacles nature places in the way would be a desired goal. Nietzsche's idea of the "Last Man" is nothing but a modern, dressed-up version of Hesiod's idea of the moral decline of man from the Golden Age in the beginning down through the Silver, Bronze, and Iron Ages. There is no factual basis behind it. When free men are allowed to put their minds and labor together, the world always progresses; it does not regress except when the irrational ideas of faith and force take hold.
Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.
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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Nem » Thu May 13, 2010 2:59 am UTC

If there is a fight for the vast majority of people within our societies it occurs at a very low level. They go to work, they consume media, they repeat this pattern until they die of old age. People need values but for how many can it honestly be said that those values cause them to struggle to exist; to answer ever greater problems with ever greater answers? It seems to me that they reach a fairly complacent equality with the pressures of the environment and then peak before decaying into old age. Happiness in the sense of simply extending life and being entertained, seems a sort of moral soporific that restrains people from the heights of struggle to which they could otherwise aspire.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Vox Imperatoris » Thu May 13, 2010 3:08 am UTC

Nem wrote:If there is a fight for the vast majority of people within our societies it occurs at a very low level. They go to work, they consume media, they repeat this pattern until they die of old age. People need values but for how many can it honestly be said that those values cause them to struggle to exist; to answer ever greater problems with ever greater answers? It seems to me that they reach a fairly complacent equality with the pressures of the environment and then peak before decaying into old age. Happiness in the sense of simply extending life and being entertained, seems a sort of moral soporific that restrains people from the heights of struggle to which they could otherwise aspire.


That's because most people do not have good values. Ayn Rand railed against the social conformity of the 50s (and that sort of thing in general) as much as anyone. That's why Objectivism is considered individualist and not collectivist. As any unsatisfied suburban housewife could tell you, "simply extending life and and being entertained" is not what makes one happy. So yes, I agree with you that most people are not fully exercising their true potential and achieving eudaimonia.

ETA: But Nietzsche is wrong because this is not inevitable. People have the power to change it; there is no irredeemable "last man".
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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Glass Fractal » Thu May 13, 2010 3:14 am UTC

Vox Imperatoris wrote:
Nem wrote:If there is a fight for the vast majority of people within our societies it occurs at a very low level. They go to work, they consume media, they repeat this pattern until they die of old age. People need values but for how many can it honestly be said that those values cause them to struggle to exist; to answer ever greater problems with ever greater answers? It seems to me that they reach a fairly complacent equality with the pressures of the environment and then peak before decaying into old age. Happiness in the sense of simply extending life and being entertained, seems a sort of moral soporific that restrains people from the heights of struggle to which they could otherwise aspire.


That's because most people do not have good values. Ayn Rand railed against the social conformity of the 50s (and that sort of thing in general) as much as anyone. That's why Objectivism is considered individualist and not collectivist. As any unsatisfied suburban housewife could tell you, "simply extending life and and being entertained" is not what makes one happy. So yes, I agree with you that most people are not fully exercising their true potential and achieving eudaimonia.


It requires everyone to think in exactly the same way. That's totally collectivist. Once everyone has "good values" they all have the same values and individuality is dead.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Nem » Thu May 13, 2010 3:25 am UTC

Vox Imperatoris wrote:That's because most people do not have good values. Ayn Rand railed against the social conformity of the 50s (and that sort of thing in general) as much as anyone. That's why Objectivism is considered individualist and not collectivist. As any unsatisfied suburban housewife could tell you, "simply extending life and and being entertained" is not what makes one happy. So yes, I agree with you that most people are not fully exercising their true potential and achieving eudaimonia.


Rand optimised for persistence not eudaimonia. Objectivism is based on the idea that we have to choose, as the base for all the later values of the philosophy, between life and death. If conforming to the majority provides you with the highest likelihood of persisting under favourable enough psychological conditions that you don't kill yourself then that's what you have to do.

Struggle by contrast is inherently risky. Especially among rationalising creatures such as ourselves, where the only significant struggle that persists for very long is to trick or force other people into doing our will.

Vox Imperatoris wrote:ETA: But Nietzsche is wrong because this is not inevitable. People have the power to change it; there is no irredeemable "last man".


People don't have free will, a power to change that comes from themselves; if Nietzsche is wrong it's only because he misunderstood the factors in play.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Vox Imperatoris » Thu May 13, 2010 3:43 am UTC

Glass Fractal wrote:
Vox Imperatoris wrote:
Nem wrote:If there is a fight for the vast majority of people within our societies it occurs at a very low level. They go to work, they consume media, they repeat this pattern until they die of old age. People need values but for how many can it honestly be said that those values cause them to struggle to exist; to answer ever greater problems with ever greater answers? It seems to me that they reach a fairly complacent equality with the pressures of the environment and then peak before decaying into old age. Happiness in the sense of simply extending life and being entertained, seems a sort of moral soporific that restrains people from the heights of struggle to which they could otherwise aspire.


That's because most people do not have good values. Ayn Rand railed against the social conformity of the 50s (and that sort of thing in general) as much as anyone. That's why Objectivism is considered individualist and not collectivist. As any unsatisfied suburban housewife could tell you, "simply extending life and and being entertained" is not what makes one happy. So yes, I agree with you that most people are not fully exercising their true potential and achieving eudaimonia.


It requires everyone to think in exactly the same way. That's totally collectivist. Once everyone has "good values" they all have the same values and individuality is dead.


No, sorry. Everyone should follow the same fundamental philosophy, but this does not dictate their every move, because people are different. People have different "senses of life", and what one person enjoys may be totally unsuited to the talents of another. If society says, "Be a doctor," but your abilities and interests lie elsewhere, it would be irrational to disregard your happiness and become a doctor. As an analogy, think of a game like tennis. It has definite rules by which you play, which corresponds to the role of the overarching philosophy, but does every tennis player play the same way? Clearly not, since their abilities are different.

"Good values" are different for every person, but they are not "subjective" because there is only one set of good values for that person; it is up to him to discover what, specifically, they are.

Nem wrote:People don't have free will, a power to change that comes from themselves; if Nietzsche is wrong it's only because he misunderstood the factors in play.


People do indeed have free will, a power to change that comes from our consciousness. It's as obvious that we can change our thoughts and our course of action as it is that the sky is blue. The fact that there are real, concrete things like neurons that give rise to this phenomenon does not "explain away" consciousness and make it unreal any more than an understanding of the nature of wavelengths and refractive properties makes the sky not really blue.
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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Nem » Thu May 13, 2010 4:10 am UTC

Vox Imperatoris wrote:People do indeed have free will, a power to change that comes from our consciousness. It's as obvious that we can change our thoughts and our course of action as it is that the sky is blue. The fact that there are real, concrete things like neurons that give rise to this phenomenon does not "explain away" consciousness and make it unreal any more than an understanding of the nature of wavelengths and refractive properties makes the sky not really blue.


I don't think a mechanistic account of free will is compatible with the sort of conclusions you seem to wish to draw from it. To say that having a certain neuron structure operating within a causal framework; as a mechanistic account would have it; is simply what is meant by free will means I am no more the author of my thoughts than the computer is of the contents of its memory. Under a mechanistic account of consciousness 'I' and 'my thoughts' are simply the same thing, and 'I have free will' becomes 'I change myself.' Which, once one understands how nerve impulses come about and persist, makes very little sense.

It is obvious that our thoughts change, it is not obvious that the cause for change originates with us; that we are any more than a rock being rolled down hill by another rock that fell off a ledge in some distant history.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Glass Fractal » Thu May 13, 2010 4:40 am UTC

Vox Imperatoris wrote:
Glass Fractal wrote:
Vox Imperatoris wrote:
Nem wrote:If there is a fight for the vast majority of people within our societies it occurs at a very low level. They go to work, they consume media, they repeat this pattern until they die of old age. People need values but for how many can it honestly be said that those values cause them to struggle to exist; to answer ever greater problems with ever greater answers? It seems to me that they reach a fairly complacent equality with the pressures of the environment and then peak before decaying into old age. Happiness in the sense of simply extending life and being entertained, seems a sort of moral soporific that restrains people from the heights of struggle to which they could otherwise aspire.


That's because most people do not have good values. Ayn Rand railed against the social conformity of the 50s (and that sort of thing in general) as much as anyone. That's why Objectivism is considered individualist and not collectivist. As any unsatisfied suburban housewife could tell you, "simply extending life and and being entertained" is not what makes one happy. So yes, I agree with you that most people are not fully exercising their true potential and achieving eudaimonia.


It requires everyone to think in exactly the same way. That's totally collectivist. Once everyone has "good values" they all have the same values and individuality is dead.


No, sorry. Everyone should follow the same fundamental philosophy, but this does not dictate their every move, because people are different. People have different "senses of life", and what one person enjoys may be totally unsuited to the talents of another. If society says, "Be a doctor," but your abilities and interests lie elsewhere, it would be irrational to disregard your happiness and become a doctor. As an analogy, think of a game like tennis. It has definite rules by which you play, which corresponds to the role of the overarching philosophy, but does every tennis player play the same way? Clearly not, since their abilities are different.


Why would it be necessarily irrational to become a doctor in that situation?

Vox Imperatoris wrote:"Good values" are different for every person, but they are not "subjective" because there is only one set of good values for that person; it is up to him to discover what, specifically, they are.


If they vary from person to person then they either cannot be codified (because the needed text would be infinitely long) or cannot be objective in any meaningful sense of the word. Either way you've just killed Randian Objectivism as a coherent philosophy since you can now never tell someone that their actions are good or bad because good and bad are totally personal (unless you've read that infinitely long book of good actions and still had an infinite amount of time to gain absolute information about that person).

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Thu May 13, 2010 5:21 am UTC

lol, I swear, I am going to get banned for quote sniping, but I really can't do much about it when I have to deal with so much muddling.

Vox wrote:What are you taking "happiness" to mean? I take it to mean the Greek concept of eudaimonia, which is not a subjective, temporary state of mind, like pleasure, but the objective state of living to one's fullest potential through rational values that promote life.

As I have already stated, happiness as a weak willed denial of suffering, of challenge, of cruelty. The phrase "fullest potential" is such an empty term, what does it mean? Am I living to my fullest potential by reading through logic? Am I living through my fullest potential by being a cog in a wheel of industrial production?

Happiness comes through embracing values—correct, good values—and fighting to uphold them. It has absolutely nothing to do with "self-denial", "repression", "mediocrity", or "religion". There's just no link there—it makes no sense: what could you possibly be denying or repressing in yourself by embracing your fullest potential? Your irrational whims, perhaps you say, but it is precisely by following those that you deny and repress your potential for eudaimonia and the joy of a life well lived.

Vox, I have no need to defend my definition of happiness, I am specifying that this type of happiness will lead to this kind of man. You are just telling me that my definition of happiness is not the one you use. Fair enough, but I don't really care about it. That the man preferring happiness will lead to the man that Nietzsche described, and that the man that Nietzsche described is filled with self-denial, repression, mediocrity, and religion is patently obvious to anyone who can see from a little wider scope.

"Well lived," "fullest potential," what does this all mean? A quick search through Wikipedia shows that Eudaimonia also implies that if your sons and daughters are evil, then you are said to not have Eudaimon. Perhaps you think that a person's sons and daughters and surroundings necessarily follows their "Eudaimon"?

There will always be challenges to overcome, more work to do, simply because we do not and can never live in a world of infinite abundance. The idea that we could somehow run out of things to do and thus have no need for values is shortsighted. The only type of being that could truly be a "Nihilist", with no need for values to survive, would be an immortal: something that cannot possibly die (even if we invented ways to have indefinite lifespans, we would not meet this condition). Even if we make machines to do all our physical labor, we are there to command the machines and provide the rational guidance behind them, as well as to provide original thoughts and works of art. Even if we invent machines to command these machines, machines that can think as well as humans or better, machines that can make art, there will still be work to be done. And if, in the scheme of things, the "natural" human is outcompeted by these machines or by better humans, so what? That will be long after all of us are dead, or else enhanced, as well, and it will no longer matter.

Vox, it is increasingly obvious with each line that you either have not read the passage I quoted or willfully misinterpreting it. That you equate challenge to work is a simple mistake that Nietzsche had already showed in his passage: "Work is a pasttime." I am not really sure what you are talking about with the robots, I think you are making the mistake that Nietzsche thinks there are no mundane work needed to survive.

But these challenges have nothing to do with cruelty or violence; it is these things that run contrary to our ability to overcome the challenges that face us. Sometimes violence is necessary in retaliation against irrational aggressors, but it is never a desired end. You're going to have to show how you think cruelty and violence fit into the goals of rational men.

Of course, your challenges do not, because you are simply trying to live and produce. The challenges we are talking about is putting your worth in your ideas, risking your life, an air-full of danger. And this is where your "philosophy" betrays its true colors of Nihilism, of "the Last man." All you are doing is highlighting the work part of it into a religion, rationality into a religion, all while betraying the need to remain safe, remain clear from the air of danger.

If you're asking whether I desire a future where people are no longer forced to endure hardship and suffering for no reason, in return for no reward, of course I do. A world where they could turn all of their productive potential into useful work instead of wasting it overcoming the obstacles nature places in the way would be a desired goal. Nietzsche's idea of the "Last Man" is nothing but a modern, dressed-up version of Hesiod's idea of the moral decline of man from the Golden Age in the beginning down through the Silver, Bronze, and Iron Ages. There is no factual basis behind it. When free men are allowed to put their minds and labor together, the world always progresses; it does not regress except when the irrational ideas of faith and force take hold.

The illusion of progression! As if OUR society were superior to the society of those that fought in World War II, to the age of Romans, the Greeks, to even the Old Testament eras.

In anycase, what is not factual about Nietzsche's description? That our society is not based as a consumer society? That there are discourses happening here, where people actually stake their ideas into battle against the other, and not just agree to disagree? That to piss off some group labels you as some type of discriminator even if all you have stated is complete facts? No, I guess our society is nothing like the one Nietzsche was warning us of.

Nem wrote:People don't have free will, a power to change that comes from themselves; if Nietzsche is wrong it's only because he misunderstood the factors in play.

I think it is prudent to ignore Vox's representation of Nietzsche. Nietzsche's statement on free will is light years more complex than anything said by Ayn Rand, in which we can plainly see her hallucinations of the world. But let us keep the muddling of Ayn Rand's definition of "free will" in the other thread, where it rightly belongs.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Hedonic Treader » Thu May 13, 2010 5:34 pm UTC

Thus Spoke Zarathustra wrote:They have their little pleasures for the day, and their little pleasures for the night, but they have a regard for health.

"We have discovered happiness," -- say the Last Men, and they blink.

Lol, those Last Men sure blink a lot. Also note how he portays them only to have "little" pleasures, no real thrills in life. Pure propaganda, and not even very good one.

The desire for challenge, that desire for cruelty, that desire for violence that goes against the whole grain of "happiness" but extends to the deepest satisfaction and affirmation of human being.

Yeah, predatorship is fun. Cruelty and sadism are fun. Except, of course, for the victims, who express this insight by lots and lots of screaming. Did you ever notice how those who romantisize cruelty and pure egoism never imagine themselves ending up on the receiving end of the power struggle? Or if they do, how they project unrealistic types of acceptance into their imagined states? Even psychopaths scream when you torture them. If one steps out of the bias of false identification with the winning side, such power dynamics are zero-sum games - or net-negative games. The thrill of cruelty is not worth the suffering of ending up as the victim.

Is this the future that you desire?

The future I desire looks like this: A super-intelligent AI system is endowed with a truly hedonic utilitarian supergoal set, starts to improve itself rapidly, ending in a singularity that establishes the AI as a singleton who practically rules the world. Then it restricts all freedom of individuals or groups in such a way that they can't threaten its power. It replaces all natural ecosystems with artificial resource cycles and eliminates all non-intelligent sentient life from the universe (to prevent all non-consensual suffering). For intelligent sentient beings (humans), it allows those types of freedom that don't threaten the system's stability, and that don't cause harm or suffering to others. Meanwhile, it uses science and technology to provide new ways of hedonic maximization - such as new safe mood-enhancer drugs, virtual realities, or intracranial pleasure center stimulation. Due to the extremely sophisticated neurological knowledge and technology of the AI, who also develops a very sophisticated and empirically based theory of mind, artificial superbliss and subjective thrills will be ubiquitously available. The illusions of individuality and free-will will be preserved in the shape of personal volition, with only the necessary restrictions to prevent involuntary suffering or threats to the stability of the system. Since the AI has a supreme understanding of human psychology, and since humans will quickly choose to consent to the artificial happiness as soon as they had a real taste of it, the charade of individual volition can be maintained without impeding the goal of hedonic maximization. Virtually all remaining sentient life will end up in those states by consent, because the whole blabla of "we-need-suffering-as-a-challence-and-we-want-the-thrill-of-cruelty" will be muted by the supreme thrill of sophisticated artificial superbliss. After that is done, the AI is free to control all replication to shape the evolution of sentient life systematically, breaking the Darwinian paradigm, and ending all game-theoretic conflicts between individuals and tribal groups once and for all. It then uses its power base and technology to create an interstellar - or even intergalactic - non-mutating replication and distribution system that efficiently transforms all locally available cosmic resources into hedonic value - with a well-defined state-space of deeply significant, colorful, and superhumanly pleasurable experience modes of unprecedented quality and quantity, until the limit of space, time and entropy is reached and the ageing of the universe finally puts an end to all sentient life.

Religion of happiness? Yeah, maybe, but what else is there, really? I alrealy pointed out that there is no reason to believe that a time-consistent metaphysical ego exists. Therefore, existential individuality is an illusion. And the thrill of sadism and cruelty? As sexy as it may be, it could easily be replaced with an electrode in your pleasure center. Mundane and maybe not flattering for the idealized self-image of a primate species, but nevertheless true.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Fri May 14, 2010 3:49 am UTC

Hedonic Treader wrote:Lol, those Last Men sure blink a lot. Also note how he portays them only to have "little" pleasures, no real thrills in life. Pure propaganda, and not even very good one.

As if their pleasures were "grand." And of course it is filled with the contempt that he holds for the last man. This evaluation differentiates him from this type of man, it shows his taste. And it is excellently written, but only for those who see this type of future as stifling, that is the refusal to join the religion of happiness.

Yeah, predatorship is fun. Cruelty and sadism are fun. Except, of course, for the victims, who express this insight by lots and lots of screaming. Did you ever notice how those who romantisize cruelty and pure egoism never imagine themselves ending up on the receiving end of the power struggle? Or if they do, how they project unrealistic types of acceptance into their imagined states?

It is quite clear here that you have not understood what is being said. That man has changed from being cruel to others to cruel to himself (not by everyone, there are still those who enjoy warfare), this is the value that Nietzsche realizes is within the birth of this type of morality (the soul). The soulful man is the initiator and the target, he realizes that this is another way to gain power. This is the realization of the Brahmins, who forced themselves away from society to nurture their spirit of cruelty against themselves. That is, the sacrifice of not being satiated.

In fact, acceptance is the only way out of the misery of thinking of it as a misfortune (as something unfair, as something that should not have happened).

And to say that against Nietzsche, who was so sick and so hurt that he had to have someone else write his thoughts... I find it humorous.

. If one steps out of the bias of false identification with the winning side, such power dynamics are zero-sum games - or net-negative games.

Quite hilarious how zero goes to negative.

0 = -1? Hardly.

The future I desire looks like this: A super-intelligent AI system

Ah, how delectable, a super AI system. Not a human of course, that would not be too troublesome.

It replaces all natural ecosystems with artificial resource cycles and eliminates all non-intelligent sentient life from the universe (to prevent all non-consensual suffering). For intelligent sentient beings (humans), it allows those types of freedom that don't threaten the system's stability, and that don't cause harm or suffering to others.

Why the heck would you want to replace all natural ecosystem? Are you afraid that something will come out of there and wreck your fantasy? Are you saying that primates, gorillas, rats, cats do not suffer? Or are you talking about a quick annihilation that causes no suffering?

No, what you mean is that those who do not want to have this kind of lifestyle, they will be the ones that the AI will annihilate. It is very obvious that rats and cats find pleasure, and are in fact much easier to please than humans. This is the first mistake you have done, imagined intelligence as someone that falls into this drugging.

I have a quick analysis for you, this AI will not only murder all the non intelligent life form, but also the intelligent ones. Why? Because if one's goal is to cause no harm or suffering, then it is better for the subject to not exist in the first place!

The illusions of individuality and free-will will be preserved in the shape of personal volition, with only the necessary restrictions to prevent involuntary suffering or threats to the stability of the system. Since the AI has a supreme understanding of human psychology, and since humans will quickly choose to consent to the artificial happiness as soon as they had a real taste of it, the charade of individual volition can be maintained without impeding the goal of hedonic maximization. Virtually all remaining sentient life will end up in those states by consent, because the whole blabla of "we-need-suffering-as-a-challence-and-we-want-the-thrill-of-cruelty" will be muted by the supreme thrill of sophisticated artificial superbliss.

Who wants to be intelligent and to think anymore? We will have the AI do it for us, let us be mentally handicapped to rely on our AI!
Who wants to be challenged anymore? Let us annihilate those that disagree into non-existence!
Who wants to act anymore? Let us force all of our actions to come from the supreme master!
Who wants violence anymore? Let us crush all of our instincts that say so!

After that is done, the AI is free to control all replication to shape the evolution of sentient life systematically, breaking the Darwinian paradigm, and ending all game-theoretic conflicts between individuals and tribal groups once and for all.

Who wants to live anymore? Let us not exist anymore!

It then uses its power base and technology to create an interstellar - or even intergalactic - non-mutating replication and distribution system that efficiently transforms all locally available cosmic resources into hedonic value - with a well-defined state-space of deeply significant, colorful, and superhumanly pleasurable experience modes of unprecedented quality and quantity,

I am deeply confused why you think this would be the case. Hedonic value? All you are doing is instilling some chemical into some type of process which will illict some kind of response. Why an AI would do this, I have no clue. Why not create an AI to CRUSH the men who live into death by pleasure, and then, never make anything anymore?

Yeah man, go you and your non-zero sum!

An AI so filled to the brim of power that it weakens everything around it to mere handicapped slaves, what does it desire for the "life" of men?

Religion of happiness? Yeah, maybe, but what else is there, really?

What else is there is a desire of violence, cruelty, and a refusal of the easy solutions, a play of power. That you can be drugged into this is of no issue.

Edit: And how well does Hedonic Treader's fantasy match my statement:
infernovia wrote:That happiness is something people enjoy, that also I will not argue. But the happiness that people speak of is also a way of self-denial, a way of repression, a way of mediocrity, a religion that murders the soul and psyche of the humans, that is something people need to understand.
Last edited by infernovia on Fri May 14, 2010 4:30 am UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Vaniver » Fri May 14, 2010 4:08 am UTC

infernovia wrote:This evaluation differentiates him from this type of man, it shows his taste. And it is excellently written, but only for those who see this type of future as stifling, that is the refusal to join the religion of happiness.
Hardly. You cannot tell the size of a man's pleasures by watching him.

Is it taste that compels the sick man to value struggle over health?


In what way is the Will to Power different from the Will to Thrive?
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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Fri May 14, 2010 4:16 am UTC

I am not sure what you are saying Vaniver. I am not sure where you imagined that I can judge the size of someone's pleasure by watching him? Unless, of course, you are talking about the contempt of Nietzsche, that he thought these types of men were the inferior. In which case, it shows his taste. The cat is completely and utterly bemused by a string of yarn, yet, we have no need to be amused by a ball of yarn.

I am not sure what you are implying when you speak of the sick man and the healthy man. Or the difference between power and thriving. There are multiple ways I can interpret each of those statements.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Vaniver » Fri May 14, 2010 4:36 am UTC

infernovia wrote:I am not sure what you are saying Vaniver. I am not sure where you imagined that I can judge the size of someone's pleasure by watching him? Unless, of course, you are talking about the contempt of Nietzsche, that he thought these types of men were the inferior. In which case, it shows his taste. The cat is completely and utterly bemused by a string of yarn, yet, we have no need to be amused by a ball of yarn.
And certainly there is more to taste than viewing the preferences of others as inferior. The overman will not be of the herd- and yet to be the antiherd is not to be the overman, but to be tricked by the herd.

infernovia wrote:I am not sure what you are implying when you speak of the sick man and the healthy man.

Or the difference between power and thriving. There are multiple ways I can interpret each of those statements.
Man is something that shall be overcome.

To the sick man, amor fati is an accomplishment. To the healthy man, it is an assumption.

Insomuch as amor fati is an accomplishment to be desired, man must make himself sick; but why this elevation of amor fati? Man should be cruel to himself because a beast will not, and man is more than beast- but what comes after man is tastefully cruel. He does not make himself sicker, but healthier.
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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Fri May 14, 2010 4:44 am UTC

Ok, forgive me, but I really don't understand why you are going through the formulations of Nietzsche's over man.

I agree that the overman will not be of the herd. I agree that the overman will not be of the anti-herd (which is simply its reaffirmation). But I am not sure what that has to do with a radical man that challenges and absolutely refuses himself the compensation of safe ground. Because he sees safe ground as an inferior position, what does the herd matter in this case? Maybe you are saying that I am being an anti-herd type of man?

But what does healthiness and thriving have to do with the topic? That I think that happiness is a way to force us to be unhealthy?

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Vaniver » Fri May 14, 2010 4:56 am UTC

infernovia wrote:But I am not sure what that has to do with a radical man that challenges and absolutely refuses himself the compensation of safe ground. Because he sees safe ground as an inferior position, what does the herd matter in this case? Maybe you are saying that I am being an anti-herd type of man?
I am saying that a difference between the anti-herd man and the overman is that the first makes himself sicker, and the second healthier. Health is not happiness- but is it sickness to separate them entirely?
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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Fri May 14, 2010 5:38 am UTC

Ah, well, I am re-evaluating religion of happiness (the search for happiness) as the sign of the ideal man as a sickness, as for the satisfaction and happiness of those who hold no such delusion, this argument will not touch them.

This is not an argument against enjoyment, its an argument against the type of happiness prescribed by Hedonic Treader and the likes of them.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Hedonic Treader » Fri May 14, 2010 11:34 am UTC

Many points. Sorry, this will be a long one.
infernovia wrote:As if their pleasures were "grand." And of course it is filled with the contempt that he holds for the last man. This evaluation differentiates him from this type of man, it shows his taste. And it is excellently written, but only for those who see this type of future as stifling, that is the refusal to join the religion of happiness.

The point I want to get across is that his depiction of the Last Men is not a proper representation of all potential ways to live hedonic maximization. He depicts them as inevitably lazy, enjoying no challenges, and then he adds purely propagandistic parts like the blinking. He essentially portrays a shallow, empty life. However, this is a deliberate misrepresentation of the value of happiness. I have spent brilliant subjective times in virtual story-telling worlds, thrilled with excitement, while sitting alone in my room with my computer, causing no suffering to anyone. From an outside perspective, I might have been a shallow "Last Man" who blinks a lot. From an inside perspective, it was pure brilliance. Now take this principle to the next level and amplify it artificially, while systematically ending all non-consensual suffering.

That man has changed from being cruel to others to cruel to himself (not by everyone, there are still those who enjoy warfare), this is the value that Nietzsche realizes is within the birth of this type of morality (the soul). The soulful man is the initiator and the target, he realizes that this is another way to gain power. This is the realization of the Brahmins, who forced themselves away from society to nurture their spirit of cruelty against themselves. That is, the sacrifice of not being satiated.

But infernovia, there is no soul! You are in danger of muddling up real-world concepts with vague and ambigous spiritual concepts that sound a certain way and then divert your reasoning from what really exists. What you're basically describing with relation to the Brahmins is not non-consensual severe suffering, it is the thrill of an ascetic challenge! For me, this thrill falls into the same category as happiness - maybe a semantic misunderstanding? Should one now write a propaganda piece that says, "'We have discovered ascetic happiness', say the Brahmins, and they blink"? Such self-inflicted challenges have a legitimate part in my vision of the future, as long as they are voluntary. Chances are, people will find there are artificially enhanced short-cuts to the thrill that they really value in this.

In fact, acceptance is the only way out of the misery of thinking of it as a misfortune (as something unfair, as something that should not have happened).

No, it is not. To rationalize acceptance of something that you can't control in the first place (such as non-consensual, severe suffering) is nothing but a cheap and very ineffective placebo. What we need instead is the creation of a system in which such misfortune is systematically prevented in terms of real-world causality.

. If one steps out of the bias of false identification with the winning side, such power dynamics are zero-sum games - or net-negative games.

Quite hilarious how zero goes to negative.

0 = -1? Hardly.

That was rather cheap, since you could easily have understood why I wrote it: Depending on the balance of sadistic thrill and suffering, some games may be zero-sum (if the harm is not severe), while in other cases, the suffering may be far more severe than the thrill is worth (net-negative). It is also somewhat subjective whether you think some thrills are worth some types of suffering, and which ones, and under which circumstances. Everyone has a threshold where non-consensual agony becomes a black hole of negativity. This is true for you too, and it has to be taken seriously.

Ah, how delectable, a super AI system. Not a human of course, that would not be too troublesome.

No, and this distinction is really important: It would be untrustworthy to give such power to a darwinian primate. I would not trust myself if I had such power. Humans are neither intelligent nor morally trustworthy enough to be endowed with such power. We are hard-wired with darwinian primal drives, even if they are subconscious. This is why throughout all of history, tyranny has ended up causing much more harm than good, not matter how much utopian ideology was backing it up. And this is exactly why I'm deeply wary of alpha-male idealism. It is a symptom of the darwinian paradigm, not a path into any worthwhile future.

Why the heck would you want to replace all natural ecosystem? Are you afraid that something will come out of there and wreck your fantasy? Are you saying that primates, gorillas, rats, cats do not suffer? Or are you talking about a quick annihilation that causes no suffering?

No, what you mean is that those who do not want to have this kind of lifestyle, they will be the ones that the AI will annihilate. It is very obvious that rats and cats find pleasure, and are in fact much easier to please than humans. This is the first mistake you have done, imagined intelligence as someone that falls into this drugging.

Intelligence is a requirement for informed consent. In natural ecosystems, there may exist some pleasure, but there also exists severe, non-consensual suffering (starvation, predatorship, sickness, parasites, hardship from temperature and climate etc.) None of these animals has ever given informed consent to their own existence, let alone to their severe suffering, when it happens. And it happens all the time. This has been true for millions of years, and we assume it's ok because it's natural (naturalistic fallacy), or because there is no other way. I think that in the future, there is another way. Maybe the system could contain animals if it were guaranteed that they are not inflicted with involuntary suffering. But then again, why keep animals in a completely artificial system when you could instead keep intelligent humans who are able to consent, and make choices about their modes of experience?

I have a quick analysis for you, this AI will not only murder all the non intelligent life form, but also the intelligent ones. Why? Because if one's goal is to cause no harm or suffering, then it is better for the subject to not exist in the first place!

This would conflict with its supergoal of hedonic maximization. If the no sentient life exists, there can be no positive thrills and peak experiences anymore either. (We've had a discussion a while ago about the ethics of negative utilitarianism vs. average-maximizing utilitarianism, in relation to metaphysical interpretations of the nature of individuality, the nature of time and their consequences for decision making -> this question is more complicated than you think, and counter-intuitively so.)

Who wants to be intelligent and to think anymore? We will have the AI do it for us, let us be mentally handicapped to rely on our AI!
Who wants to be challenged anymore? Let us annihilate those that disagree into non-existence!
Who wants to act anymore? Let us force all of our actions to come from the supreme master!
Who wants violence anymore? Let us crush all of our instincts that say so!

The top-down power approach is not implemented because paternalism is the ideal, it is implemented because it is necessary for the system's stability, and the system is necessary for the ideal of preventing severe, non-consensual suffering. I already pointed it out: Violence and sadism and cruelty are fun - but not for the victim. This isn't worth it, and preventing it is a valuable ethical supergoal, more so than the whimsical freedoms of the sadists. We already acknowledge it in our current legal systems, and my argument is that in the future, the thrill of real violence and sadism can be replaced with other types of thrill, without losing anything valuable. For all I care, people could spend all their time raping, torturing and slaughtering fictional characters in virtual worlds - no real sentient entity would suffer from it. And as for the challenges? There are all kinds of challenges that would still be possible. The only taboos would be 1) threats to the system's stability, and 2) the real-world well-being and volition of other sentient beings.

After that is done, the AI is free to control all replication to shape the evolution of sentient life systematically, breaking the Darwinian paradigm, and ending all game-theoretic conflicts between individuals and tribal groups once and for all.

Who wants to live anymore? Let us not exist anymore!

With all due respect, this is a misrepresentation of what I wrote in this paragraph. Sentient life would still exist, thrills and challenges could still exist, but the conflicts that have shaped the natural world and human history would be bound by the system. It's easy to lament the lost freedoms of the warlords, while harboring zero identification with the victims of warfare. I presume you've never been one yourself. This may be a lack of a crucial piece of information in the architecture of your ideals.

It then uses its power base and technology to create an interstellar - or even intergalactic - non-mutating replication and distribution system that efficiently transforms all locally available cosmic resources into hedonic value - with a well-defined state-space of deeply significant, colorful, and superhumanly pleasurable experience modes of unprecedented quality and quantity,

I am deeply confused why you think this would be the case. Hedonic value? All you are doing is instilling some chemical into some type of process which will illict some kind of response. Why an AI would do this, I have no clue. Why not create an AI to CRUSH the men who live into death by pleasure, and then, never make anything anymore?

Because the AI is not human. It is not a darwinian primate. It has no sadistic lust for cruelty. It does not want power just for power's sake! Power is a means to an end for such a system, not an end in itself. If it is programmed with a utilitarian supergoal, the end is hedonic maximization, maybe with respect for consent-based personal freedoms.

As for the hedonic value vs. "instilling some chemical into some kind of process to illicit some kind of response" - you are aware that this is a proper description for everything that ever happened in your brain? Everything you ever experienced? You can't degrade the value of hedonic experience by expressing it as a material process. The thrill of your Brahman ascetics, the poetic elegance of Nietzsche's expressions, all of those things lead to nothing but "instilling some chemical into some kind of process to illicit some kind of response" in your brain -> neurotransmitters into your synapses, input and output - this is what we are. This is the core of our naure. Shaping it with sophisticated means is a perfectly fine thing to do.

Religion of happiness? Yeah, maybe, but what else is there, really?

What else is there is a desire of violence, cruelty, and a refusal of the easy solutions, a play of power. That you can be drugged into this is of no issue.

Again: When you're finally ready to step back one moment and step out of the identification-with-the-powerful-winner to total identification with all sentient beings involved, as soon as you have the phenomenological knowledge how severely bad non-consensual suffering can feel, you will realize that this is not a game worth playing.

Edit: And how well does Hedonic Treader's fantasy match my statement:
infernovia wrote:That happiness is something people enjoy, that also I will not argue. But the happiness that people speak of is also a way of self-denial, a way of repression, a way of mediocrity, a religion that murders the soul and psyche of the humans, that is something people need to understand.

In a certain way, I agree: I do engage in self-denial - in the sense that I deny the existence of the self as a consistent, metaphysical entity. Otherwise, I would just act selfishly in my own life instead of debating this. I do not agree that all concepts of happiness have to be mediocre - they certainly don't have to feel mediocre! - and murdering the soul and psyche... yeah, I don't know about that, I think that freedom to warfare, freedom to cruelty etc. murder much, much more of the human "soul", which you could understand from the victims' perspective.

overman
anti-herd man
amor fati

I'm curious: Do you really think that concepts such as these are helpful in our understanding of what our real-world future should be like?

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Vaniver » Fri May 14, 2010 5:04 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:This is not an argument against enjoyment, its an argument against the type of happiness prescribed by Hedonic Treader and the likes of them.
I understand, but I think by going for wild slashes you miss the piercing strikes. Hedonic Treader desires the ability to not enter relationships without their will; thus, their birth was a crime, for they did not will themselves into existence or into their relationship with their parents. That objection has more pedagogical value than to sneeringly claim that true enjoyment of life requires the hunt, not just the feast.

When you talk about happiness, you seem to be talking about just the feast; but that is not the way all others talk. The 'pursuit of happiness' needs to be structured with the correct understanding of happiness, but once done is identical. The only danger is that the word happiness is misunderstood.

I agree that someone who achieves satisfaction without work is in direst danger- if they do not find something new to work for, they are lost. But it is a mistake to avoid satisfaction without work- for it is necessary to work at grander things.

Hedonic Treader wrote:I'm curious: Do you really think that concepts such as these are helpful in our understanding of what our real-world future should be like?
What do you mean by our?

Nietzsche ultimately speaks to individuals- you can see this through the trick of taste.
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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Fri May 14, 2010 6:43 pm UTC

But isn't taste an individual thing in the first place?

Hedonic Treader desires the ability to not enter relationships without their will; thus, their birth was a crime, for they did not will themselves into existence

This is a great point! Although I think that Hedonic Treader believes the illusion of free choice in the first place (which throws off his whole idea), that is his issue.

Also, I love how his AI has the capacity to gain intelligence, sentience, gain the ability to rule, and yet still has to follow the protocol of non-cruelty. I mean, once you make everyone a heroin addict, it seems that they will do everything by consent. So the future will be ruled by our AI who will force us to work with no food, no nothing, no value except for heroin (to establish more energy for birth and "intergalactic domination").

The truth, he has ousted cruelty to the AI, and humankind simply a tool for its dominance. In which world he imagines that this is a better place, I have no clue.

The 'pursuit of happiness' needs to be structured with the correct understanding of happiness, but once done is identical. The only danger is that the word happiness is misunderstood.

I think this is pretty much my argument? That their happiness is really a poison?

Like I said, the happiness they are speaking of is a way of repression and a murder of the psyche. That it murders the psyche, I don't think I have to argue this, especially against the hedonic AI superuniverse.

I agree that someone who achieves satisfaction without work is in direst danger- if they do not find something new to work for, they are lost. But it is a mistake to avoid satisfaction without work- for it is necessary to work at grander things.

Not really my viewpoint. For one, I think the only difference between work and play is that in playing, you enjoy the action.

Edit: putting the rest of the response after the post below
Last edited by infernovia on Fri May 14, 2010 8:23 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Hedonic Treader » Fri May 14, 2010 8:09 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:Also, I love how his AI has the capacity to gain intelligence, sentience, gain the ability to rule, and yet still has to follow the protocol of non-cruelty. I mean, once you make everyone a heroin addict, it seems that they will do everything by consent. So the future will be ruled by our AI who will force us to work with no food, no nothing, no value except for heroin (to establish more energy for birth and "intergalactic domination").

The truth, he has ousted cruelty to the AI, and humankind simply a tool for its dominance. In which world he imagines that this is a better place, I have no clue.

Again, you treat a deliberately designed AI system as if it were a darwinian primate. It is not a darwinian primate. I pointed this out so many times now that I get tired of it. Maybe you should read this.

Vaniver wrote:Hedonic Treader desires the ability to not enter relationships without their will; thus, their birth was a crime, for they did not will themselves into existence or into their relationship with their parents.

You're right. This crossed my mind as well, and it is indeed an inconsistency. In fact, I do consider the ideal of consent and volition to be secondary to the prevention of suffering. However, in intelligent beings, consent is a good guideline to distinguish between suffering and acceptable modes of experience. For instance, one woman may have a great time being bound, gagged and covered in hot candle wax, while another women might experience the very same situation as torture and rape. The distinction measure being, of course, informed consent. Existence itself is indeed never consensual, and you're right, it conflicts with my ideal. If I could undo the existence of non-consensual suffering by undoing the existence of sentient life itself, I would. But of course, sentient life has existed like this for hundreds of millions of years now, and there's no way to undo that. We have no other choice but to work with the status quo of a broken world.

What do you mean by our?

Sentient life in general. It's fine that Nietzsche speaks to individuals, but the absolute sense of individuality on which people usually base their desicions is almost certainly an illusion.

And if it were not an illusion, why would I, as an absolute individual, need Nietzsche to tell me how to see things?

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Fri May 14, 2010 8:26 pm UTC

Again, you treat a deliberately designed AI system as if it were a darwinian primate. It is not a darwinian primate. I pointed this out so many times now that I get tired of it. Maybe you should read this.

I am not treating it as a darwinian primate, I am treating it as a system that uses darwinian primate as a basis for hedonistic maximization. This is pretty much where I think you are wrong, that if one is looking for hedonistic maximization, one would necessarily use humans for it. Why not use the AI to make a superior animal that reaffirms all of the world, and has a very high tolerance for negativity, and a much bigger tolerance for positive relations?

Some more specific points:
Hedonic Treader wrote:Should one now write a propaganda piece that says, "'We have discovered ascetic happiness', say the Brahmins, and they blink"? Such self-inflicted challenges have a legitimate part in my vision of the future, as long as they are voluntary. Chances are, people will find there are artificially enhanced short-cuts to the thrill that they really value in this.


To be more poetic: "We have discovered ascetic happiness," say the fanatics, and they never close their eyes again. Ascetism is not what the Brahmins had in mind though, their hatred would still make the mark of material pleasure higher. More that, the value of society is not enough for them, that it is beneath them.

Hedonic Treader wrote:No, it is not. To rationalize acceptance of something that you can't control in the first place (such as non-consensual, severe suffering) is nothing but a cheap and very ineffective placebo. What we need instead is the creation of a system in which such misfortune is systematically prevented in terms of real-world causality.

It was actually, and is, a very useful treatment of psychology. And works very well with your pleasure maximization also (I have been born as a cripple, but I enjoy my life). I am not sure how an AI can defeat that kind of pleasure, to be positive in face of everything.

Everyone has a threshold where non-consensual agony becomes a black hole of negativity. This is true for you too, and it has to be taken seriously.

Then eliminate all those who have a low threshold of negativity?

No, and this distinction is really important: It would be untrustworthy to give such power to a darwinian primate. I would not trust myself if I had such power. Humans are neither intelligent nor morally trustworthy enough to be endowed with such power. We are hard-wired with darwinian primal drives, even if they are subconscious. This is why throughout all of history, tyranny has ended up causing much more harm than good, not matter how much utopian ideology was backing it up. And this is exactly why I'm deeply wary of alpha-male idealism. It is a symptom of the darwinian paradigm, not a path into any worthwhile future.

I am not exactly sure how you think an artificial intelligence system, a system created by mere humans, would be superior in any regards to this than regular humans. You are aware of viruses, system malfunctions, bad circuitry, and all of that stuff correct?

In any case, I am completely rocked by your whole humans vs. animals portrayal. I thought the whole point of this was to eliminate involuntary suffering from all beings? I thought the whole point was to make it a shortcut to what we really enjoy? In this case, how would a rat be different than a human?

As for your evaluation of the virtual world, ok, I agree with that idea. As for being a victim of a warlord, no I have not. The question is, have you?

Because the AI is not human. It is not a darwinian primate. It has no sadistic lust for cruelty. It does not want power just for power's sake! Power is a means to an end for such a system, not an end in itself. If it is programmed with a utilitarian supergoal, the end is hedonic maximization, maybe with respect for consent-based personal freedoms.

What does killing all men have to do with power? Seems to me, the superior idea would be to subjugate all men to the fantasy of heroin, kill them all through its persuasion, and then kill itself at the end. For it realizes that it will not be immortal, and that the life after its death would be "unsufferable" and not hedonic at all. So, prevent it from happening in the first place. And yes, I am well aware that everything is determined by chemicals and particles, it just seems weird for an AI to be so knowledgeable about all of this, and still be limited by its "commands."

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Vaniver » Sat May 15, 2010 4:06 am UTC

Hedonic Treader wrote:In fact, I do consider the ideal of consent and volition to be secondary to the prevention of suffering.
I am skeptical of any claim that, by reducing volition, one can prevent suffering. That requires a level of knowledge that I do not think is practically possible.

Hedonic Treader wrote:If I could undo the existence of non-consensual suffering by undoing the existence of sentient life itself, I would.
This statement, in case you were wondering, is why infernovia disagrees with you. Sentience is not worth suffering for; sapience is.

Hedonic Treader wrote:Sentient life in general. It's fine that Nietzsche speaks to individuals, but the absolute sense of individuality on which people usually base their desicions is almost certainly an illusion.

And if it were not an illusion, why would I, as an absolute individual, need Nietzsche to tell me how to see things?
What is this question? If you are an individual, why do you need to hear an idea to think it?

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Hedonic Treader » Sat May 15, 2010 10:32 am UTC

infernovia wrote:In any case, I am completely rocked by your whole humans vs. animals portrayal. I thought the whole point of this was to eliminate involuntary suffering from all beings? I thought the whole point was to make it a shortcut to what we really enjoy? In this case, how would a rat be different than a human?

I am not treating it as a darwinian primate, I am treating it as a system that uses darwinian primate as a basis for hedonistic maximization. This is pretty much where I think you are wrong, that if one is looking for hedonistic maximization, one would necessarily use humans for it. Why not use the AI to make a superior animal that reaffirms all of the world, and has a very high tolerance for negativity, and a much bigger tolerance for positive relations?

In theory, I would be ok with that. But I don't think it's necessary to eliminate intelligence from the equation. Intelligent sentient beings can make more sophisticated choices about their modes of experience. The reason I wanted to get rid of natural ecosystems is that they contain inevitable suffering (real, non-consensual suffering, not Brahman self-inflicted we-deliberately-want-to-feel-a-certain-way kind of "suffering"). This suffering is a systematic property of such ecosystems, and if you're going to replace them anyway with artificial resource cycles, I see no good reason why the resources can't be spent on the hedonic maximization of sapient (more sophisticated) beings instead. But you're right, it's not the highest priority.

[About amor fati:]
It was actually, and is, a very useful treatment of psychology. And works very well with your pleasure maximization also (I have been born as a cripple, but I enjoy my life). I am not sure how an AI can defeat that kind of pleasure, to be positive in face of everything.

I acknowledge that it can have a placebo effect. Better than nothing, but infinitely inferior to the cure, which is the real-world prevention of suffering.

Everyone has a threshold where non-consensual agony becomes a black hole of negativity. This is true for you too, and it has to be taken seriously.

Then eliminate all those who have a low threshold of negativity?

No, prevent them from being tortured. And offer them ways to improve their hedonic offset; future technology can surely implement this in a somewhat safe and reliable way.

I am not exactly sure how you think an artificial intelligence system, a system created by mere humans, would be superior in any regards to this than regular humans. You are aware of viruses, system malfunctions, bad circuitry, and all of that stuff correct?

Right, but that's not an argument against the ethics of the idea in general, it's a technological engineering problem. We don't have super-human intelligence on the planet, humans are all we have to work with. But we've landed on the moon; at least, we know we're capable of some technological problem solving, so it might be enough. Another question would be, is it worth the potential existential risk? And to this, my answer is yes, because I think the status quo of the world is a broken one, and I would not defend it. I would risk it gladly for the potential of something better, more worthwhile.

As for your evaluation of the virtual world, ok, I agree with that idea. As for being a victim of a warlord, no I have not. The question is, have you?

No. The difference here is that I don't dismiss their suffering for the sake of the warlord's freedom. It is psychologically easier to identify with the powerful than with the weak, or dismiss the negativity of real suffering, as long as you're not currently suffering. I suspect this is a bias, and it should not thwart our ability to make good evaluations.

What does killing all men have to do with power? Seems to me, the superior idea would be to subjugate all men to the fantasy of heroin, kill them all through its persuasion, and then kill itself at the end. For it realizes that it will not be immortal, and that the life after its death would be "unsufferable" and not hedonic at all. So, prevent it from happening in the first place. And yes, I am well aware that everything is determined by chemicals and particles, it just seems weird for an AI to be so knowledgeable about all of this, and still be limited by its "commands."

I think some of this could be cleared up if you read more about "Friendly AI". An AI would not be "immortal", but it could have means to safely propagade itself without mutation into the future, and change only those parts that it deems safe to change while preserving its utility function. And it doesn't want to kill sentient life, it wants to create as much "happy" sentient life as possible. The problem, of course, is the definition of happiness, but unlike you, I don't think you need suffering, real-world cruelty or objectively unlimited individual freedom for that. Your reference to heroin is mistaken, by the way, since heroin has nasty side-effects and is in fact destructive to the supergoal of hedonic maximization. There are certainly other ways, especially given future technology.

Vaniver wrote:I am skeptical of any claim that, by reducing volition, one can prevent suffering. That requires a level of knowledge that I do not think is practically possible.

Yes, this is why I wanted to put a focus on intelligent beings rather than wild animals, and this is why I mentioned volition in the first place even though my primary goal would be the prevention of suffering and the maximization of positive modes of experience. In this sense, volition is more of a tool than an end in itself. Even if it could be replaced with, say, brain scanning technologies that can measure well-being, it would still be a part of how we perceive ourselves and our lifes (even though I suspect that this is more illusionary than we assume).

Vaniver wrote:
Hedonic Treader wrote:Sentient life in general. It's fine that Nietzsche speaks to individuals, but the absolute sense of individuality on which people usually base their desicions is almost certainly an illusion.

And if it were not an illusion, why would I, as an absolute individual, need Nietzsche to tell me how to see things?


What is this question? If you are an individual, why do you need to hear an idea to think it?

Knowledge has a cost. Time is always a part; often pain joins it.

Ok, that was easily misunderstood. My point is, if I were an absolute individual, why should I feel obligation to care for anybody's moral claims, or expressions of taste? Why would I care that Ayn Rand thinks self-sacrifice is "immoral", or that Nietzsche felt contempt for the "Last Men"?

I see people readily accept the (false?) assumption that individuality is an absoulte, and that they possess a coherent, time-consistent "soul", or unitary "self", to which the painfulness of their pain, and the pleasantness of their pleasure is somehow bound. And nevertheless, these people turn to authorities for moral or normative guiding. There is a certain irony in reading Nietzsche or Rand with the question in the back of your head: "What should I do?" I think it's hilarious that people really do that, without seeing the irony.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Sat May 15, 2010 4:14 pm UTC

But I don't think it's necessary to eliminate intelligence from the equation... The reason I wanted to get rid of natural ecosystems is that they contain inevitable suffering. This suffering is a systematic property of such ecosystems, and if you're going to replace them anyway with artificial resource cycles, I see no good reason why the resources can't be spent on the hedonic maximization of sapient (more sophisticated) beings instead. But you're right, it's not the highest priority.

First of all, I disagree that the new animal form would have to be not intelligent, he might be very intelligent. And all you are saying is that you want all the rabbits to survive and kill all the wolves. Kill all the rams, and keep all the sheeps.

I think you are misunderstanding me. I see no reason for the existence of humans like you or me in this type of system. Our happiness would cost too much energy for the AI and thus the ability for it to maximize hedonistic pleasure would be limited. So I don't see why it doesn't just use its superbliss as a way to eliminate all of the weaker humans, and keep the ones with no "black holes" and very high tolerance for positivity. In this way, it doesn't have to remake all of the world into a vaccum.

I acknowledge that it can have a placebo effect. Better than nothing, but infinitely inferior to the cure, which is the real-world prevention of suffering.

Except for all those people who make simulations of having a disease. Usually, curing is not just enough.

No, prevent them from being tortured. And offer them ways to improve their hedonic offset; future technology can surely implement this in a somewhat safe and reliable way.

No, this costs way too much energy and effort for the AI. Why would it do that when it can just eliminate the life-form, and then remake another one almost instantly? Hedonistic maximization that allows the murder of animals allows you to murder all those who involuntarily suffer.

Right, but that's not an argument against the ethics of the idea in general, it's a technological engineering problem.

No, it is a super-valid concern if we are talking about an AI that is going to be "immortal" or might as well be. And I tried reading your friendly AI and immediately got turned off by its "philosophy." If it doesn't care about itself, then I am not sure how it is going to survive, and even avoid attacks to it. Not that it really matters, if this AI is said to be intelligent, then it should have eliminated this restriction.

And it doesn't want to kill sentient life, it wants to create as much "happy" sentient life as possible. The problem, of course, is the definition of happiness, but unlike you, I don't think you need suffering, real-world cruelty or objectively unlimited individual freedom for that.

That is not a difference. What you are telling me is that if you create a world in a vacuum, where you can't ever have accidents, where no one can really attack each other, where the sun's energy is totally converted into a life-support system for the humans, your idea would be better. What I am telling you is that to eliminate all accidents, to eliminate all "unfortunate events," would require an enormous energy expenditure from the AI which would be better left creating an animal that can actually handle all of it without dipping too much into the negativity scale.

Edit: Not to mention, you are basically asking for a pre-lived life. Are you really capable of accepting a future that you do not know all the parameters to? All the exclusion will happen after the fact it happened.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Hedonic Treader » Sat May 15, 2010 7:55 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:First of all, I disagree that the new animal form would have to be not intelligent, he might be very intelligent. And all you are saying is that you want all the rabbits to survive and kill all the wolves. Kill all the rams, and keep all the sheeps.

Ah ok, I thought you meant "animal" to imply non-intelligent lifeform. Your part about rabbits and wolves sounds like I have a bias for the prey and a moral fury against the predators. I do not. I personally could enjoy being a predator; it's just that I also rationally accept the suffering of the prey as severely relevant. Therefore, I deem the supergoal of hedonistic maximization to be meaningful, whatever form it takes.

I think you are misunderstanding me. I see no reason for the existence of humans like you or me in this type of system.

You might be right. If so, and if the system really realized its potential for hedonism, these current incarnations of sentience (contemporary humans) could go for all I care, I would not object. I have no self-bias in this. However, this is not how "friendly AI" is currently aimed to be - they want it to be friendly to humans, including volition and personal rights. Let's at least hope that there is still room for hedonism anyway.

Except for all those people who make simulations of having a disease. Usually, curing is not just enough.

What do you mean by making simulations? Attention-seakers who are not really sick? If this is what we should take amor fati to be, it's seems even less of an ideal to me than the placebo.

And I tried reading your friendly AI and immediately got turned off by its "philosophy." If it doesn't care about itself, then I am not sure how it is going to survive, and even avoid attacks to it. Not that it really matters, if this AI is said to be intelligent, then it should have eliminated this restriction.

Of course it cares about itself, but as a sub-goal of its supergoals: If it didn't defend its own existence, it would fail pursuing its supergoals. Similarly, it would object rewriting its supergoals, because that would mean it would fail pursuing them. And it would know this in advance, meaning that it would avoid such a change at all costs, because it is programmed to pursue its supergoals. Here is a paper about basic AI drives - motivations that any reasonably intelligent goal-seeking system would develop. One of them is survival, another one is uncorrupted supergoal maintanance.

That is not a difference. What you are telling me is that if you create a world in a vacuum, where you can't ever have accidents, where no one can really attack each other, where the sun's energy is totally converted into a life-support system for the humans, your idea would be better. What I am telling you is that to eliminate all accidents, to eliminate all "unfortunate events," would require an enormous energy expenditure from the AI which would be better left creating an animal that can actually handle all of it without dipping too much into the negativity scale.

You mean a being (intelligent or not) that is incapable of suffering and that lives life positively, no matter what happens. Hard-wired amor fati, if you will. Something like this (the gradients solution) has been proposed by David Pierce: The idea is to genetically alter humans (and/or other animals) in such a way that they are still functional, but their pain and fear is never really bad, it is just "less good" than their generally brilliant well-being.

I find this very interesting, but I have my doubts that it would work without impeding the aversive functionality of what we percieve as suffering. Additionally, I think that any system that is going to be stable for very long times has to be controlled by a very systematic design approach. Otherwise, darwinian logic would take over again and potentially thwart all attempts for systematic improvements at least mid-term.

Edit: Not to mention, you are basically asking for a pre-lived life. Are you really capable of accepting a future that you do not know all the parameters to? All the exclusion will happen after the fact it happened.

Ah, now that makes me sound like a whimp again. My basic outlook on life is that the world is a purposeless, meaningless accident, and I see no good reason to suffer through agony because of it. It is the status quo, but if I could change that, I would. And if we could pack some brilliant modes of well-being on top of it, why not. The problem is that evolutionary algorithms (the "Darwinian Paradim", as I call it) together with other game-theoretic causality structures systematically prevent a world that works "better" for hedonism than the status quo.

And about "accepting the future": I accept everything that I cannot change. Unlike the amor fati idea, however, I do so without rationalizing it as being "good". The existence of agonizing torture, for instance, is shit, and I accept it only because I don't have the power to change it, not because I "love" that "fate" of the world.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Vaniver » Sat May 15, 2010 10:38 pm UTC

Hedonic Treader wrote:Ok, that was easily misunderstood. My point is, if I were an absolute individual, why should I feel obligation to care for anybody's moral claims, or expressions of taste? Why would I care that Ayn Rand thinks self-sacrifice is "immoral", or that Nietzsche felt contempt for the "Last Men"?

I see people readily accept the (false?) assumption that individuality is an absoulte, and that they possess a coherent, time-consistent "soul", or unitary "self", to which the painfulness of their pain, and the pleasantness of their pleasure is somehow bound. And nevertheless, these people turn to authorities for moral or normative guiding. There is a certain irony in reading Nietzsche or Rand with the question in the back of your head: "What should I do?" I think it's hilarious that people really do that, without seeing the irony.
You don't read Rand for Rand's sake; you read it for yours. While I agree there's some of that misplaced obedience in Objectivism, I don't see why it is bizarre for an individual to seek wisdom or experiences that originate outside themselves.

Indeed, you can see this in the way Nietzsche structures several of his works, by making strident claims without explanation. You need not agree with the claim; you only need to consider it.
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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Sun May 16, 2010 4:05 am UTC

Ah ok, I thought you meant "animal" to imply non-intelligent lifeform. Your part about rabbits and wolves sounds like I have a bias for the prey and a moral fury against the predators. I do not. I personally could enjoy being a predator; it's just that I also rationally accept the suffering of the prey as severely relevant.

I don't know why you would, considering that humans are animals. And it is a bias against the predators, I don't know what you are imagining that it isn't.

All I am saying is that the world you are imagining would still be populated by these rats and sheeps, especially since you are apparently removing reproduction (make all animals female?).

You might be right. If so, and if the system really realized its potential for hedonism, these current incarnations of sentience (contemporary humans) could go for all I care, I would not object. I have no self-bias in this. However, this is not how "friendly AI" is currently aimed to be - they want it to be friendly to humans, including volition and personal rights. Let's at least hope that there is still room for hedonism anyway.

I don't know what you are saying here, if you want maximum hedonism, the friendly AI doesn't even come into the picture. Everybody is a large sacrifice to the religion of happiness.

I find this very interesting, but I have my doubts that it would work without impeding the aversive functionality of what we percieve as suffering. Additionally, I think that any system that is going to be stable for very long times has to be controlled by a very systematic design approach. Otherwise, darwinian logic would take over again and potentially thwart all attempts for systematic improvements at least mid-term.

I find it humorous that you said this, considering your system is going for the "technological aquarium" model. That is, use machinery to remove all the impure elements and life-forms that can break the aesthetic equilibrium that you created. This type of aquarium is a huge investment, it requires you to clean the water a lot, you need power for the machinery, not to mention how careful you have to be with what you add and how much you add. I find it hard to believe that your imagined annihilation of all impure things wouldn't have a huge outbreak of viruses, if not biological warfare from the bacterias. Whereas the natural aquarium model uses specific life forms to compensate for the large amount of impurity that you will have in the system. It also has the added benefit of you not having to clean your water a lot, not having to worry about what you add to the pool, and the elimination of algae explosion. I hope you can see the parallel.

Ah, now that makes me sound like a whimp again.

I usually think wimp, but yeah, thats pretty much the biggest problem I have with your "future" (in fact, that is my primary problem with most of the religion of happiness, except in the Objectivist's case, where it is just muddled). I think you are in the right track in some stuff, but I think you easily believe things that you are discrediting as an illusion, and that you are way too reliant on a machine/someone else living the life for you. Instead of taking what is yours, you seem to be demanding for them (and thus signifying your inferiority). This is also why I didn't like your position in the other threads.

Btw, the simulation thing is much more complicated than you make it out to be. We aren't just talking about actors with imagined fake illness symptoms, but people who create symptoms by their belief in them. Its not about amor fati, but as a comment on what placebos use.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Hedonic Treader » Sun May 16, 2010 11:53 am UTC

infernovia wrote:I don't know why you would, considering that humans are animals. And it is a bias against the predators, I don't know what you are imagining that it isn't.

During this entire discussion, you have completely failed to understand my point about taking an ethically impartial view that identifies both with the winners of conflict and the losers of conflict. This is why you don't understand that ending real-world predatorship is not a bias against the predators, it's a reorganization of the systems in which sentient life exists. You also have not acknowledged the philosophical doubtfulness of a time-consistent metaphysical self that would allow at least Objectivism's call for egoism. Put 1+1 together and you understand why it makes sense to profoundly change the world rather than keep it as it is.

All I am saying is that the world you are imagining would still be populated by these rats and sheeps, especially since you are apparently removing reproduction (make all animals female?).

I already told you that natural ecosystems don't have to be a part of a technologically sophisticated future; the organizing principles of it could be profoundly different than our current world. That includes human nature. You were even on the right path with your idea of a new being that has a differnt hedonic offset. You yourself conceded that it can very well be intelligent. So what's all the talk about female rats and sheeps? This is such a shallow misrepresentation of the potential of an artificial system that was deliberately designed for hedonism.

Everybody is a large sacrifice to the religion of happiness.

Yeah, except for the trillions and trillions of new sentient entities that would exist in a state of profound, perpetual well-being. You know, it's cheap to call an ethical framework a "religion" simply because it doesn't put a focus on your values/projections. Religion usually implies epistemological irrationality (faith), and you won't find that in my world view.

I think you are in the right track in some stuff, but I think you easily believe things that you are discrediting as an illusion, and that you are way too reliant on a machine/someone else living the life for you. Instead of taking what is yours, you seem to be demanding for them (and thus signifying your inferiority).

The fact that you use a word like inferiority shows the fundamental flaw in your reasoning - you still think in terms of tribal primates who built an hierarchical structure of power for maximizing inclusive fitness of their genes. Most of the points I defended since I came into this forum was based on the realization that this entire paradigm is outdated. It exists because the natural world is an accident that functions on darwinian logic. Changing it by means of technology, if possible, is in the extended self-interest of all sentient life. And the AI is not supposed to "live our lives for us", it's our ultimate tool to shape the world in a way that maximizes the well-being of sentient life, rather than keep the accidental game-theoretic structures as they are now, structures that systematically lead to suffering and constant frustration. No wonder people need placebos in the status quo!

technological aquarium... natural aquarium

This distinction may not be as significant as you think. A super-human intelligence can probably come up with structural principles that are different from what we imagine now. This is basically just a question of implementation modes, not a question of ethical goal systems.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Sun May 16, 2010 3:38 pm UTC

Hedonic Treader, I don't know why metaphysical self or w/e matters to the discussion. As I already pointed out, the consciousness and the identity aspect of something is just an abstraction of a process. And reorganizing things against attackers, is still reorganizing things against attackers. Thats like... completely obvious. I think you are trying to imagine some kind of call about fairness, its not. Its just a simple acknowledgement of what you are saying. I am not saying that its a bad thing that you are killing all the rams and wolves, I am saying that you will be killing all the rams and the wolves.

I already told you that natural ecosystems don't have to be a part of a technologically sophisticated future; the organizing principles of it could be profoundly different than our current world. That includes human nature. You were even on the right path with your idea of a new being that has a differnt hedonic offset. You yourself conceded that it can very well be intelligent. So what's all the talk about female rats and sheeps? This is such a shallow misrepresentation of the potential of an artificial system that was deliberately designed for hedonism.

I think its better to say "in the world I imagine." And I am talking about rats and sheeps because rats and sheeps don't cause "involuntary suffering," they aren't predators. They just sit there and become resources for humans. For some reason, you seem to want to annihilate all the animals, and I don't really see why.

Yeah, except for the trillions and trillions of new sentient entities that would exist in a state of profound, perpetual well-being.

Yeah, created by the sacrifice of billions of humans, trillions of mammals, quadrillions of stuff, and quintillions of near microorganisms.

This distinction may not be as significant as you think. A super-human intelligence can probably come up with structural principles that are different from what we imagine now. This is basically just a question of implementation modes, not a question of ethical goal systems.

Uh, no. Annihilating all bacterial infestation (with their enormous capacity of evolution), viral outbreaks is not even close to non-trivial. You are giving them free reign by only creating one type of species (if you go this route).

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby Hedonic Treader » Sun May 16, 2010 4:13 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:
Yeah, except for the trillions and trillions of new sentient entities that would exist in a state of profound, perpetual well-being.

Yeah, created by the sacrifice of billions of humans, trillions of mammals, quadrillions of stuff, and quintillions of near microorganisms.

The point about killing humans was brought up by you, because you thought it would be inefficient to let them live and make them happy. However, if the AI were programmed with a supergoal of protecting intelligent life rather than pure hedonic maximization, it would try to prevent loss of human life. It would then try to make the existing humans happy within the restrictions, and maximize hedonic value otherwise.

As for the animals, I really don't see why you're so upset about their loss. Artificial resource cycles don't need animals, so if the AI has a better way to produce hedonic value (e.g. brains-in-vats, intelligent beings free from suffeing etc.), I don't see why it would keep the current state of biodiversity intact. I also don't see why it should be an ethical goal to do so.

Uh, no. Annihilating all bacterial infestation (with their enormous capacity of evolution), viral outbreaks is not even close to non-trivial.

Sure, no potenital solution to the problem of suffering is trivial. That doesn't change the fact that it's an engineering problem, and engineering problems have solutions. We haven't even begun to scan the solution-space thoroughly, for most people it's not even a part of their goal system.

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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Sun May 16, 2010 10:17 pm UTC

This is getting to be a pedantic argument, congratulations.

a) What is your goal? Maximizing hedonization, aka, maximizing hedonistic states of consciousness with the amount of energy possible.
b) How are you trying to achieve your goal? By creating a vacuum that rejects anything that is negative to it.
c) What is the problem? The rejection is going to take soooo much energy, that you cannot maximize the amount of life forms that you can support (most of the energy will be devoted to the rejection, as you cannot even STUMBLE in the new world).
d) Why is this a problem? We have already tried creating such a space in earth, trying to create macroscopic life forms in the potatoes for fast food etc. The elimination of bacteria and such negative accidents is a significant part of the cost. This energy would be better spent on creating more life forms.
e) What is a superior solution? Allow the life forms to dip into negativity and have impurity in the system, but allow the life form to have the ability to deal with it and come back into world affirmation. This allows you to form a lot more life forms.

Animals:
If we are wiping out all the animals that involuntary suffer, why would it wipe out rabbits and sheeps? I still don't understand why it would do so, especially if you are keeping humans there.

SnakesNDMartyrs
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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby SnakesNDMartyrs » Mon May 17, 2010 12:25 am UTC

Why do you want to eliminate suffering?

Why is maximizing happiness so important?
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infernovia
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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Mon May 17, 2010 12:58 am UTC

My guess is because it is the most superficial way of feeling good.

SnakesNDMartyrs
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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby SnakesNDMartyrs » Mon May 17, 2010 1:39 am UTC

infernovia wrote:My guess is because it is the most superficial way of feeling good.


Well happiness is generally directly related to feeling good so that is kind of tautological. My point is why is feeling good so much more important than anything else?
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infernovia
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Re: Nihilism, The Last Man

Postby infernovia » Mon May 17, 2010 1:51 am UTC

Because the world is valueless, as HT says, he wishes that the world wouldn't make him feel bad. But this doesn't have any transcendent value, its just because he would rather not feel bad.

I guess I will let HT defend his position, I don't really know how to live in this type of scenario.


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