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    Thread: Transhumanist ethical relativism

    1. #1
      Basketball Player kidjordan's Avatar
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      Transhumanist ethical relativism

      ‎" Maybe posthuman ethics will be inconceivably different to its human precursors — though if we ever "transcend" the pleasure-pain axis, would anything matter?"

      This question has been vexing me for some time now. We seem to be very close to the point where it is technologically feasible to completely control our emotions. However, utilitarian ethics serves as a guide for our external actions so that we can attempt to control our internal states. Once we can do this technologically, then the purpose of utilitarian ethics has been met. It is no longer a useful tool. We are left with meaninglessness. However, it won't bother us because we can artificially regulate our happiness. What are your thoughts?

      Post-Darwinian Ethics?


      also,

      "With sufficient ability to intervene in my own neurology, I could make any
      experience in the world highly pleasurable or highly displeasurable. I could
      make sex suck and staring at paint drying the greatest thing ever. It scares
      some people to think that the connection between pleasure and experiences
      is entirely arbitrary and not based on some deeper philosophical meaning,
      but too bad. We will likely choose to preserve sex as a highly pleasurable
      activity, but perhaps other people will decide to elevate philosophical
      discovery or artistic creativity to a higher pleasure level than sex. That’s
      entirely their [arbitrary] decision."

    2. #2
      Xei
      UnitedKingdom Xei is offline
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      Do arbitrary pleasures really lead to arbitrary moral codes?
      PhilosopherStoned and Isadore like this.

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      I would also like point out that I would not use the word "happiness" to describe technologically produced chemical balance in my body that makes me feel gitty. I can feel happy even thought I am suffering, because I know I am doing the right thing for me. You could say that there is no deeper philosophical meaning, but in that case you are only seeing human body from physiological machine.
      Jujutsu is the gentle art. It's the art where a small man is going to prove to you, no matter how strong you are, no matter how mad you get, that you're going to have to accept defeat. That's what jujutsu is.

    4. #4
      Basketball Player kidjordan's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Do arbitrary pleasures really lead to arbitrary moral codes?
      Well, if you are a utilitarian they do. Right?

      "I would also like point out that I would not use the word "happiness" to describe technologically produced chemical balance in my body that makes me feel gitty. I can feel happy even thought I am suffering, because I know I am doing the right thing for me. You could say that there is no deeper philosophical meaning, but in that case you are only seeing human body from physiological machine."

      Well, I view the mind as correlated with the brain. It's not just making you feel giddy or high; it's making watching paint dry feel like the most profound thing in the universe. And to me feeling happy while suffering seems contradictory. Could you provide a concrete example?

    5. #5
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      Muscles burning, heart pounding as you near the finish far in the lead.
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      The ability to happily respond to any adversity is the divine.
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    6. #6
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      I don't seen suffering and happiness as opposites, thus I don't see any contradiction.

      Poor children stealing for food and caught later on. One confesses the whole incident on himself and regardless of the punishment, feels happy because his family and friends get something to eat.

      Mother saving her children from the burning house, gets everyone out but blacks out before getting out herself. ( lots of "outs" ) Later at hospital suffers incredible pain from burning wounds, but is happy that her children are safe.

      There are lots of examples as long as you perceive that there are other people on this planet than yourself. Although, I can reflect this both emotions at the same time in my own self.

      Well, I view the mind as correlated with the brain. It's not just making you feel giddy or high; it's making watching paint dry feel like the most profound thing in the universe.
      I would not necessarily see mind and brain as same. Brain gives mind the biological functions and frame, but we are far from that scientifical progress to call them same. We don't even know how memory exactly works or is it as limited as we think it is. We know so little of our own body and especially our mind.

      The progress you are explaining, modifying the neurological frame is more complex than that, I am afraid. Feeling of euphonia and joy comes from the chemicals released in the body, however, it is not that simple. In order to release those chemicals, sufficient input must be made. In adrenaline it is excitement or fear, in endorfines it is physical overextension or great joy. Now if you want to make someone believe that drying paint is fun and most profound thing in the universe, you must first remove all existent memories and basically brainwash the person completely. In that case, I don't think we are even near of that progress. It is not as simple as altering neurological pathways to give certain message to the brain. Eyes only see that paint, brains progress it. Earlier experiences and values that you have developed during your life affect how you respond to the sensory information. As such even if looking paint gave me chemical joy, my mind would resist that there are lot more interesting things to do. Of course, there is a chance that you could become chemical junkie as some research on the mouses suggest ( Karl Deisseroth)

      If someday such technology is accessible. Well, I am not quite sure if we can be called humans anymore. Maybe we are something else then.
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      Jujutsu is the gentle art. It's the art where a small man is going to prove to you, no matter how strong you are, no matter how mad you get, that you're going to have to accept defeat. That's what jujutsu is.

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      I believe that in a post-human future, ethics would be completely turned on the head. I cherish life because it won't last forever for me. It's what makes it worth living. I personally do not believe technology will help one transcend reality... it will only provide an illusion of transcendence. Technologically-sustained infinity is, to me, just eternal materialism. Some argue it's learning everything there is to know about the universe; I believe it's living in fear of the unknown.

      Pleasure requires pain, contextually. If you are living in constant pleasure, so much so that you have no comparison, it becomes meaningless. Without the contrast of pain, pleasure loses its value. Without night, you cannot describe day. Without dark, you cannot describe light. (The Tao has many thoughtful ideas.)
      Last edited by ThePreserver; 09-07-2011 at 07:03 PM.

    8. #8
      Basketball Player kidjordan's Avatar
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      I would say that there is a huge difference between physical pain (running,burns, punishment) and emotional pain (depression, loss, anger). They are probably processed in different parts of the brain and the only similarity between them is linguistic (although I have not reviewed the scientific literature so I can't claim the previous statement for sure).

      I personally do not believe technology will help one transcend reality... it will only provide an illusion of transcendence. Technologically-sustained infinity is, to me, just eternal materialism.
      I don't know what type of transcendence you are referring to. I think most transhumanists are atheists and materialists. Obviously, it would be very hard to emulate consciousness on a computer if there were such thing as a soul that resided somewhere distinct from our brain.

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      Physical pain is physical only for a brief moment untill it is intertwined with emotional pain.

      If you want pure emotional examples then for example this might be adequate : you and your friend are on an exam and your friend is cheating from your papers. Depending on your moral standing and personality you might turn him in and feel very bad that you have betrayed your friend, but still you are happy that you have done the right thing. Or your teacher questions you about you and your friend having the exact same answers. If you don't turn him in you both fail the test. You stick with him, fail the test, feel miserable and disappoint your professor and your parents etc but you are happy that you stood by your friend in the mess you are both in.

      Rambling, rambling...
      Jujutsu is the gentle art. It's the art where a small man is going to prove to you, no matter how strong you are, no matter how mad you get, that you're going to have to accept defeat. That's what jujutsu is.

    10. #10
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      Now if you want to make someone believe that drying paint is fun and most profound thing in the universe, you must first remove all existent memories and basically brainwash the person completely.
      Or give them a hit of good acid.

    11. #11
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      Quote Originally Posted by kidjordan View Post
      I don't know what type of transcendence you are referring to. I think most transhumanists are atheists and materialists. Obviously, it would be very hard to emulate consciousness on a computer if there were such thing as a soul that resided somewhere distinct from our brain.
      I guess what I'm saying is, existing forever takes any value (at least to me) out of existence. At some point, wouldn't one run out of meaningful experiences? Materialism may bring temporary joy, but I don't see how it could bring long-term happiness. It just seems, as I've mentioned before, like a fear of the unknown, taking a step into that which follows all life naturally, death.

    12. #12
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      Ethics don't come from emotions, or pleasure. You don't do good things because it feels good but because it is the right thing to do. Some times doing the right thing doesn't make you happy but you do it anyway because you believe you should. Logic and understanding plays a very important role in things. One could say empathy is an entirely emotional thing, but it isn't all emotional. It can be very logical. You can gain empathy by understanding other people's view, it is a kind of insight related to understanding.

      Lets take someone dying. You might say you don't want someone to die because it makes you feel sad. That can be true, but a lot of people will miss the person because they were an interesting person. Even if you are not sad, and feel no emotion, you would still miss the person because you lost the ability to talk and interact with them. The person was intellectually stimulating to converse with, and if you lost that, you would lose something very important, regardless of emotions.

      Of course, in a transhuman situation people wouldn't control their emotions. They would enhance them, and probably find ways to create new and interesting emotions. As you learn and experience new things, new emotions will show up naturally and as we do things impossible to comprehend now it wouldn't be surprising to find new emotions.

      Realistically why would you sit at home and turn of your pleasure sensation and stare at the wall, when you could be out exploring space or something? While other transhumanist are out expanding their mind to new levels you are turning your brain into mash potatoes?
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