Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Bad News

Here's a link < > providing an overview of the negative human condition. After offering an outline of human suffering, the author goes on to suggest a few ways the problem might be approached, which mainly boil down to a rather simple mandate, namely: DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Now, I'm not so pessimistic as to suggest that productive steps can't be taken to allay at least some human misery. In fact, let's take the bold step here of concretizing the hedonistic ideal of the transhumanists; that some day all suffering, physical and psychological, will be overcome through technology and positive bio-transformation. Perhaps one day humans will come to resemble a cross between the Borg and the Teletubbies, where resistance will be futile only because there is nothing further to resist. I mean, barring some possibly insurmountable, unforeseen barrier(s), it COULD happen(?)

But even the most pollyannish proponents of such an herculean task MUST have at least SOME notion of the time such a thing might take to achieve. And in the meantime? How many more human lives, with the attendant percentages of suffering?

I like to call this justification of breeding toward some future paradise the 'cannon fodder' argument, whereby we launch our future generations into the gap between now, and some hopeful shangri-la. Thus our abstract, vicarious (and imagined) immortality shall be assured.
I've also heard folks like Dennis Prager advocate the same idea, somewhat pared down, as a European solution to stave off the invading hordes of Islamibreeders. In fact, he has labelled a couple limiting themselves to bearing only one child: 'selfish'. What next- who's gonna pay my social security?

So, here's a note to any future Walden Twoarian who might happen to pass this way: Hey! Your pleasure dome is built on the bones of an eon of where you step.


TGGP said...

A site advocating a "hedonic imperative" is at

Mitchell said...

Transhumanism plus antinatalism is the combination I advocate.

your host said...

Welcome, mitchell. I just visited your site; nice article.

I agree that antinatalism and transhumanism are generally compatible, though I have a couple of thoughts...

1)I'm not sure the transhumanist utopias I've read about are possible; most of them seem to contain ingredients which are highly speculative.

2) Having acheived utopia, can it be maintained; protected from disruptive forces both from within, and without. Doubtful, IMO.

3) What if happiness is an ultimately relative affair, the extreme of which can only be acheived through the existence of the extreme at the other end, i.e. Aquinas assumed that the residents of heaven would have a window into hell, a comparative situation that he argued would actually boost the happiness level of heaven's denizens. Perhaps, without the primal, polar dichotomy, there is just some sort of emotional numbness. Just speculating here.

Still, I resonate with your take on existence as it stands, and I don't for a moment believe that antinatalism equals suicide. A person might be the happiest guy on the planet, and still not wish to roll the dice concerning other, potential lives. It's all about the simple recognition of the odds, and the risks involved. And, of course, the death sentence automatically imposed on every new life.

Thanks for the comment, mitchell.

Anonymous said...

Intelligence demands we reject breeding more humans.

Denial demands we reject intelligence.

Obviously most humans value denial over intelligence.

I am a happy person, I think, though haven't always been. But I take little comfort in my own happiness. There is nothing but suffering in all directions. My own happiness doesn't mean a thing so long as anyone else is suffering, of any species. To claim that all that matters is me, and my pleasure, is the most hedonic view of all, yet that's exactly what traditional thinking promotes.

As for my own content focuse, I can meditate the balls off a brass statue, and stay calm in the middle of getting struck by lightning or facing my own death in an ambulance. But that doesn't mean squat. I'd give it all up to be able to spare suffering for all beings.

I'm no bodhisattva, just a pessimist nihilist atheist or something. There was no way I could consider condemning another person to the crapshoot of life and its inevitable anguish.

I always thought that the Jesus myth (which comes out of other ancient Near Eastern vegetation deities) derives from the deep human understanding that any decent person would be willing to die to save all others from hell. Unfortunately people who believe that as a religious truth seem to be among the most violent and cruel people on earth.

your host said...

That's an interesting take on the Jesus thing; with all the hubbub concerning the alleged atonement and resurrection, your take on the psychological underpinnings of the sacrifice itself aren't often addressed. Refreshing.