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  1. #21
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    I'm not sure I can accept the way bluewing has even framed the question in the first place. There are definitely some metaphysical assumptions here that I'm not sure I like.

    First of all, I'd like to attack the notion that there are "things" that are in and of themselves "good" or "bad." As first pointed out by AJ Ayer, to say that something is good or bad is not an empirical statement- there is no well defined test based on sensory experience we could carry out to see if such a statement holds. Thus, from a positivist perspective, ethical statements are meaningless. Statements such as "killing is right" and "charity is wrong" are not about killing and charity themselves so much as they are about our emotional reactions to killing and charity. To define ethics as the discipline that is concerned with what is right and what is wrong presupposes the existence of well-defined categories "right" and "wrong" which exist a priori- our job is just to figure out how to put the world in these categories. This is getting awfully close to presupposing platonic metaphysics to even get ethics started in the first place. The existence of such categories is not an empirical question. I would assert that from a positivist perspective, ethical claims are not true or false.

    I would also like to contest the claim that the ultimate goal of all human activity is the acquisition of happiness. From an evolutionary perspective, the animal that maximizes its own chance of survival and reproduction is the one that is most likely to pass on its genes, not the animal that is the most happy. Thus, it follows that our behaviors and emotions are designed in a manner that will lead to action that preserves the survival of our species. Achievement of long term happiness is not conducive to maximizing survival chances if a strong dose of fear and self-hatred is useful in getting us to go out into the wild and go hunting. Furthermore, the structure of our brain, designed by evolutionary forces, is not designed to fit into a simple philosophical model of human behavior. As argued in "Stumbling on Happiness" by Daniel Gilbert, we simply do not know what makes us happy much of the time. If we are to take bluewing's ethical system then, we simply do not have any way of learning about ethics, because we are unreliable judges of our own future happiness.-
    ------------------------------------------------
    I'd also like to propose an alternative formulation of ethics, based upon Wittgenstein's assertion that ethics and aesthetics are one and the same. The foundation of ethics is the alogical (but most certainly NOT illogical) "value judgement" that something is ethical or unethical. To say that something is ethical is a statement about your perception of the aesthetic value of the world, not a statement about the object itself. Killing is wrong because there is something emotionally awful about the destruction of another life, and the only foundation of such a judgement is our emotional response, which is independent of logic and reason. This is entirely analogous to how we judge a work of art, whether a picture of a puppy is adorable, or anything else that is not solely empirical.

    This alogical foundation of our ethics is not exactly the subject matter of studying ethics. While fundamentally it is this emotional foundation that is really what matters, we cannot speak of it directly. This is where human empathy becomes useful. Whether philosophical discussion, art and literature, or less "highbrow" (but not less valuable) methods are at hand, the purpose of ethics is to extract the commonalities of our ethical/aesthetic reactions to the world. Language and culture are organic entities based upon the signaling games we play to coordinate our inner emotional states. We cannot talk about these states directly, but human behavior and its empathic foundation allow us some power in communicating them, even if they must exist outside of the method of their communication. I would define an action to be ethical if that is simply the consensus value judgment expressed in a culture. "In a culture" is needed so that these methods of communication can actually coordinate people's emotional states, since there is no good notion of consensus of people who have no method of agreeing or disagreeing.

  2. #22
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    I'm not sure I can accept the way bluewing has even framed the question in the first place. There are definitely some metaphysical assumptions here that I'm not sure I like..
    I defined right as simply what conduces to the long-term happiness of the individual. Ayer's criticism of the 'good' and 'bad', 'right' or 'wrong' notions are not relevant to how I have defined them. Ayer was only concerned with the way they tend to be defined in literature. The way I have defined them is clearly different from that.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    First of all, I'd like to attack the notion that there are "things" that are in and of themselves "good" or "bad." As first pointed out by AJ Ayer, to say that something is good or bad is not an empirical statement- there is no well defined test based on sensory experience we could carry out to see if such a statement holds...
    What is clearly true is that certain things make certain people experience positive emotion. Other things lead people to experience negative emotions. For example, eating chocolate, under certain circumstances makes certain people feel pleasure. This does not mean that chocolate in itself is good, it means that chocolate could be used to produce pleasure. I define good as the same as long-term pleasure.

    Ayer asserted that there is no empirical way to test what activities conduce to long term happiness? Ayer also asserted that it is not possible to empirically test under what circumstances people experience pleasure?

    That strikes me as unpersuasive. We could amass a crowd of people who shall volunteer to engage in a number of experiences. Such as for example eating chocolate, or riding bicycles. After each activity, they will report their emotive state to us. They will tell us for example that before they have embarked upon the activity they felt a certain way, and they will report how they felt after they have completed the activity. If we for instance notice a correlation between people who first reported they were feeling slightly depressed, and after having consumed chocolate, their mood elevated, we could state that under certain circumstances eating chocolate conduces to pleasure.

    We could conduct further elaborate studies with regard to acquisition of insight concerning what activities induce positive emotion within people in relation to their circumstances and their personal dispositions. As a result of such studies we shall have a more clear idea regarding what activities conduce to happiness.

    Hence, activities that do conduce to happiness are right or good.

    If it is possible for us to know what activities do conduce to happiness or do generate positive emotion, ethics, as I have defined the term is possible.



    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    I would assert that from a positivist perspective, ethical claims are not true or false....
    I ate chocolate last night and I felt good after I did so. This statement can be regarded as true or false.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    I would also like to contest the claim that the ultimate goal of all human activity is the acquisition of happiness. ....
    Your claim has been noted.


    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    From an evolutionary perspective, the animal that maximizes its own chance of survival and reproduction is the one that is most likely to pass on its genes, not the animal that is the most happy. Thus, it follows that our behaviors and emotions are designed in a manner that will lead to action that preserves the survival of our species. ....
    What you have rightly pointed out is that our strongest unconscious tendency is to propagate. However, the reason why we are motivated to propagate, or in the strictest sense of the word to breed is because we associate a positive sentiment with the instinct to breed. Hence, the acquisition of happiness or positivity of sentiment is the reason why we wish to propagata. In condensed form, we would not have such a strong drive to propagata if doing so did not generate a positive sentiment.





    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    Furthermore, the structure of our brain, designed by evolutionary forces, is not designed to fit into a simple philosophical model of human behavior. ....
    I am not sure if I understand the idea that you have in mind. I am not suggesting one model to be adapted by all persons. What conduces to the lont-term happiness of the individual depends on his psychological dispositions and his extrinsic circumstances. What may work for one person may not work for the other.

    It is clearly the case that it is possible to devise a model of behavior for each person, granted that we have all the necessary information about each person, that will conduce to his happiness more than any other course of action.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    As argued in "Stumbling on Happiness" by Daniel Gilbert, we simply do not know what makes us happy much of the time.....
    That is true. However, this will change after a very careful investigation of this phenomenon.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    If we are to take bluewing's ethical system then, we simply do not have any way of learning about ethics, because we are unreliable judges of our own future happiness.-.....
    That appears to be what Gilbert has suggested. However, there is nothing in my writings that suggests that we incapable of knowing what makes us happy. I have maintained the opposite of this, namely that critical analysis of our psychological dispositions and our external circumstances will enable us to know what is conducive to our long term happiness.
    ------------------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    I'd also like to propose an alternative formulation of ethics, based upon Wittgenstein's assertion that ethics and aesthetics are one and the same..-.....
    Certainly a thesis worth discussing.


    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    The foundation of ethics is the alogical (but most certainly NOT illogical) "value judgement" that something is ethical or unethical. To say that something is ethical is a statement about your perception of the aesthetic value of the world, not a statement about the object itself...-.....
    Indeed. However, we are concerned here not with the object, but with how the object relates to your pursuit of happiness. We are concerned with what kind of an emotional reaction an object emits within you. The moral worth of an activity is determined by how much it conduces to your long-term happiness.
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  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    I defined right as simply what conduces to the long-term happiness of the individual. Ayer's criticism of the 'good' and 'bad', 'right' or 'wrong' notions are not relevant to how I have defined them.
    There is nothing wrong with your definition, but it does not sidestep Ayer's criticism. You now have this new notion "long term happiness" to play with instead of "right"- definitions are simply a way of turning language into other language and never entirely solve your problem.


    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    Ayer asserted that there is no empirical way to test what activities conduce to long term happiness? Ayer also asserted that it is not possible to empirically test under what circumstances people experience pleasure?
    While Ayer never said exactly this, I think he would agree that until we have a good empirical meaning of happiness (whether its brain chemistry, psychological tests, or something else we use as our measure) that claims about what does and does not make people happy would be empirically meaningless. The way people use the word "happiness" in everyday conversation is so complex and varied that I don't think that maximizing happiness is a particularly sound foundation for an ethical system.
    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    After each activity, they will report their emotive state to us.
    How exactly will this work? You can't assume there's this thing called our emotive state that is well-defined and communicable. Who says people can even in principle report such a thing?








    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    In condensed form, we would not have such a strong drive to propagata if doing so did not generate a positive sentiment.
    From an evolutionary perspective, you have the causality wrong. Because animals who reproduce are the ones that continue existing, it is evolutionarily useful for us to be made happy by reproduction. My point here is that our emotional state is structured with the preservation of our species as the goal, and that happiness or unhappiness is just an accidental byproduct of this process. Furthermore, our brain structure, which I personally believe is the foundation of all concious experience, evolved in a way to maximize our survival. Thus, because our conciousness is implicitly designed with the goal of survival, there need not be any sort of order to our mental states that can be reduced to something like "happiness." Language is simply too clean to directly deal with the self-referential mess of conciousness that we evolved. Because of the essentially accidental structure of our thoughts, I don't even in principle think there is any way to know how happy someone is. I don't think emotions (or even holistic mental states) have any absolute metaphysical identity. The brain is built for decentralized processing, so I don't think its easy to assign any adjectives to its holistic state.


    Overall, I think you need to be skeptical of intuitive concepts such as happiness as being able to truly describe our psychological state. Any philosophy based on "folk psychology" as describing human nature will necessarily be just as ill-defined as the vocabulary it uses. I don't think so much that we are mistaken about what makes us happy in the long run so much as I don't even think such a concept really is meaningful on a foundational level.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    There is nothing wrong with your definition, but it does not sidestep Ayer's criticism. You now have this new notion "long term happiness" to play with instead of "right"- definitions are simply a way of turning language into other language and never entirely solve your problem..
    The idea that you seem to have in mind is that emotive gratification or happiness is a very fuzzy notion. For this reason, we are unable to accurately depict it. That is true. However, it is certainly not the case that we have no idea at all with regard to how happy we may feel. If it was the case that we truly do not know anything at all about our emotive state, we would not bother having conversations like, "how are you", or "does this work for you", and so on. When someone says, "yes, this is better", what they mean is indeed this makes them happier. Of course they do not know exactly to what degree it makes them happier or why it does, as this notion is fuzzy, yet it is manifest that they have some knowledge with regard to their emotive state. Let me provide an even simpler example. A patient in the hospital who is afflicted with severe pain is constantly screaming, if he were to be asked how he could be helped, he would state that he wishes to receive pain-killers. After having taken the pain-killers, the patient will report a much more content state of mind. This shows that to a certain degree we are indeed capable of gauging the level of positive emotion within us.


    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    How exactly will this work? You can't assume there's this thing called our emotive state that is well-defined and communicable. Who says people can even in principle report such a thing?.
    If that was the case, we would have no reason at all to provide pain-killers to the patients in agony. This claim appears to be manifestly false.








    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    From an evolutionary perspective, you have the causality wrong.?.
    It is persuasive that our strongest drive is to reproduce. However, the question that I ask is, what does it mean to have a drive? Or what does it mean to be motivated. In order to be incited into action, one needs to have positive emotion associated with the action. As one naturally gravitates towards actions that make one feel good. This is the case even for the masochists, who shall report an increased level of positive emotion after having imposed self-punishment upon themselves.

    We associate positive emotion with activities akin to reproduction. The reason why this appears to be true is because our unconscious mind is very disorganized. The drive to reproduce is very complex. It requires careful deliberation for one to concoct a plan which will lead to successful reproduction. In short, one needs to think in a structured manner in order to cocncot a complex plan that one needs in order to reproduce. One cannot have such a plan ingrained in one's instincts because our unconscious mind tends not to work in a purposeful fashion. Feeling good is a very simple notion, in order for one to desire that, structured thinking is not required. Yet structured thinking is required to have an idea of what it means to propagate and how exactly one could achieve propagation.

    Let me provide an example. Suppose we are studying the most primitive species possible. For the sake of the example, lets assume that they are the very first species. They have not learned any skills necessary to survive, they have no idea at all what means to survive, or whether or not it is desirable at all. When they taste strawberry for example, they feel good, and it is a very simple sensation that they can easily recognize. They will eat strawberry again not because they feel it somehow conduces to their reproduction (they cannot possibly know anything about that), but because they remember having felt good after having eaten strawberry. Shortly after, the species will have experienced sexual intercourse, or by whatever other means they reproduce. The emotion they have associated with this activity was positive also. Hence, they chose to engage in that activity again for the same reason they chose to eat strawberry again. Only after a long period of time of having associated a positive sentiment with reproduction, the species were led to value reproduction. The positive sentiment associated with such reproduction was so strong that it became one of our strongest drives. For this reason today, the thinking of most animals appears to be structured in such a way that they inevitably gravitate towards propagation.





    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    My point here is that our emotional state is structured with the preservation of our species as the goal, and that happiness or unhappiness is just an accidental byproduct of this process...
    I have explained why exactly that is the case. Namely because self-preservation is associated with a highly positive sentiment. Without this thesis, the claim that the primary drive of man is to preserve oneself is foundationless. Hence, the conclusion that we have arrived at is that the fundamental unconscious drive of an animal is to seek pleasure, and self-preservation is a set of activities that the animal has deemed to be most conducive to generation of pleasure.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    Furthermore, our brain structure, which I personally believe is the foundation of all concious experience, evolved in a way to maximize our survival....
    Only because such an activity was deemed to be conducive to generation of positive sentiment within an animal.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    Thus, because our conciousness is implicitly designed with the goal of survival, there need not be any sort of order to our mental states that can be reduced to something like "happiness."....
    It was designed this way only because at some point animals were led to associate self-preservation with a positive sentiment. If this is not the case, what is the reason for such a design?

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    Language is simply too clean to directly deal with the self-referential mess of conciousness that we evolved. Because of the essentially accidental structure of our thoughts, I don't even in principle think there is any way to know how happy someone is. I don't think emotions (or even holistic mental states) have any absolute metaphysical identity. The brain is built for decentralized processing, so I don't think its easy to assign any adjectives to its holistic state.."....

    Language is indeed very simple. However, the idea akin to "I feel good" (when someone gives me hot tea on a very cold day) or "I feel hot" when I go out on a hot summer day is very simple. Simple enough to depicted by our language.
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  5. #25
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    The examples you use to depict the possibility of reporting our emotional state definitely all work as you have described them. However, these are all situations where the word happiness is used in the context of real life, not as the foundation of a philosophical system. This is fundamentally where I quibble with how you use the word happiness- as something universal in and of itself. The "language-game" a patient and doctor play with the word pain allows them to synchronize their actions in a way to lead to good medical treatment. However, someone on a shrink's couch will use the word pain in a very different way- the rules of the language-game a shrink plays are different from the language-game a doctor plays with patients. Outside of such cultural context, I don't think you can necessarily ascribe meaning to words. My quibble is not with how vague everyday language is- language serves its purpose as it must. My problem is that you are taking this word "happiness" and making it so general as to become meaningless. When we ask "how are you" and similar such questions, there is a whole array of implicit contextual rules on how we use our words that are not present when we try to speak about abstract philosophical concepts.

    I don't mean to insult, but I genuinely think you misunderstand evolutionary theory from your response. Natural selection is necessarily the only driving force of evolution- this positive sentiment you refer to is necessarily a byproduct that was created for the purpose of survival. I think you would have to invoke a notion of god to even have "positive sentiment" to mean something outside of the evolved consciousness (which was evolved for the purpose of survival, not for the purpose of happiness) of a specific creature.

  6. #26
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    The examples you use to depict the possibility of reporting our emotional state definitely all work as you have described them. However, these are all situations where the word happiness is used in the context of real life, not as the foundation of a philosophical system. This is fundamentally where I quibble with how you use the word happiness- as something universal in and of itself. The "language-game" a patient and doctor play with the word pain allows them to synchronize their actions in a way to lead to good medical treatment. However, someone on a shrink's couch will use the word pain in a very different way- the rules of the language-game a shrink plays are different from the language-game a doctor plays with patients. Outside of such cultural context, I don't think you can necessarily ascribe meaning to words. My quibble is not with how vague everyday language is- language serves its purpose as it must. My problem is that you are taking this word "happiness" and making it so general as to become meaningless. When we ask "how are you" and similar such questions, there is a whole array of implicit contextual rules on how we use our words that are not present when we try to speak about abstract philosophical concepts...
    Have you even read my OP?

    Where on earth do you see evidence of me regarding happiness as a general claim? One that applies to all entities? I have specifically stated that what is desirable is what conduces to the positive sentiment of the individual. This means the individual only.

    I do not mean to insult, but unfortunately such propositions are merely vagaries of your imagination.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    I don't mean to insult, but I genuinely think you misunderstand evolutionary theory from your response..

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    Natural selection is necessarily the only driving force of evolution- this positive sentiment you refer to is necessarily a byproduct that was created for the purpose of survival...
    You must explain how that is true. Furthermore the claim that you have failed to answer is how exactly we have a drive towards natural selection?

    Do you mean to suggest that when a monkey likes strawberry it likes strawberry because it is thinking about how it should reproduce and not because it has an impulse that strawberry feels good?

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    I think you would have to invoke a notion of god to even have "positive sentiment" to mean something outside of the evolved consciousness (which was evolved for the purpose of survival, not for the purpose of happiness) of a specific creature.
    I have no idea at all how the idea of god is useful to proposition that a positive sentiment is necessary to support the proposition that there is such a thing as a good feeling from the perspective of one animal, or one human being. On the contrary, your thesis would benefit from the idea of god. You maintain that we are merely designed in a way that our strongest drive is towards evolution, yet refuse to explain how that is the case. So, you might as well just say god designed us that way, and that is why the case is such.

    You need to go back and respond to my argument which explains why we favor activities conducive to reproduction. In short, the thesis that the drive to reproduce is more influential than the drive for positivity of sentiment is just as absurd as claiming that a monkey likes strawberry because it knows strawberry conduces to the propagation of itself and not because the strawberry merely feels good. Quite intelligent such a monkey would be. Moreover, the proposition that the drive for reproduction is more influential in the psyche of an animal than the drive for a positive sentiment presupposes that an animal more easily accesses a complex idea (such as reproduction) than a simple idea (such as feeling good). This contravenes a truism with regard to basic principles of psychology. Animals more easily acquire skills and insights that are easier to understand than those that are complex.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    Have you even read my OP?

    Where on earth do you see evidence of me regarding happiness as a general claim? One that applies to all entities? I have specifically stated that what is desirable is what conduces to the positive sentiment of the individual. This means the individual only.
    What I'm challenging is the idea that the "positive sentiment of the individual" really refers to anything in particular at all.
    The part of your OP that I'm contesting is
    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    The most straight-forward answer to this question is the discipline that is concerned with what is right and what is wrong. The question to follow is, what exactly is right, and what exactly is wrong?

    I propose that the ultimate goal of all human activity is acquisition of happiness. On a deeply unconscious level we are attracted to thoughts and actions that we feel will be beneficial to us.
    Your statement "the ultimate goal of all human activity is happiness" is indeed extremely general- it proposes to explain all of human behavior. I understand that you do not think happiness needs to be the same for different people, but this is still a universal claim. What I'm suggesting is that even for a single individual, there isn't any well defined notion of happiness, even if its definition would apply only to this one person. If you define happiness to be what is attained by a person's actions, then your definition is circular and your philosophy is meaningless. I assert that there isn't any well defined goal to human action- that this sense we have of there being some executive control over our actions is an illusion.

    To explain evolution, I think Understanding Evolution will do a much better job than anything I could write. Can you read over some of that and then tell me what you disagree with in my evolutionary argument? If I had to make a summary of what I'm saying, it would be that via natural selection, things that maximize survival are made to feel good, that emotion is a byproduct of survival of the fittest. While each organism will be driven by their own emotions, those emotions are designed so as to make the species survive, so survival is in some sense fundamental than happiness. The drive for happiness is a side effect of the drive for species survival.

    My claim about god being necessary for what I thought you were arguing is needed because evolutionary processes are impersonal- they take place outside of the consciousness of a being. The things that make a creature happy are designed by natural selection. Thus, for there to be any notion of happiness in the impersonal process of evolution, you would need emotion to exist outside of an individual, so an extra consciousness would be needed.
    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    You maintain that we are merely designed in a way that our strongest drive is towards evolution, yet refuse to explain how that is the case.
    Reasoning
    Premises:
    1. By natural selection, traits which make survival of a species more likely will survive more often than traits that don't.
    2. We have survived.
    Conclusion
    Thus, we have traits that have been useful to our survival. In particular, something will make a human happy if it is evolutionarily useful for a human to be made happy by it.
    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    In short, the thesis that the drive to reproduce is more influential than the drive for positivity of sentiment is just as absurd as claiming that a monkey likes strawberry because it knows strawberry conduces to the propagation of itself and not because the strawberry merely feels good. Quite intelligent such a monkey would be. Moreover, the proposition that the drive for reproduction is more influential in the psyche of an animal than the drive for a positive sentiment presupposes that an animal more easily accesses a complex idea (such as reproduction) than a simple idea (such as feeling good).
    The drive to survive and the drive to feel good are not at odds. We have evolved in a manner that makes things that feel good useful to our survival- this is a basic principle of evolution. The monkey is not consciously choosing things to make the monkey survive. If the monkey did not like the strawberry, the monkey wouldn't eat it. However, eating the strawberry helps the monkey survive. Thus, those monkeys that do not eat the strawberry will eventually die off, since the monkeys that do eat the strawberry are more likely to survive. Without any active choices by monkeys, natural selection has killed off the monkeys that don't like to eat. This process does not take place within the psyche of any specific monkey.

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    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    What I'm challenging is the idea that the "positive sentiment of the individual" really refers to anything in particular at all.
    The part of your OP that I'm contesting is .
    What it refers to as follows. A monkey likes strawberry, that is a positive sentiment of the monkey. A monkey also likes water, that is the positive sentiment of the monkey also. A massochist likes pain. Hence, what this refers to is the psychological state of the animal.

    I am not sure if I understand what you mean by 'anything in particular'.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    Your statement "the ultimate goal of all human activity is happiness" is indeed extremely general- it proposes to explain all of human behavior. .
    The statement that is clearly true is all that all animals and humans are capable of perceiving of what appears to them as the positive emotional state. In this regard such a general statement is appropriate, yet again, what makes one animal happy, is often very different from what makes another animal happy.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    What I'm suggesting is that even for a single individual, there isn't any well defined notion of happiness, even if its definition would apply only to this one person. .
    The well defined notion of happiness is as simple as a monkey receiving pleasure as a result of having consumed strawberry. If the monkey always has felt this way, the monkey would be considered happy. The notion of happiness has been established to mean exactly the same thing as the notion of positivity of sentiment which we have established is present in all animals.





    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    I assert that there isn't any well defined goal to human action- that this sense we have of there being some executive control over our actions is an illusion. .
    There certainly is not any clear-cut conscious goal to human action. As you mention the 'execution control', yet there is a very strong unconscious drive to feel content. This seems to be the significant misunderstanding we have incurred. I never maintained that humans have a conscious goal

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    If I had to make a summary of what I'm saying, it would be that via natural selection, things that maximize survival are made to feel good,.
    That is correct. The question that I am interested in, is exactly WHY things that maximize survival are made to feel good. Let me concoct some examples to illustrate my point on this matter.

    Suppose a monkey is attacked by another monkey. The attacking monkey attempts to suffocate the victim monkey. The monkey will obviously feel a very strong urge to avoid being suffocated, or a very strong urge to survive? Why is that? Because a monkey associates a very unpleasant feeling with being choked or with anything that it unconsciously associates with death.

    Or how about, a strange animal was to be created in a laboratory and released into the wilderness in Africa. Such an animal does not enjoy any of the food available in the area it inhabits. As you pointed out earlier, if an animal does not like any of the food available, it will not survive. Therefore, the animal will have no choice but to force itself to like some kind of food as without this it will not survive. Once more, I ask, what impels the animal to do this? What is clearly true is that the only reason the animal wishes to avoid extinction, or wishes to survive is because the contrary result is painful. Unconsciously, the animal must seek the outcome that is most pleasurable.

    Thus, my thesis is, the search for a positive sentiment is the reason why animals wish to survive. It preceeds the drive for survival for the reasons described above.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    that emotion is a byproduct of survival of the fittest. While each organism will be driven by their own emotions, those emotions are designed so as to make the species survive, so survival is in some sense fundamental than happiness. The drive for happiness is a side effect of the drive for species survival.,.
    What came first? The drive for survival? Or the drive for positive emotion? Moreover, if it was not for the drive for positive emotion and avoidance of negative emotion, is there any reason at all why the species would wish to survive?



    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    they take place outside of the consciousness of a being.-.,.
    I never said otherwise, as we have clarified in this post.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    The things that make a creature happy are designed by natural selection..-.,.
    As we have established, the creature is forced to like things that are necessary to survive, because failure to do so leads the creature to great pain, which it unconsciously strives to avoid.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    Thus, for there to be any notion of happiness in the impersonal process of evolution, you would need emotion to exist outside of an individual, so an extra consciousness would be needed...-.,.
    I have already stated. Happiness is merely a psychological state of an animal. What exactly is the impersonal process of evolution? Moreover, emotion by definition is a psychological state of an individual, how is it possible for such an entity to exist outside of an individual? Most importantly of all, how is any of this relevant to our discussion?


    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    Premises:
    1. By natural selection, traits which make survival of a species more likely will survive more often than traits that don't.
    2. We have survived.
    Conclusion
    Thus, we have traits that have been useful to our survival. In particular, something will make a human happy if it is evolutionarily useful for a human to be made happy by it....-.,.
    You have explained why the animals had a need to adjust to their environment.

    In essence the argument has this form.

    Premise: Animals adjust to their environment in order to survive.
    Conclusion:Animals have embraced some psychological qualities such as appreciation of certain foods or environmental conditions that they did not appreciate before.


    The argument needs to be expounded upon.

    Premise 1: The strongest unconscious drive of all animals is the pursuit of positive sentiment, which means pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain.
    Premise 2: Because the animals wished to avoid pain, which extinction is associated with, they were forced to do whatever is necessary to avoid pain and extinction and as a result adapted to their external environment in order to survive.

    Conclusion:Animals have embraced some psychological qualities such as appreciation of certain foods or environmental conditions that they did not appreciate before.

    Thus my point is, once again, the reason why animals wish to survive is because they unconsciously seek out a positive sentiment. For the sake of the argument, lets assume that your thesis is true; namely that the drive to survive is completely independent of the drive to feel good. On that note, how shall it be explained WHY animals have the ambition to survive in the first place?


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Additional notes on the matter.

    All animals have the ability to identify what pleasure is on a deeply unconscious level. Because this is the most fundamental drive of our unconscious mind, our pleasure is what we desire the most. That is what happiness is in particular the same psychological state of mind a monkey experiences after it ate strawberry.

    Therefore, the most sensible way to pursue ethics or the study of what we should do with our lives (this definition is used as interchangeable with the study of right and wrong or good and bad, as the 4 previous terms are concerned with directing one's actions), is to critically evaluate what produces such positive sentiments within us and pursue activities that maximize such sentiments. The discussion we had about evolution was very interesting but almost completely irrelevant.The claim that the idea of happiness is completely meaningless is palpably absurd. If that was the case than our feeling of thirst would have no bearing upon our endeavor to drink water. Or our liking of strawberry would have no bearing upon our endeavor to eat strawberry. Or the philosopher's genuine appreciation of contemplation of ideas would have no bearing upon his studies of philosophy. Happiness does refer to something in particular and that is the state of mind of the individual, another name for which is merely pleasure. This state of mind prompts us to act in a certain way. In other words, we always act in way that we unconsciously feel will conduce to our happiness, or in colloquial terms, will feel good. That is the case for all of our activities from eating strawberry because we like or re-adjusting our tastes in order to survive. (Again, we are motivated to do this by our pursuit of pleasure which also entails avoidance of pain.)

    It seems to be the case that you have thoroughly misunderstood Ayer. He quite correctly pointed out that our value judgments tell us more about the person who has made the value judgment than about the matter he commented on. If the person says chocolate is good it merely means that he likes chocolate and not that there is an objective quality of goodness about chocolate. Ayer however, never maintained that our value judgments have no epistemic value. The epistemic value that they do hold is with regard to our psychological state. Or in this case, the value judgment the aforementioned person made allows us to ask the question of why exactly he likes chocolate. The same epistemic methodology can be applied to all other assessments of value judgments.

    Hence, the conclusion is, because such assessments could be made any person can study his emotive dispositions and discover what truly conduces to his happiness the most, and as a result of this maximize it. Why should he pursue happiness? As a matter of truism, every person's ultimate wish is to be happy, because this wish is established on a deeply unconscious level.


    Axiom: Our most desirable activity is prolonged happiness.

    Thesis: All of our actions should be aimed to the end of ensuring that we acquire such a state of mind.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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  9. #29
    no clinkz 'til brooklyn Nocapszy's Avatar
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    All physicists knowledgeable enough to understand what life and cognition is composed of agree that ethics (even by your definition) is irrational.

    Reason is correct: You approach this all wrong.
    we fukin won boys

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    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nocapszy View Post
    All physicists knowledgeable enough to understand what life and cognition is composed of agree that ethics (even by your definition) is irrational.

    Reason is correct: You approach this all wrong.
    Homeboy, do me a favor, spare yourself some dignity. Stay out of this thread, it is way over your head.

    P.S

    Physics has nothing at all to do with this discussion.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

    “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”---Samuel Johnson

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