Re: Hedonism
Wed, 9 Oct 1996 08:59:30 -0400

In a message dated 96-10-08 11:23:38 EDT, Ira Brodsky writes:

> Is there a third view? Does anyone here think there is a "purpose" to life
> that does not require the existence of a creator/god/punisher?

Yes, I'd guess most, if not all extropians and fellow-travellers do. A
project I've had to shelve for the time being due to the press of making a
living is working out my own thoughts on this subject in sufficient detail to
be subject to decent analysis and criticism.

I interpret questions about the "meaning of life" to ultimately be questions
about morality, i.e. what is good or worthwhile. A "quick and dirty"
statement of the core of my thoughts on this subject is that morality, ethics
and teleology can be derived from epistimology. (Blech! -- what a sentence!)
A less cryptic statement of this idea is that a rigorous rational morality
can be derived from the very nature of an entity that is capable of
"knowing", without the need for reference to any source of value outside the
knower and community of knowers. The irreducible axiom of this concept of
morality is that knowing and "knowers" are fundamental goods. To the extent
that any rationale for this axiom is possible or necessary, it is that we are
essentially and uniquely knowers.

As for the original subject of this post, hedonism, it seems to me that
pleasure of all sorts is inextricably intertwined with knowledge -- it is one
of many possible qualities of knowledge. Being perhaps less analytical and
more common-sensical, shouldn't we simply say that, all other things being
equal, pleasure makes us happy and happiness is a good thing? This begs the
question of the ethical context of any particular pleasure, but that is a
subject for another day ...

Greg Burch <> <> or
"When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber."
--Winston Churchill