Happiness [was:Re: Socialism, Intelligence, and Posthumanity]

Max More (max@maxmore.com)
Sun, 10 Jan 1999 10:12:09 -0800

At 10:44 PM 1/9/99 -0600, Eliezer wrote:
>A point that far too few appreciate. Happiness is a state that
>theoretically occurs when all problems are solved; happiness is not
>necessarily the best way to solve problems. From my personal experience
>I can only say that there is intelligence in sorrow, frustration, and
>despair; but presumably other "negative" emotions have their uses as well.

"Happiness" is one of those fuzzy terms than covers a range of phenomena. So I'm not exactly going to disagree with you, because I might agree depending on just what you mean. It strikes me as either wrong or misleading to say "Happiness is a state that theoretically occurs when all problems are solved". For many, happiness tails off when all problems are solved. For many of us, certainly me, happiness of one important kind, results is embodied in that "flow" state when you are absorbed in tackling difficult (but not too difficult) problems.

Perhaps you will disagree with the above, though I doubt it. If so, perhaps we can use a more precise vocabulary. "Happiness" can refer to pleasure, joy, ecstacy, satisfaction, enjoyable engagement. "Pleasure" itself can refer to quite a range of things, from passive enjoyment (watching a good movie, absorbing solar radiation), to active physical and intellectual pleasures.

Personally, my experience seems to be the opposite of yours, Eliezer. I am most productive and intelligent when happy--that is when actively engaged in creation, production, and enjoyment. I do think an important issue for transhumans is what kinds of moods we should want to engineer. Maybe one of the sessions at EXTRO 4 will focus on this.



Max More, Ph.D.
<max@maxmore.com> or <more@extropy.org>

Philosophical issues of technology
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