Re: Hedonism

Ira Brodsky (
Sat, 5 Oct 1996 18:17:57 -0600

Michael Butler wrote:

>You can't conquer death (and everything else) if you are a slave to
>physical needs/desires. As I recall, someone on this list (maybe it was
>Max More?) said they would not want to be uploaded to exist solely as
>intellect. Why not? Do you think if you achieved such an existence you
>would miss having physical needs/desires? I doubt it.
>I say:
>There are a lot of rhetorical hooks packed into this.
>I dispute the equivalency of "hedonism" and "[being] a slave to
>physical needs/desires".

Yes, I'm sure most hedonists would not consider themselves slaves. But it
is too easy to convince yourself you seek pleasure voluntarily.

>I suspect I would not willingly permit myself to be uploaded to exist
>solely as intellect.

An expected response. But imagine you are dying of cancer and are offered
the opportunity to continue to exist solely as intellect. Would you take

>I might permit myself to be copied into a fast intellect-only form
>(as a sort of "guardian angel") if it seemed as if a lot of people I
>don't know and hence might be wise not to trust were getting themsleves
>uploaded as pure intellects. But that would be so I could keep an eye on
>them and fight them on their own turf if need be. (1/2 grin)

A hedonist *and* an angel? I'm impressed! <g>

>It's anybody's guess how I could keep my guardian angel interested
>in guarding me--I'd probably have to install something irrational like
>"loyalty" or "fondness" into it, and that might slow it down against
>some faster-on-the-draw "pure intellect". If so, bummer.

I'm not convinced that loyalty and fondness are irrational. But upon
further thought, I would concede that hedonism isn't necessarily limited to
the pursuit of physical pleasure. But in (common) practice, it is.

>You are free to doubt whatever you like; but GIGO. The notion that
>"physical needs/desires" is all there is to hedonism is fundamentally
>flawed when applied to this particular human. YMMV.

OK, I'll modify my statement. First, as an objectivist I would certainly
not renounce physical reality. Perhaps I should say I would prefer to
exist as a combination intellect/physical unit free of mundane physical
needs and desires.

Perhaps transhumanists should program themselves to experience an intense
orgasm (or something analogous) every time they acquire important
knowledge, gain new insights, or create (or even procreate?) something of

But I see no reason to preserve animal pleasures, anymore than I would
preserve animal mortality.

Ira Brodsky
Datacomm Research Company
Wilmette, Illinois