RE: ethics, joyous growth, etc.

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Tue Feb 03 2004 - 05:53:02 MST

> > has proposed "abundance of positive qualia"
> Let's not forget the "elimination of negative qualia" which is to me even
> more important.

OK, let's talk about "relative abundance of positive qualia" then

> >It seems that accepting "positive qualia" only as an abstract principle
> >leads to very obvious problems (its ideal universe is a single, mindless,
> >endless orgasm?)
> Such a universe looks free of challenge, free of gain, and from
> the point of
> view of evolved mammals it is not satisfactory. However I don't think any
> one of us can appreciate the meaning of an endless cosmic-scale orgasm. I
> think most would give up the small and temporary satisfactions
> they get with
> growth, discovery and progress, in order to remain in such a state of
> orgasmic, albeit thoughtless joy.

Well, I guess that you have a different meta-principle, that's all... I
articulated two

-- Joyous Growth
-- Human Stability

and you're insisting on another

-- Pure Joy

In my approach the arbitrariness is pushed up from ethical systems to
guiding principles. If you choose a different guiding principle than me, I
have no way to argue against you...

> It is reasonable to
> think that the
> most intense qualia need a complex brain to exist. For example, a
> shrimp can
> hardly appreciate music at all. A child can rejoyce with simple tunes, but
> perhaps not cry listening to classical music. You need a modern
> day citizen,
> who is also smart and educated, a scientist, to appreciate complex dynamic
> systems such as cells and AI. Whether a shrimp's orgasm feels
> better than a
> human orgasm, is completely beyond me :)

This is an interesting line of thinking, but it's very hard to pursue due to
the ill-understood nature of "qualia." We don't really have a good
understanding of "qualia intensity".

Your examples seem to be of "qualia complexity" as much as of intensity --
for instance, are you sure crying listening to classical music is *more
intense* than laughing listening to children's music?

> Maximization of positive qualia also includes finding out new positive
> qualia, for variety is just as important as quantity and intensity.

Well, now you're moving back in the direction of "Joyous Growth" ... again,
it's not clear to me that "diverse qualia" are necessarily more INTENSE or
more POSITIVE than "homogeneous qualia."

> What I can't compromise about are negative qualia...

Well, you've said you value diversity of qualia. What if the only way to
achieve diversity of qualia is to admit some negative qualia into the mix?

Also, what if the MAXIMUM INTENSITY of positive qualia is achievable only in
a universe where the AVERAGE VALENCE of qualia is near zero? I.e., what if
universes in which lots of positive AND negative qualia exist, are the ones
in which the most intensely wonderful positive qualia exist?

And, what if the AVERAGE INTENSITY of positive qualia is higher in universes
where SOME (perhaps not that many) negative qualia also exist?

There are a lot of things about qualia we don't understand... particularly
when talking about the universe-wide system of interlocking qualia...

-- Ben G

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:45 MDT