If evolution by natural selection were correct, then it seems to me that if
the overall environment remained relatively stable for an extended period of
time - then regardless of how it ended up, humans would be at about same
level of happiness.

A paradise or a hell, the species should evolve towards the same overall
happiness level.

We can only be "excessively" happy, or excessively unhappy, in a world that
we aren't well adapted to.

My reasoning is that happiness serves a purpose...it motivates us to do
things that enhance our reproductive success.

Unhappiness also serves a purpose...it motivates us to avoid things that
decrease our reproductive success.

Happiness is useless as a motivational tool if it's too hard *or* too easy
to achieve.

Unhappiness is useless as a motivational tool if it's too hard *or* too easy
to avoid.

There has to be some optimum "motivational" mix of happiness and
unhappiness...and I'd think it's always approximately the same mix.

Even in a hellish world, humans would be about as happy as they would be in
a paradise...once they (as a species) had adapted.

Which brings me to my next point. IF this evolutionary theory were true,
then scientific advancements only increase human happiness to the extent
that it puts us into situations that we're not well adapted to.

AND, given enough time (and mutation), we should adapt to all scientific
advancements...and a key part of this adaptation will be to reduce the
amount of happiness that they generate.

We can only be "happier" than cavemen when we are in a situation that we are
not well adapted to.

For instance, food. Most people really like sweets and salty greasy foods.
Much more than they like bland vegetables and whatnot.

The acquisition of junk food makes us happy *because* those things were hard
to acquire a few hundred years ago...and if you're living in resource-poor
circumstances, then calories and salt are just what the doctor ordered.

BUT...we're now out of equilibrium. Junk food is at least as easy to get as
vegetables, if not easier. So our evolved preferences push us to consume
more than is good for us.

Given time, and if we allowed heart disease and diabetes to do their work,
the human race would eventually lose their taste for such unhealthy fare, as
those with genetic tendencies in that direction died off. Anticipating a
greasy meal of pizza and consuming it would no longer make us as happy.
Because that happiness is too easily satisfied to provide the optimal level
of motivation.

In the future, I would think that our taste for junk food will decrease
while our taste for vegetables and fruit will increase.

Further, this "adjustment process" isn't just true of food. It should be
true of everything.

Even something that IS good for us will cause less happiness if its easily
available, because there's no real harm in not being highly motivated to get
it - since you'll get it even if you're relatively indifferent to it. Also,
even good things can become detrimental if over-indulged in.  So, over time
entropy will eat away at the structure that underlies the desire for that
thing.

Ya?

Rex

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