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 -- You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group. To post to this group, send email to email@example.com. To unsubscribe from this group, send email to everything-list+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com. For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list?hl=en.