On Sat, Jun 18, 2011 at 6:08 PM, benjayk
<benjamin.jaku...@googlemail.com> wrote:
>
> Rex Allen wrote:
>>
>> 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.
>
> I don't think it is generally true, though I think it is approximatly true
> if we assume humans are restricted to biological intelligence (which
> probably won't be the case in the future).

Though, if our technological prowess were to plateau at a level
advanced enough that we could maintain a stable environment for
ourselves, but short of any type of "Singularity"...then what?

Barring a Chinese-style birth control regime, eventually the more
fertile sub-groups would seem likely proliferate and eventually
population levels would rise until we were back in the same situation
that most of our ancestors lived in...with just enough resources to
sustain the existing population.

There's a finite amount of energy and resources available on Earth, or
even in the solar system, if we make it that far.

Once our technological prowess has plateaued and we've bumped up
against those energy and resource limits...then what?

My guess is it doesn't really matter. The rate of change will slow
from it's current breakneck speed (except for the occasional
supervolcano/giant asteroid) and the species will adapt to whatever
the situation is and people (or whatever) will be about as happy as
they ever were.



> Rex Allen wrote:
>>
>> 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.
>
> But whether it serves that purpose is dependent on the circumstances, not
> only on the relative amount of happiness and unhappiness.
>
> It's not clear that there couldn't be circumstances where it is not useful
> for beings to feel much more or much less happiness (though I hope the
> latter isn't the case).
>
> If there are less treats in the environment, I guess that we would tend to
> be happier, because negative feelings are needed for avoiding (mostly rather
> acute) treats. We don't need to be unhappy to get along with each other, for
> example.

You don't think that happiness and unhappiness play a significant role
in the competition for social status and mates among humans?

I would tend to think that our social relations (or lack thereof) are
probably the largest contributor to most people's happiness *and*
unhappiness.

"Hell is other people."

"Homo homini lupus."  Man is wolf to man.


> So in a world where there are less treats (let's say more stable climate)
> there would be less pressure for negative feelings and more room for
> usefulness of happiness (let's say due to increased social interaction), so
> we would be happier on average.

I think increased social interaction is just as likely to result in
unhappiness as happiness.  Especially in "Malthusian" situations where
we eventually bump up against available resources.

Not everyone can be a winner.

We can't *all* get the prettiest girl or handsomest guy.

This is bound to cause unhappiness...which then (sometimes) motivates
increased effort or a different approach on the next round.



> I find it probable that there are many biological and pre-industrial beings
> in the multiverse that are significantly more happy than us because of this
> (it's very unlikely that it would be close to paradise, though, I guess).

In an infinite multiverse...I tend to think that every possible
variation would occur a (countably) infinite number of times.

And so there would be the same number of happy and unhappy people...a
countable infinity of each.



> Rex Allen wrote:
>>
>> There has to be some optimum "motivational" mix of happiness and
>> unhappiness...and I'd think it's always approximately the same mix.
>
> I think this is a too simplified conception of what happiness and
> unhappiness are for. Whether we are motivated does not  only depend on
> whether there is an appropiate mix of happiness and unhappiness (though this
> I agree this is factor), but whether in the situations where it is useful to
> be unhappy we are unhappy and when it is useful to be happy, we are happy.
> If there are less reasons that would make unhappiness a useful thing, there
> will be less unhappiness (see my example above).

I'll agree that there is likely a certain degree of dependence on
contingent circumstance.  In an infinite universe improbable things
will happen infinitely often...



> Rex Allen wrote:
>>
>> 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.
>
> I think if we take scientific advanvement into account what you say becomes
> quite wrong.

Only if scientific advancement does away with evolution by natural
selection.  Maybe by using mutation-free cloning instead of good
old-fashioned sex.  Or eliminating death by natural causes.

So my opening sentence began:

"If evolution by natural selection were correct..."

If we were to do something that resulted in us no longer being subject
to evolution by natural selection, or if evolution by natural
selection were false to begin with, then I guess the whole thing is
moot.


> First, we can't adapt very much biologically to scientific advancement
> because science changes us faster than biology can react to. The more
> scientific advanced we are, the more this becomes true.

You think that science will continue it's current rate of progress?
For how long?  And then what will happen after it plateaus?  See my
scenario above.


> Rex Allen wrote:
>>
>> So, over time entropy will eat away at the structure that
>> underlies the desire for that thing.
>
> I see entropy more as the byproduct of increasing order as something that
> eats away structure.
>
> After all order emerged as entropy increased. It's not like there was a
> perfect oder at the beginning and now all is falling apart.

Here's my reasoning:

1.  If there is some biological structure required to maintain a
particular behavior...

2.  ...then mutation will inevitably eventually result in
function-disrupting changes to this structure.

3.  If these changes don't reduce reproductive success...

4.  ...then these changes will be transmitted to future generations.

5.  Over time, more and more of these mutations will occur within this
structure...

6.  ...and since disrupted functioning has no negative impact on
reproductive success...

7.  ...all of these mutations will be transmitted to future generations.

8.  Eventually the entire population will inherit function-disrupting
mutations...

9.  ...at which time that particular desire will have disappeared from
the species.


Order increases because this universe is structured in such a way that
"disordered" mutants get out-competed by their unmutated brethren -
while order-increasing mutants out-compete their unmutated brethren.

Competition keeps the ratcheting up the order as a one-way process
(barring the occasional catastrophe, to stir the pot).

But in the normal course of business Mother Nature produces a whole
slew of disordered mutants for ever "improved" mutant.  The disordered
ones generally just get eaten quickly.  If they didn't, they would
hang around and "disorder" the place and the world would be a strange
place indeed...Futurama sewer strange.


Rex

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