An interesting video related to the discussion: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html
Interesting point: Lottery winners and those who become paraplegic have the same level of happiness after a year. Jason On Sat, Jun 18, 2011 at 10:57 PM, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote: > 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 > > -- > 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. > > -- You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group. To post to this group, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.