Brave New World - A society where everyone is happy is a bad thing?

  • #51
learningphysics said:
I understand the price. Many religions also state that the price of happiness is the sacrifice of those same things.

[of feelies] The experience is real whether or not there is some external reality where the events being seen and heard are actually happening.

Mond does not admit joylessness. He does admit sterility. You are equating sterility with joylessness. Bernard is unhappy in the BNW society. Most of the people in BNW are happy.

[of Alphas] Ok. They are a ruling elite. But there is a difference between the elite in BNW and in the real world. Firstly, quality of life. Usually elites are known to experience a better quality of life than the rest. The Alphas are no happier than anyone else. Also, usually the populace aspires to be in the elite. This is not the case in the BNW. Everyone is happy where they are.

My point with regards to the "ruling elite" was in response to what you said about the Alphas serving their own interests, and not what is good for the populace. This implies that the Alphas have something of importance that the others don't have? What do the Alphas have that nobody else does?
The Alphas have also lost "freedom, home, love, family".

I don't have any children. Personally I'd go through the electric torture, if it meant a lifetime of happiness. It is a short amount of pain for a lifetime of happiness. There is no comparison to the horrendous suffering that occurs in the real world.

But why are you so aversive towards the electric shock torture? It is a "low", and not nearly as bad as what happens in the real world. You are willing to accept the highs and lows in the "real world" but not in the BNW.

Right now in the real world, people are being tortured. This is a result of maintaining the status quo. This is "accepting the highs with the lows". Are you willing to take the place of someone that's being tortured? Somebody will go through it, if the world remains just as it is.

If you value freedom, then shouldn't the people be free to have their heroin if they so wish?

You just avoided the question. Are highs and lows good or bad? Should someone experiencing extremes in emotion do anything to stabilize them or not?
I amended my response to answer your question about the treatment of bi-polar disorder, I expect we were both composing our posts at the same time - it happens when conversation is as lively as this one (you are so much fun to debate with :smile: ). Of course they should have treatment, if they want it. I say if they want it, because some people affected by the condition prefer not to take their lithium, at least occasionally, they like the euphoric highs and are prepared to suffer the lows to experience them. Heroin users should and are (the law aside) free to take it if they wish, what I object to is conditioning people so that such drug use offers their only respite from negative emotions. What I object to more, is conditioning people to believe that negative emtions are necessarily something to be feared. In fact, I'm not completely comfortable with the term negtive; to grieve for a lost loved one is not necessarily negative.

It is indeed a sad and terrible fact that people are being tortured and that unique, thinking, feeling human beings die in pain and squalor. In some respects, this is due to the maintenance of the staus quo, but when did I say that I am in favour of maintaining the staus quo? I simply do not want to live in a BNW-like world. We may be at cross-purposes here, I am all for a society in which everyone is happy and I have no problem with using psychotropic drugs as a tool to establish it; I take mirtazapine, myself. What is significantly different is that I am free to experience misery, should I perversely choose to. This important to me, because I want to make up my own mind about what makes me happy, about what happiness is.

I don't agree with the electric shock torture of infants being less terrible than events in the real world. Pain is terrible. Fear is terrible. Torture is terrible. Always, in every instance, for whatever end it is practised.

What the Alphas have that, say, the Epsilons do not, is a certain amount of intellectual freedom, at the very least. The lower castes are purposely stunted and frightened away from reading, by loud noises in their nursery dorms. There is also the prospect of exile for those high-ranking members of society who, because of the higher degree of intellectual freedom afforded them, are unable to assimilate the norms of mass consumption of obstacle golf. The bloke who writes the feelies (what's his name?) is pissed off, because he is frustrated and feels himself capable of greater things, but has no possible outlet for them. He is, at least free enough in his mind, to entertain such thoughts; the Deltas are not, because their brains have been deliberately poisoned. If you were a Delta, you would be incapable of this discussion. To say that you would not miss what you never had (I am anticipating your response here) is a fallacy. I've never been able to do quadratic equations, but I wish I could.

I cannot believe that you are serious when you say that you would allow your children to be tortured with electric shocks, if that meant avoiding a certain amount of misery in later life. I know you don't have any now, but you might have, one day, and you must know some one with children, or remember being one. I would die to prevent my children experiencing that. I expect a lot of other people would, too.

Finally, a virtual experience is just that. it is real in one sense, but only in the sense that a picture of an apple is real. The picture is real, but I can't eat it.

Kate.
 
  • #52
Hi learningphysics,

I just came across a site with an essay about BNW:

BRAVE NEW WORLD ?
A Defence Of Paradise-Engineering

http://www.huxley.net/

I haven't read it yet (it's a very long essay) but I will. Perhaps we could discuss it?

Kate. :>
 
  • #53
learningphysics
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katelynndevere said:
Hi learningphysics,

I just came across a site with an essay about BNW:

BRAVE NEW WORLD ?
A Defence Of Paradise-Engineering

http://www.huxley.net/

I haven't read it yet (it's a very long essay) but I will. Perhaps we could discuss it?

Kate. :>
Hi Kate. I'll try to read that soon.

No, you're right. I wouldn't let my children go through that. I re-read the page in the book, and yes, it is probably the most horrible thing imaginable. I don't think whatever happiness is had later during their life compensates for the torture that they go through. I hope I didn't come across as a brute. I guess I was just overly agitated about the suffering in the real world.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the debate too. Hope I don't come off seeming antagonistic. :smile:
 
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  • #54
Hi learningphysics,

No, you didn't come across as a brute; I didn't believe you meant it, after all. You don't seem antagonistic, just passionate, which I believe is a good thing (you probably wouldn't be so passionate if you were a new-worlder, though, would you? he-he-he). I don't want to seem antagonistic either, which is most of the reason I edited my earlier post: your comparison wasnot 'beneath contempt', whether I agree with it or not, it is a valid opinion if that's the way it looks to from where you are.
Nice talking to you,
Kate.
 
  • #55
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If happiness is the only goal, what would be wrong with killing everyone in the world except one person, if that one person is irrepressibly happy?
 
  • #56
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The perfect person would be the only person.
 
  • #57
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If happiness is the only goal, what's wrong with that?
 
  • #58
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The only goal? I wasn't aware of this :P
 
  • #59
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Enos said:
The only goal? I wasn't aware of this :P
:uhh: That's the point!
 
  • #60
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good point.
 
  • #61
GeD
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BicycleTree said:
If happiness is the only goal, what's wrong with that?
Nothing...if you do not mind stagnation or degradation.

But the important thing here is to realise that the question is to what extent a certain goal or action is life-affirming or not (degradation or stagnation).
 
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  • #62
loseyourname
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BicycleTree said:
If happiness is the only goal, what would be wrong with killing everyone in the world except one person, if that one person is irrepressibly happy?
The goal of most utilitarian happiness-centered theories of ethics is to maximize the happiness of the entire human race. Some even go so far as to maximize the pleasurable sensations of all sentient beings. As such, it seems more valuable to have many happy people than one. The other problem is that only actions that maximize pleasure should be taken, according to this view. Killing everyone in the world does not do that, regardless of how the remaining individual feels separate from the killings (you do not seem to imply that he is happy because the rest of his species has been killed off).
 
  • #63
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If you painlessly kill everyone in the world but that one happiest guy, the _average_ happiness increases.

If you say that the only the "total" happiness matters then would you rather have a world with 6 billion marginally happy people or a world with 200 million very happy people, if the total happiness of the 200 million is somewhat less than the total happiness of the 6 billion, even though each individual of the 200 million is much happier? Personally I would rather, all other things being equal, have the 200 million people world. And what about unhappy people--if someone is unhappy that presumably would detract from the total happiness, so it would be reasonable then by the utilitarian ethic to murder the depressed if there were no consequences but their death, even if those depressed do not actually want to die.

Happiness is certainly one goal, but I believe a bigger goal than happiness is fulfilling the expression of each individual's potential. If an alien were to offer me bliss in exchange for most of my mind, I would not take it. Would you?
 
  • #64
loseyourname
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BicycleTree said:
If you painlessly kill everyone in the world but that one happiest guy, the _average_ happiness increases.

If you say that the only the "total" happiness matters then would you rather have a world with 6 billion marginally happy people or a world with 200 million very happy people, if the total happiness of the 200 million is somewhat less than the total happiness of the 6 billion, even though each individual of the 200 million is much happier?
I'm really not the guy to ask. I'm no expert on utilitarian theory, nor am I utilitarian myself. I do get the impression that you're mischaracterizing it to say that it would be a good thing to kill off all of the species except one, even if that one is happy. The two main points remain 1) That the act, in and of itself, produces no pleasure for any sentient being and so should not be done, and 2) The total pleasure in the world goes down. You've addressed 2, probably pretty effectively, but you haven't addressed 1. There actually is another point that can be brought up as well in that, although pleasurable experience is thought to be the only thing of intrinsic value, experience itself is generally regarded as a good thing unless it is painful. That is, unless the people you kill are unhappy and want to die, a utilitarian ethics would likely see the killing as a bad thing, even if it doesn't result in any direct pain.
 
  • #65
learningphysics
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BicycleTree said:
If you painlessly kill everyone in the world but that one happiest guy, the _average_ happiness increases.

If you say that the only the "total" happiness matters then would you rather have a world with 6 billion marginally happy people or a world with 200 million very happy people, if the total happiness of the 200 million is somewhat less than the total happiness of the 6 billion, even though each individual of the 200 million is much happier? Personally I would rather, all other things being equal, have the 200 million people world. And what about unhappy people--if someone is unhappy that presumably would detract from the total happiness, so it would be reasonable then by the utilitarian ethic to murder the depressed if there were no consequences but their death, even if those depressed do not actually want to die.

Happiness is certainly one goal, but I believe a bigger goal than happiness is fulfilling the expression of each individual's potential. If an alien were to offer me bliss in exchange for most of my mind, I would not take it. Would you?
Well, one of the objections to killing everyone is if you believe in reincarnation, or even consider the possibility of reincarnation (or just life after death). Those killed may be reborn, and continue suffering (Buddhism)

I grant the problems involved with utilitarianism when life and death are involved. But when those issues are not involved, then what goals are there other than happiness?

You mentioned "potential". Potential to do what?
 
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  • #66
GeD
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POWER. ;)

There are those who seek contentment, and those who seek power (although both still seek general satisfaction).



As for the ideas behind utilitarianism, there is that repugnant conclusion that we seem to have a duty under util to make more and more people, simply because even if they are all poverty stricken and extremely unhappy, the combined happiness total is greater than before. Of course, util can reply and state that the best way to facilitate happiness is not to make util followed so completely.
 
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  • #67
learningphysics
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GeD said:
POWER. ;)

There are those who seek contentment, and those who seek power (although both still seek general satisfaction).



As for the ideas behind utilitarianism, there is that repugnant conclusion that we seem to have a duty under util to make more and more people, simply because even if they are all poverty stricken and extremely unhappy, the combined happiness total is greater than before. Of course, util can reply and state that the best way to facilitate happiness is not to make util followed so completely.
No. There is the disvalue of pain and suffering that needs to be taken into account. Creating more and more people can create positive happiness and negative suffering. Utilitarianism has the dual goal of increasing positive happiness and reducing negative suffering. Hence it doesn't make sense to make more and more people from a utilitarian standpoint unless they are all guaranteed a certain quality of life.

My personal philosophy is not that of utilitarianism but that of "negative utilitarianism", which emphasizes the lack of symmetry between pain and pleasure: The abolishing of pain and suffering is much more imperative than any increase in pleasure or happiness.
 
  • #68
GeD
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The abolishing of pain and suffering is much more imperative than any increase in pleasure or happiness.
Ah, this good ol' world is so ripe with fear of suffering.

BTW, your defined goal there is not part of the usual utilitarianism either. To them, happiness can be more important than some suffering, because most are strong enough to resist ailments/pain and "take their licks" - so to speak.
 
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