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Is it true that pleasure help aid the survival of species?

  1. Oct 21, 2006 #1
    I asked this guy from another message board if sexual reproduction usually equals pleasure? and he replied with this:

    "It's not only sex; eating, drinking, exercise, our bodies are programmed to release endorphins and create pleasure to reinforce actions which aid its survival and propogation. I cannot see how any being, sentient or otherwise, that is capable of not performing those actions could not be so programmed."

    I agree with him on the first part but I think there are alot of non sentient animals out there that breed without feeling any kind of pleasure, or am I wrong? So he I think he is saying that pleasure arises as a motivational factor, I guess...it did for us.
     
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  3. Oct 21, 2006 #2
    We cant really know if other organisms reproduce because it pleasures them. For horses and other animals with penisses and vagina's its easy for us to imagine them as enjoying the act, but what about single celled organisms that divide themselves?
     
  4. Oct 21, 2006 #3
    Horses enjoy sex?...you make a good point about single celled organisms though. I know we dont really have any sample, but how about intelligent species, do you think it maybe comes with the territory?
     
  5. Oct 21, 2006 #4

    LURCH

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    I believe so. I think this is why your friend specified that, "any being, sentient or otherwise, that is capable of not performing those actions..." should be "so programmed". I find it likely that any creature with the power of cognition and the ability to make conscious choices, rather than acting on pure instinct with no choice, would have to have some built-in mechanism to reinforce choices that lead to greater reproductive success.

    (Can't believe I just said that... as if I'm one to talk!!)
     
  6. Oct 21, 2006 #5

    arildno

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    There is no necessary link between adaptive advantage and signals of pleasure.

    Note that signals of pleasure&pain are conducted by the neural system, and that the immediate significance of them is: "Benefit to my body"/"Harmful to my body".

    This, NOT the calculation of some adaptive advantage is the immediate cause or motivational factor behind the organism's preemptive or subsequent acts.

    Evolutionary advantage is given to those organisms for whom stratagems of reproduction is a pleasurable act (something they are attracted to), rather than a painful act.

    That is, the mechanism of natural selection is such that it utilizes the organisms' pleasure/pain capacities so that a sufficient number of them reproduces.

    It by no means follows from this that pain/pleasure are secret evolutionary signals to the organism; the individual organism is blatantly egocentric, and couldn't care less about later generations as such.
     
  7. Oct 21, 2006 #6
    But then again, if organisms stopped reproducing, then natural selection would cease to exist. So if the impulse to reproduce is caused by the pleasurable experience this creates, then the principle of natural selection is actually the result of those experiences, and would not exist without it.

    Evolution doesnt care about anything either. Organisms that act on the basis of experience do 'care' about their experiences, and whatever direction their joy and pleasure may lead them to, the course of evolution might be a consequence of it.

    If humans suddenly only got sexually excited by japanese people, then japanese genes would spread across the globe much faster than they do now. The course of evolution is then influenced by what we find pleasurable, even though we do not have an 'evolutionary purpose' with this.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2006
  8. Oct 22, 2006 #7

    arildno

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    The point is that organisms should be regarded as pain/pleasure calculators, not adaptive advantage calculators.

    In particular, it means that (higher) organisms may, on occasion, perform actions that goes against maximal adaptive advantage if the alternative course yields higher pleasure.
     
  9. Oct 22, 2006 #8
    Would that be the case with us?

    I have been Googling this topic like crazy, I still dont know much about it, but I think the poster that I originally asked from another forum is somewhat right.
     
  10. Oct 23, 2006 #9

    Another God

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    I think he is absolutely right. Emotions, feelings, sensations..they are all the same thing: They are the bodies way of reporting to the brain so that the brain may make an informed decision based on its situation. Evolution crafted the brain and the messaging systems.

    The organisms which released chemicals that imply 'bad', or that tell the brain that it should stop doing whatever it is doing whenever it engaged in sex...well, those organisms stop having sex and go extinct. The organisms which received no signal during sex probably never seeked out sex, and so went extinct. The organisms which signalled "good" or "do this more" or whatever it is that the chemical signals to the brain, those organisms exploded inpopulation compared to the other ones.

    This simple analysis can be applied to all of our instincts, emotional reactions, pleasures, pains and fears. Fear of snakes and spiders. Eating sweets. Fear of heights. Running when scared. Love. etc

    All of those 'experiences' are the subjective manifestations of a brain-chemical interaction.
     
  11. Oct 23, 2006 #10

    arildno

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    No, it can't.

    As examples, take ascetics and young, unmarried men sacrificing themselves in war before gene propagation.
     
  12. Oct 23, 2006 #11

    Another God

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    I don't think selfless actions contradict the use of 'feelings' as the tools crafted by evolution to motivate continuation of the species.
     
  13. Oct 23, 2006 #12

    arildno

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    It is nothing selfless about a monk's sexual abstinence, quite the opposite.
    He expects unbounded joy in heaven, i.e, his action is in concordance with a pain/pleasure calculation.
     
  14. Oct 23, 2006 #13
    This is off topic but that is true, the joy/bliss monks get in meditative states is different from the physical pleasure you get from sex.

    arildno, are you arguing that pleasure is not necessary or at least common to actions that reinforce our survival.
     
  15. Oct 23, 2006 #14

    Mk

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    Rational choice theory doesn't always work. :smile:
     
  16. Nov 4, 2006 #15
    Agreed. And if the monks themselves don't have children, then both ascetics and the young, unmarried men are both as 'evolutionarily' unfit as each other.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2006
  17. Nov 5, 2006 #16

    arildno

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    You seem to have lost the main point here, namely that the dynamics effecting this type of behaviour is:
    a) An actual, effective one, and continues to work generation after generation.
    b) Contrary to the dynamics of evolution

    Thus, it follows that not all human behaviour is explainable by direct reference to evolutionary forces; neither is it validated that principles of evolution is a dominant force in determining behaviour.
    Thereby, it follows that sociobiological explanations are of limited quality at best, and possibly spurious for the most part.



    The principle of pain/pleasure, however, in explaining behaviour, is not marred in a similar manner.
    Thus, it is the better principle to try to understand human behaviour from.

    As for that particular principle's relation to the principle of evolution, that is quite simple:
    1. On average, survival of the individual is benefactory to it in an evolutionary sense.
    Thus, that an individual were to be equipped with a sensory mechanism that could alert it to when IT is "in danger" would be of evolutionary benefit to it.
    A crucial point:
    Note that it is physically more feasible to equip an organism with an alert system concerning ITSELF (based on the actual environment inputs it gains), than to equip an organism with a natural selection calculator that has as its main aim to optimize its number of descendants.
    This, after all, couldn't work solely with the input given directly from the environment the individual finds itself in, but would require a complicated internal algorithm to perform such a calculation.

    Thus, egotism is the simplest mechanism natural selection can choose for the individual, and as long as activities crucial for the survival of the species remains PLEASURABLE to the individual, then the action of the population will, on the average, be advantageous in an evolutionary sense, even if it won't necvessarily be maximally advantageous (i.e, those courses of action that might be detrimental to the individual, but of high advantage evolutionary speaking will, for the most part, not be chosen).
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2006
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