Friday 11 March 2011

Imagine a world...


Without suffering and with nothing but pleasure; when each person was (somehow) independent and able to extinguish immediately all incipient bad feelings and replace them with happy feelings.

A world where we personally would be distracted from pain and gratified to the limit of our comprehension 24/7 - either in reality or in virtual reality - it does not matter since we would not know the difference.

A world where we would be so gratified that we would cease to worry about, cease even to know, what other human beings might be doing - or even whether there were any other human beings, really.

We would each be truly independent and autonomous - freed from care.


Whether we lived forever in this state of euphoria, or whether we lived a few moments and died and were utterly extinguished, would not make any difference at all - since there would be no dread of extinction - it would not interfere with our state of gratification.

Indeed, it would not matter whether we were born or came into existence, really.

We could be asleep all the time, or we might never have lived in the first place.

Because if we were not born we would not know what we had missed.


There would be no motivation to change, there would be no motivation.

As long as there is something - even if just boredom - then there is motivation to escape it. So there would be no boredom. There would be no discontent.

We would not want anything - any glimmer of discontent would be eased and displaced.

No yearning. All yearning soothed-away, tranquillized.

We would not want to escape, there would be nothing we could imagine that we could escape to: in fact, we could not even formulate the idea of escape.


Does this prospect strike you as paradise on earth, or are you made uneasy - perhaps even repelled?

Is this heaven or hell?

(Some would say that this is literally hell - if you want it, you will get it.)


The only reason for being uneasy or repelled by this vision (as surely you, like me, must be?) is if you believe in the soul - and believe in transcendent reality - a reality which is the true human destiny.

If you are uneasy or appalled by this imagination then you are rejecting humanism (atheism, agnosticism) you are rejecting the ideals of secular politics (whether left or right) - you have a yearning for transcendence - for something not of this world.

Is this yearning a delusion, or is it significant?



chris said...

The problem with this particular thought-exercise is that anticipation (of something good) must be excluded yet anticipation is a great joy.

Bruce Charlton said...

Interesting point about anticipation.

Let's assume that pleasurable anticipation is an aspect of pleasure which is guaranteed - is it really qualitatively different from other kinds of pleasure? Is it really more intense than presently experienced pleasure?

Indeed, anticipated pleasure is the main kind of pleasure that most people have, most of the time - very much a modern thing (looking forward to getting the exam, college, getting the job - or the girl, owning whatever, Friday night, holidays etc).

The Crow said...

Delusion disguised as Wonderful.
The Pied Piper, leading the Way Left.
Too much sugar can kill.
Nothing valuable exists without its cutting-edge. What can cure, can harm. What can harm, can cure.

What's happening to you, Bruce?
Have you discovered that Quantum Physics also applies to the macro universe?
This is getting intensely interesting!