I think that theory of final goals should not be about happiness and sufferings.

My final goals are about infinite evolution etc, and suffering is just a signal that I choose a wrong path or have to call 911. If we fight with the signal, we forget to change the reality and start to live in illusion.

Moreover, I think that value of to be alive is more important than value of happiness.

Hey, turchin, do you mind explaining how you came about your final goals i.e. infinite evolution?

I'm looking for a way to test which final goal is more right. My current best guess for my final goal is, "avoiding pain and promoting play" and I've heard someone say, alternatively "beauty in the universe and eyes to see it." It would be neat if these different goals are reconcilable in some way.

1akvadrako3y+1

We need a better theory of happiness and suffering

by toonalfrink 1 min read4th Jul 201739 comments

2


We rationalists know a lot about winning, but we don't know what our terminal goals really are. Such things are handwaved away, as we just mumble something like "QALYs" and make a few guesses about what a five year old would like.

I'd like to dispel the myth that a 5 year old knows what they like. Have you ever seen a kid with a sack of candy? I don't think they really wanted to get nauseous.

"But hold up", you say. "Maybe that's true for special cases involving competing subagents, but most cases are actually pretty straightforward, like blindness and death and captivity."

Well, you may have a point with death, but what if blind people and inmates are actually as happy as the next guy? What's the point of curing blindness, then?

A special case where we need to check our assumptions is animal welfare. What if the substrate of suffering is something in higher-order cognition, something that all but mammals lack?

One could hold that it is impossible to make inferences about another being's qualia, but we can come quite far with introspection plus assuming that similar brains yield similar qualia. We can even correlate happiness with brain scans.

The former is why I've moved to a Buddhist monastery. If (whatever really causes) happiness is your goal, it seems to me that the claim that one can permanently attain a state of bliss is worth investigating.

So, to sum up, if we want to fix suffering, let's find out it's proximal cause first. Spoiler: it's not pain.

(To be continued)