Philosophy – Would we need it if we were happy?

Would we spend so much time in hand wringing existential anxiety if we discovered the genetic code of the pain pleasure axis?

I rather doubt it. Or if we did, the questions which philosophy has traditionally sought to address would become much less important to us. I was enjoying a discussion on “materialism” on Steven Yate’s enjoyable website Lost Generation Philosopher and thought to make one or two comments on his latest musings on “Materialism” as set out below.

Maybe it’s just me but I worry about “philosophy” far less (if at all) when “happy”. I am deeply interested in the nature of human consciousness and can not help but think that an understanding of the “pain pleasure” axis on a scientific basis, coupled with the ability to shift our position on that axis, would solve many of our problems. War, aggression, poverty and oppression might look rather more manageable if we could overcome our genetic inheritance and steer our species along a more productive and happy path.

Long live the Abolitionist Project.

“All we are is dust in the wind.”

Or chemical scum as Stephen Hawkings put it. I wonder whether life need be so very complex as your posts suggest? I wonder if beneath your philosophical musing you may be able to wring great simplicity out of great complexity?

After all String Theorists would have us believe that all matter, all energy is at bottom a “mere” collection of one dimensional strings of energy.

I wonder whether humans might do better by seeking the way to manipulate the pain pleasure axis than spend an eternity wondering about questions which are, for the foreseeable future, unanswerable.

At heart, it seems probable to me that there is no “meaning” other than that we create in this arguably pantheistic universe.

You, me and everyone else has various basic needs. Perhaps society should work on satisfying those first and at the same time make universal happiness the goal since that, I believe, must be what drives us all in the end. Even if most of us do not realise it.

Frankly after a lifetime of search the sort of philosophy promoted by David Pearce is all that interests me. And research into qualia and the pain pleasure axis. If we get that right, my belief is we would find existential anxiety to be a mere symptom of deep rooted human fear and unhappiness.

Incidentally non of what I say is criticism. I like your post very much and agree with the vast majority of what you say. My own website is subtitled “Weltanschauung – a search for the Soul”. Even though like you I am a man of science and therefor use the term metaphorically.

My comments are therefor not flippant, nor meant to be. And I am serious about David Pearce and the abolitionist project.

I do not believe that we will find absolutes in the universe other than the physical laws that you describe. But we must not forget the many worlds theory which may yet prove to have found the winning formula in which case physical laws are not absolutes but will differ from universe to universe.

Science and philosophy are all that we have, practically speaking, to lead us forward. And indeed all that we should have now that the man of reason has disposed of god and his ilk.

So we may as well use science and reason to make ourselves happy. There may be no up and no down in the universe. No left and no right. Equally therefore no “right” and no “wrong”.

Therefore perhaps happiness is the only worthy pursuit. Yes we may argue that Pol Pot’s happiness or Stalin’s may be in torture, ethnic cleansing and murder but my suspicion would be that were these men truly “happy” and at peace with themselves they would not find the need to make a hell of the lives of their compatriots.


  1. like:

    (1) the chakras and the meditation and the plane of existence. And touch massage… have been around for thousands of years and that none of them have worked to bring us happiness or to settle the problems of society. (You said it better on another post of yours)

    (2) The plane pleasure axis, as you put it.

    I think the problem really is logistics. It really is that there are only so many drugs to give people and that those only last for a part of a lifetime and less you succeed in killing yourself with them (for example the opiate epidemic). Even if you have an extremely inexpensive drug that makes you gain the illusion of happiness, say for example LSD, again the pleasure part of it or the bliss part of it really only lasts a very small portion of a persons life time. That is, again, and less they succeed in killing themselves, which in the sense of psychedelic drugs means to go in sane. And I don’t know if you’ve ever witnessed anyone or come across anyone who is in sane from taking psychedelics and have come to some sort of strange place or whatever… it’s one thing to have a heroin addict who is superstrong out in your face and see their lives and see how sad it is, it is another thing to see someone who is done the same things with the psychedelic drug room; I would almost say that the psychedelic drug process is even sadder than the opiate addiction. Because these people are truly lost psychically and they can’t even form a concept of getting back because every time they form a concept of getting back to some sort of normal kind of happiness their brain hijacks them. Innoway it’s like opiate addiction or any other addiction but the thing with the regular kind of drug user is they still have some sort of sense that’s going on in their mind they just can’t stop using the drug.

    Anyways. Innoway I like your complaining kind of philosophical on philosophical rants. Lol.

    But this particular post of yours, I think hits upon the actual logistics of the situation: what my philosophy work tends to address in roundabout ways, it’s kind of attempting to draw a path which shows people what is “causing“ the problem: The plain and simple fact is that regardless of how many human beings there are in the world there’s already too many, and our modern world is filled with too many to many. There is just no possible way on one hand to get rid of all the problematic idiots by simply killing them, even if we could discern what makes an idiot really an idiot, But then on the other hand we simply do not have the physical material resources to develop some sort of cure-all to the pleasure of pain access to their bike get rid of all these various sorts of fantastic solutions to the overwhelming problem, which really stems from an idea that somehow I am going to be the one that solve the problem. Lol

    Thanks I think I’m going to follow your blog now.


  2. I much look forward to following your blog also. I can see, only too well, how the use of psychedelics can cause insanity. As you may have gathered I am micro-dosing for depression and have been doing so for three months. When I get the dose right, I achieve a sense of peace even on the blackest days. If I transgress over a very narrow dividing line I am filled by generalized and irrational fear for days.

    In general I believe there may be something to the idea of curing depression using psychedelics. While it has, as yet, proved no miracle cure, it often seems to do the trick when required and, more importantly, to be leading to some sort of beneficial re-arrangement of my consciousness

    But it has to be said I am a relatively sane, measured and reasonably intelligent individual. In the wrong hands I can see that the pleasure seeker who abuses these drugs could indeed be shipwrecked.


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