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.