RE: Sadness on voluntary death (was: Singularity Memetics)

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Thu Jan 31 2002 - 19:33:05 MST

> > Well, the part where you said that any choice involving growing old,
> > pain, and death is objectively wrong coupled with the part where you
> > said that when you see pain, you want to heal it.
> I didn't say it was objectively wrong; I said it was wrong under virtually
> everyone's moral premises, even though some people may refuse the
> intelligence necessary to extrapolate their moral premises consistently.
> It does not follow that forcible upgrading of intelligence is a moral act
> under those same premises.

I think your statement that "accepting death is wrong under virtually
everyone's moral
premises" is not correct.

I feel that you do not very thoroughly understand the "moral premises" of
the vast number
of human beings.

In my view, differences in ethical and moral theory are not primarily due to
logical inconsistency on the
part of those with the "wrong" ethics or morals.

There is some illogicality involved of course.
Christianity is a particularly illogical religion in many ways.
Buddhism for example is highly logically self-consistent, and provides a set
moral premises under which accepting death is absolutely correct. Islam is
also highly logically
consistent, although I personally like it far less than Buddhism.

There is a nice 2-volume set called "Buddhist Logic" by Th. Stcherbatsky
(??) which reviews
the internal logic of the Buddhist perspective, based mainly on the work of
the medieval
Buddhist logicians Dharmakirti and Dignaga.

The Buddhist view (to which I repeat, I do not fully subscribe) does not
rely on any
scientifically unlikely ideas such as heaven or reincarnation, either.
Among other things, it
portrays this world AND the world of the upload as illusions, and argues
that to deny death is to
cling to a world of illusions and an ultimately illusory individual
You may accuse this view of logical inconsistency or lack of
intelligence -- but Buddhist logicians could debate you expertly and
logically on any point of your choice
until you were both either dead or uploaded.... Hell, the ancient Indians
*invented* logic!!

Also, I note that death does not necessarily involve pain. Death involves
more pain now than
it did in most previous cultures, which did not have such advanced
life-extension technology. Embracing death does not imply embracing pain.
Buddhism is all about escaping the pain of the samsaric world via mental and
spiritual purification, part of which is the acceptance of death as Ok given
the fundamental illusoriness of reality.

I am not trying to convert anyone to Buddhism, a religion in which I do not
believe. But I do believe Buddhism to be a logically consistent
perspective, as much so as any science for sure. It simply begins from
different fundamental assumptions than my own point of view.

Whether superintelligent beings will have belief systems comparable to
Buddhism, i really have no idea. Perhaps beings explicitly implemented on a
foundation of simulations and bits will have a highly evolved sense of their
own illusoriness, in a semi-Buddhist sort of way. Time will tell...

-- Ben G

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