RE: Rationalizing suffering

From: mike99 (
Date: Tue Apr 01 2003 - 15:31:44 MST

If I may respond here while Eliezer is waiting, I'd like to say something
about suffering.

Suffering comes in many degrees. Low level suffering, such as anxiety and
frustration, can indeed be motivators. And these psychological forms of
suffering may, as you said John, be around in some form forever. But they
can be mitigated. And they are not necessary preconditions for motivating
oneself or others. There are other means.

Extreme degrees of suffering, such as one's experience of intractable pain,
or witnessing such pain being experienced by a loved one, or seeing that
loved one die, are forms of suffering that can, should, and must be

I disagree with the claim made by some people (not you John) that suffering
of any kind builds character. No, clearly that is not true in many, or even
most, cases. If it were, then torture would be utterly ineffective. Yet we
know that under torture most people will break. Not only will they go
against their own principles under torture, but they will hate themselves
for it. Such a combination of physical pain and psychological anguish is
evil, no matter now you look at it.

Michael LaTorra

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf Of John Robb
> Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 3:15 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: Rationalizing suffering
> Elizer,
> Do you really believe suffering should be alleviated? I think it is an
> incredible motivator (I personally have always found that I work
> harder when
> my back is against the wall). It is the ultimate object lesson.
> I do think that regardless of the advances provided by the Singularity,
> suffering will mutate and find us. If not physical then psychological.
> Sincerely,
> John Robb
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 4:35 PM
> Subject: Rationalizing suffering
> > "The human relationship with suffering is *very* similar to the
> > relationship between hostages and hostage-takers in Stockholm Syndrome."
> > -- Michael Raimondi
> >
> > --
> > Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
> > Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence
> >

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