RE: Rationalizing suffering

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Wed Apr 02 2003 - 01:35:04 MST

Eliezer writes

> John Robb wrote:
> > Eliezer,
> >
> > 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.
> Michael LaTorra already said almost everything I wanted to say, and it
> remains only to point out that while you might choose to regard certain
> forms of suffering as building character, you cannot make that choice for
> others.

Yes, because Michael wrote

> 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.

May we hope not!

> But they can be mitigated. And they are not necessary preconditions
> for motivating oneself or others. There are other means.

Exactly. All our intuitions have been built up by evolution,
and from my point of view, it seems that we all too easily
fail to reach for the grandest optimum, and imagine too
eagerly constraints for which no evidence exists. We should
assume that in every way we can have our cake and eat it too,
until it is proved somehow it's not possible.

But no one, IMO, has said it as well as David Pearce:

David's essay is one of the most difficult I've ever read.
Most sentences are of the form "Whereas X, it follows that Y",
where each of X and Y are quite formidable extensions (and more
radical paraphrasings) of what I might have only glimpsed

But next to cryonics, "The Hedonistic Imperative" is the
greatest moral revolution I've experienced in my entire life.


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