• Raphi
    12
    Here is a hypothesis I developped.

    Evolution by natural selection explains practically every characteristic associated with living things. Some of those things developped a brain, which acts as a machine processing information. Some of those brains developped a technic to better make sens of the information they received. That technic consisted in them developping a model representing the reality they were in. Within that model, some brains even developped the concept of self. They then slowly improved that model. Consciousness is the feeling emerging when a brain introduce the concept of self to its model of reality. Following that line of reasonning, consciousness is not all black or white. Some species can be more or less conscious than other, same thing for individuals within those species. Even a mind can be more or less conscious than it previously was at a different moment in time, depending on the situation; the amount of information to process, the presence of a threat or not, etc. The more conscious is a brain, the more that consciousness begin to control what it does. For a consciousness to be as pronounced as is ours, humans, without it ignoring its needs and those of the body, the brain must have developped a technic to convince its consciousness to spend energy on the things that will help it survive and reproduce. When the brain establish that it needs something, it makes consciousness experience a feeling that has the main characteristic to be unpleasant. It is called suffering. An other way to put it would be to say that suffering is the manifestation of our needs within our consciousness. A consciousness only experiences different variations of that suffering. Unpleasant feelings happen when you suffer more than normal, pleasant feelings when you suffer less. Emotions would be sudden variations in your overall feeling. Following this, the experience of being conscious, to live, is a negative one, if you compare it to death (Death being a state equivalent to before birth).

    So, please feel free to criticize my hypothesis. In fact, that is exactly for that purpose that I put it there.
    It is possible that some words or expressions might be used incorrectly, I speak french. Just tell me if it is the case.
    Also, don't forget that I wrote "Here is a hypothesis...", so the affirmations following that statement should not be taken as if I was affirming anything.

    ____________________________________________________________

    FYI:
    I have difficulties when I try to think about the concepts of suffering and consciousness without one another.
    I feel like the different levels of consciousness someone experiences explain the different levels of accuracy with which that same person remember details about past events. It would also explain why time passes slowly in certain situation and quickly in others.
    I feel like we live in a universe following the principles of causal determinism.
    While writing my hypothesis, I was not sure if I was suppose to translate "souffrance" as "pain" or "suffering". Someone let me know.


    FAQ

    If life is not worth living, if death is a less painful state, why do the majority of people are wrong about it ?
    - For that, I blame the effects of evolution by natural selection on mentalities, which seems to me like a reasonnable explanation.

    You must be suffering a lot to come to such radical conclusions ?
    - No, not that much, although I feel that I am more conscious of my suffering than other people in general.
  • Barry Etheridge
    350
    Suffering is passive. It is the world acting on you. It cannot therefore be all there is because it does not take any account of you acting on the world. It is a sign of mental illness, specifically depression, to believe there is only the world acting on you and that you acting upon the world is futile or impossible. A non-normative state cannot be all there is.
  • Raphi
    12

    Well, thank you for the fact that you adressed the question I put in the title. But that question was meant as a hint about what my hypothesis was about. I thought it would be obvious upon reading my whole post that I did not really ask myself that particular question.
    Did you read it all or did you just answer the title ?
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    No suffering is not "all there is" - evolution not only made pain to act as a motivating scheme but pleasure to counter this. If pain and striving and death were all there was to life, organisms would be more apt to kill themselves. There had to be some form of positive motivational scheme to keep organisms in a state of mind that expects and anticipates a positive experience, as a depressed and always anxious organism is not only likely to kill themselves but is also not very adept at maintaining a healthy existence in general.

    That being said it does seem correct to me to say that the most pleasurable experiences are only able to be experienced when one is not suffering.
  • Barry Etheridge
    350


    I would have thought it abundantly clear that the objection raised by my answer to your title question is a major objection to your hypothesis. But obviously I have failed to meet your exacting standards as to how I am expected to reply to your posts so I won't be bothering in future! Have fun hypothesising in your little echo chamber.
  • Raphi
    12

    I feel like there is an analogy to make with temperature. When we are young or just not familiar with the concept of energy and its direct relation with heat, we have a tendency to perceive temperature as being about neutral when we are confortable, hot when it is hotter than confortable and cold when it is less hot than confortable. The same way I think we have a tendency to perceive our feeling as being about neutral when we are confortable, negative when we feel more suffering and positif when we feel less suffering. But the same way temperature is just about the presence of energy, I think our feeling is just about the presence of suffering. The way you formulate it, it almost look like your perception of pleasure rely on faith more than reasonning, but I might be wrong.
    And it is important to note that my hypothesis is not as detailed as it should be if only I was confortable enough with english. On the surface, it seems implausible that a consciousness could only experience different variation of suffering, but you have to take for account that our brain is also, according to me, really good to entertain illusions, making itself believe that life is more than just suffering.
  • Raphi
    12

    Unless I am very bad at interpreting what people think, I feel like you perceived my previous answer as being rude. That was not intended at all. In fact, I don't think it was rude, since it is a written text without facial expression and ton to it. I thought you were only answering my title, and I genuinely thought it was obvious, and so did you if, as you say, your answer was directed towards my hypothesis. It is not like if we are here to create animosity, there is no call for it imo.
    As for my new answer to your first comment:
    I don't understand what you mean by "Suffering is passive". I see suffering as a feeling that guide you into filling yours needs. I would say that the world acting on you has an effect on your suffering, but I would not say the two concepts are the same. You say that suffering cannot be all there is. Can you provide an example of human behavior that cannot be explained by my model ?
  • Rich
    436
    What I would suggest is that evolution can be precisely described as "change brought about by learning". Suffering is merely a signpost directing the pupil to a different path for learning. In other words, if it is hurting them try something else.
  • javra
    81


    The same way I think we have a tendency to perceive our feeling as being about neutral when we are confortable, negative when we feel more suffering and positif when we feel less suffering.Raphi

    Here’s a different hypothesis: we suffer when we don’t get out way.

    In accordance with the word’s etymology, to suffer is to carry (a load), to be burdened by something. From this vantage, physical pain is different from suffering: e.g. a marathon runner in physical pain while about to be first at the finish line will not be unhappy but happy; his/her burden of physical exhaustion will be very outflanked by his/her getting his/her way, so to speak.

    Thus interpreted, for suffering to occur then mandates a different baseline property of the psyche: the expectation of things turning out the way we plan, anticipate, intend, or desire—and the being pleased by (pleasure of) this outcome. In other words, to be lucky or fortunate, or to have happenstance be on your side: to be happy and thereby feel happy. In this view, the issue becomes converse to that which you’ve hypothesized. For there can be no suffering without a baseline impetus for happiness (as just addressed).

    This isn’t to deny the complexity of the human psyche: conscious and unconscious desires/expectations fluidly converge, as one example. But if we’re talking about the pith of what is foundational to life, I’ll go with the impetus for happiness (however evolved or unevolved it might be relative to our human experience of it).

    On the surface, it seems implausible that a consciousness could only experience different variation of suffering, but you have to take for account that our brain is also, according to me, really good to entertain illusions, making itself believe that life is more than just suffering.Raphi

    This reminds me of another glass-is-half-empty dictum: life, from the moment of birth, is a process of dying. As there’s something odd about this perceptive—it gives you the intuitive feeling that there’s a contradiction there somewhere—so too with the perspective that the baseline of life is suffering. I’m not a merry-go-lucky optimist, by the way. More a realist of sorts.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    But the same way temperature is just about the presence of energy, I think our feeling is just about the presence of suffering. The way you formulate it, it almost look like your perception of pleasure rely on faith more than reasonning, but I might be wrong.Raphi

    No, I think you're trying to reduce all human experience to the pleasure/pain dichotomy, which is crude and not the full picture.

    If everything were suffering, then there would be no independently-good experiences. Deprivationalism 101. But this is too simplistic. Pleasure occurs when we get a dopamine hit, or a hit of serotonin or oxytocin or some of the less important neurotransmitters. This is wholly different than simply the absence of suffering.

    What may be the case is that our satisfaction, our enjoyment, of life can only occur when we aren't suffering very much, in which case the positives outweigh the negatives. There's been countless psychological studies on this; there needs to be roughly five positive experiences to counteract a single negative experience of the same "intensity" so to speak.

    Furthermore, the existence of moods and attitudes effectively rule out suffering as the "only thing". I don't really care too much about how much pleasure or pain I get, so long as I get them in satisfactory amounts, i.e. within a certain threshold.
  • Terrapin Station
    2.7k
    Evolution by natural selection explains practically every characteristic associated with living things.Raphi

    I actually don't agree with this first premise. I think that evolution by natural selection provides the impetus for a lot of features, but a lot of other features have no impact pro or con on members of a species being able to survive to procreate. So natural selection has nothing to do with those features.

    it makes consciousness experience a feeling that has the main characteristic to be unpleasant.Raphi

    That I don't agree with either. Of course, "unpleasant" is a subjective evaluation of the experiences in question . . . but that's not the subjective evaluation I have of the vast majority of experiences in question.
  • Raphi
    12

    Don't you think evolution by natural selection is better described by "change within a species leading towards better survival and reproduction mechanisms" (or something like that). That definition seem way more appropriate considering what we know about it as educated beings. In that way, the fact that the organism is suffering is not a factor forcing change. It can affect it, but it is not mandatory.


    I feel like we have a similar perception of how those concepts behave and interact with one another (suffering, happiness, etc.). I think the disagreement lies in our perception of what underlines those phenomena. I see it as being one component of suffering that presents itself in many different ways as you seem to see it as more than one components, one for suffering, one for hapiness, etc. I probably just over-simplified your perception of it, but I don't know how you explain the presence of those components.
    About an example like the one you brought with the marathon runner, I just see him as experiencing a little bit more suffering from certain needs connected to the physical achievement he just performed and a lot less suffering from other needs that his mind forget during the moment where some chemicals are released in his brain. That makes his overall feeling less suffering than normally. Therefore, he perceives this experience as positive, when in fact, it is just less negative.
    All that paragraph just to illustrate what I said about where we disagree.
    For the-half-empty-glass dictum, I think it gives you that intuitive feeling only if you subconsciously think life has a meaning, or that it is worth living.


    Well, my perception is far from over simplifying human experiences, and I don't deny that people live what they call independently-good experiences. (I just dont see them that way) In my perception, suffering manifest itself under many different forms, (all the possible feelings people would call negative), and the feelings people call positive would be explained by some periods of time where those forms of suffering would be less intense than normally. I don't understand why the presence of chemicals in the brain would refute my hypothesis. Can't these chemicals be the ones that makes you "forget" certains needs during a certain amount of time, which would fit nicely with what I say?


    Can you just give one example or two of such features please ? I don't doubt that they exist if you say so, but I am not aware of their existence. If there is indeed such features, then that premise is wrong, but I put it there just as an explanation of how the features I was talking about came to be. So I don't think it would affect the rest of my reasonning. (I don't imply that you thought so)
    About the "unpleasant" feeling, I understand very well what you say, but I feel like everyone misinterpreted my hypothesis. I don't think that people are constantly conscious of their suffering, and like I said in a previous answer, I know people experience things in many different ways, some they perceive as negative, other as positive, others as more neutral. My hypothesis is more about what is happening under the surface. And, yes I've been sloppy using the word "unpleasant" because I was not sure how to express what I had in mind. I meant a feeling that has as its first characteristic, the fact that the mind who experiences it want to get rid of it.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    Well, my perception is far from over simplifying human experiences, and I don't deny that people live what they call independently-good experiences. (I just dont see them that way) In my perception, suffering manifest itself under many different forms, (all the possible feelings people would call negative), and the feelings people call positive would be explained by some periods of time where those forms of suffering would be less intense than normally. I don't understand why the presence of chemicals in the brain would refute my hypothesis. Can't these chemicals be the ones that makes you "forget" certains needs during a certain amount of time, which would fit nicely with what I say?Raphi

    You still have to refute the experience that something feels good. It's not just relief, it's positively independent good feelings. And it wouldn't be evolutionary advantageous for chemicals to make you forget needs, as needs would not be something we ought to forget about. Rather, these chemicals act as a reward mechanism for achieving some goal.

    Imagine someone hooked up to an experience machine and is artificially fed dopamine hits, a reward mechanism in the brain. This is good feeling, independent of suffering. Or, consider pleasure to be similar to the heat released through friction. It is (usually) inherently tied to some form of striving, but it would be incorrect to identify pleasure with the reduction of suffering, just as it would be incorrect to identify the heat produced through friction with friction itself. It's something that is produced from friction.

    It's one thing to say that positive experience is tied to the relieving of pain, i.e. pleasure is oftentimes reactionary to pain. It's a whole 'nuther thing to say positive experience is only the relief of pain. People aren't just reservoirs of negative experience. To ignore that independent positive experiences exist is to essentially believe that people are fundamentally mistaken about what positive experience is - positive experience is just "an illusion"; yet how can something like this be an illusion? How can we actually be so mistaken about something so personal to us and believe in something that, according to you, is actually impossible? By doing so you have reduced positive experience to nothing more than an absence of something else, when in reality nobody who isn't depressed actually considers their positive experiences to be merely an absence of bad, rather they consider it something independently good.

    Think about it: why does someone like myself like music, or coffee, or walking my dog? Do I like it because I know it is an instance of suffering-reduction? Or do I like it because I like the nature of the experience, because the experience is actually good? Clearly I like to do things because I find them fun, entertaining, pleasurable. It's not just a reduction of suffering but an opportunity to be taken and enjoyed.

    To deny this requires you to believe that all pleasure is a relief from a worse state of experience, and that we're "fooled" into believing this lesser-suffering state is "actually good" (yet where did this concept of an independently good feeling come from?)
  • Terrapin Station
    2.7k
    Can you just give one example or two of such features please ? I don't doubt that they exist if you say so, but I am not aware of their existence. If there is indeed such features, then that premise is wrong, but I put it there just as an explanation of how the features I was talking about came to be. So I don't think it would affect the rest of my reasonning. (I don't imply that you thought so)Raphi

    The problem with giving an example is that there's a good chance that it will turn into a game of "come up with a story so that this characteristic was evolutionarily selected for." But in any event, I'd say that aesthetic reactions are an example.

    bout the "unpleasant" feeling, I understand very well what you say, but I feel like everyone misinterpreted my hypothesis. I don't think that people are constantly conscious of their suffering,Raphi

    I wouldn't say that suffering can obtain if it's not a present-to-consciousness state. At least I wouldn't characterize unconscious, non-mental states as suffering. To me that misses an important aspect of the conventional sense of the term.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    I wouldn't say that suffering can obtain if it's not a present-to-consciousness state.Terrapin Station

    Exactly. Deprivationalism like this requires the holder to not only reduce pleasure to the activity of removing pain but eliminate the byproduct goodness as well. "How can everyone be so happy if all their experiences are just suffering?" It requires you to believe that people actually don't know what they are feeling. As soon as I start considering this I begin to feel as though an illusion might be slipping away - but surely this illusion is nevertheless something real?

    I find it difficult to have an adverse reaction to something I enjoy. Probably because it's actually not suffering.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k


    Raphi, to be clear, you are saying that pleasure is not independently good because it really is only the experience of being in a comparatively lesser suffering state?

    What does it mean when you say that my experience of pleasure, or perhaps my mood of happiness, is actually just a form of suffering, albeit a lesser kind of suffering? How is it that I am "mistaken" by what I feel? Do you think it is plausible that I can be sunbathing on a beach in the Caribbean, drinking a margarita and reading Shakespeare and believe that I am feeling independently positive pleasure, and yet be mistaken in my belief, and actually suffering in all these forms of experience?

    That is the issue here: belief.

    But there's also other issues. In the OP, you refer to suffering as an "unpleasant" experience. Notice how you use the term "pleasant" with the "un" as a prefix. You could have used the word "hurt" or "painful", but you chose "unpleasant". The use of "unpleasant" means that there must be a meaning of "pleasant", but since you are arguing that any pleasant feelings are actually lesser-unpleasant feelings, neither pleasant nor unpleasant have any meaningful definitions. If pleasant feelings are simply lesser-unpleasant feelings, what does it even mean to be unpleasant, since pleasant is deemed to be equivalent to a form of unpleasantness. It seems as though you have a conception of pleasure, and know what it feels like, but wish to get rid of it anyway.

    In other words, it seems that you recognize that people commonly believe they have independently pleasurable experiences, but wish to eliminate them by reducing them to lesser-unpleasant experiences.

    And you later used the analogy to temperature, however this is also problematic, because temperature is an objective feature of reality whereas the experience of heat is subjective. Just as someone may have a million dollars and feel poor, someone else may get their first job and feel rich.

    There's another issue here, a phenomenological one. Compare the experience of avoidance and pursuit. We avoid suffering and pursue pleasure. We do not simply avoid suffering. When I find something to be pleasurable, I do not tell myself "this sure is better than the alternative!" I tell myself "I sure am glad I'm able to experience this, it feels good!"

    Are you attempting to argue that what we see as independently good experiences only look good when in comparison to our current state? If so, then this also runs into problems when one considers going into a worse state of experience. Consider: you have a splitting migraine, and suddenly get your arm broken. Clearly you went from a bad state to an even worse state. But then say you get your arm mended but you retain your migraine. You of course will call this a better state of experience, but surely you wouldn't forget about your migraine? Surely you would still have a migraine that is painful and hurts? Surely you wouldn't see the migraine as pleasurable?

    Thus there seems to be a necessary threshold.

    Perhaps, as you said earlier, the neurotransmitters act as a sort of "forget" function in the brain, so that we forget our needs. In the OP, you said that suffering is the phenomenal experience of needs. Therefore, if we forget our needs, we no longer suffer. Thus pleasurable experiences, far from simply being lesser-suffering experiences, are independently positive experiences that we feel when we do not have to worry about our needs. In fact this is similar to the Buddhist conception of bliss, which states that basically bliss is attainable when we stop striving. As soon as we simply be, bliss comes naturally and automatically.

    Then there's also the issue where I have options to cease consciousness. I could take sleeping pills and go to bed, but I choose not to, because I want to stay awake because I enjoy doing the things I'm doing. And it's not that I feel suffering when I go to bed. There is a positive reinforcement going on here.

    The biggest issue by far, though, is that you have to explain where we got the idea of an independently-arising pleasurable experience and how we believe we have them while in reality not ever getting such.

    I'm curious as to what your reply might be. It seems you have a tall order in front of you - you must be able to defend the claim that all experiences are a form of suffering, even if we don't consider them to be sufferings.
  • TheMadFool
    555
    Extremes are life-threatening. Heard of homeo stasis?

    Therefore, I think that while suffering is patently bad, we're blind to the dangers of pleasure.
  • Rich
    436
    Don't you think evolution by natural selection is better described by "change within a species leading towards better survival and reproduction mechanisms" (or something like that). That definition seem way more appropriate considering what we know about it as educated beings. In that way, the fact that the organism is suffering is not a factor forcing change. It can affect it, but it is not mandatory.Raphi

    It's impossible to prove that all change is due to natural selection for survival. What would be the proof? The species survived? Well in this case, natural selection had worked very poorly since so many species disappear.

    One can make a case that many, if not most, activities in human experiences have very little to do with survival. More broadly, I would propose that all activities are associated with learning, learning to live longer being a subset of the larger initiative. In this context, suffering is a whisper (or maybe a shout) to try something else.
  • Raphi
    12

    As you say, it seems that I have a tall order in front of me.
    Well, at first read, it seems that some of the problems you brought up could be answered by taking into consideration that the model of reality human beings have inside their brain is imperfect. So I might make allusions to that in future arguments.

    I think every feeling is a variation of suffering, but our brain classifies them on a spectrum ranging from what it considers negative to what it considers positive. So it gives us the impression that there exists negative, neutral and positive feelings, when in fact, I pretend it is all some sort of suffering. In other words, I would refer to what I said in the previous paragraph. The way our brain misinterprets our reality leads to it stating “I feel good” when it feels less suffering.

    I just want to mention, before I continue, that I don’t pretend my affirmations are facts, I only make affirmations to illustrate my hypothesis.

    I think it can be evolutionary advantageous for our brain to regulate our feelings of need (suffering as I see it) in such a way that, sometimes, it makes us forget some needs. As an extreme and simplified example, you might be hiking somewhere when your brain suddenly makes you feel the need to eat. Twenty seconds later, you see a bear. In that case, I think it can be advantageous for your brain to completely forget about hunger in order to address the new needs emerging from the presence of a bear near you. Although being an extreme situation, it serves to demonstrate that a statement like “it wouldn't be evolutionary advantageous for chemicals to make you forget needs” might be a little bit too simple to make a point in my opinion.
    Yes, your brain, having an imperfect model of reality, perceives some feelings as rewards. That reward being a feeling in which you don’t suffer over some needs you normally suffer over.

    If I understand correctly, the point you make with your analogy is that pleasure is not the reduction of suffering itself. It would be a product of it. And I think I agree. I think what we call pleasure is the state of mind we are left in after that reduction of suffering. And I think that state consists in a feeling with less suffering than normal, which your brain perceive as good feeling.

    “To ignore that independent positive experiences exist is to essentially believe that people are fundamentally mistaken about what positive experience is”
    Yes that is part of my whole hypothesis. I think the human brain would have evolved in such a way that it perceives some experiences as good, whether or not those good experiences really exist.

    I think what happens is, your brain recognize that drinking coffee would be what it calls a positive event. It makes your consciousness feel the need to drink coffee and you, in order to fill that need, you drink it, and when you reflect on it, your imperfect perception of reality makes you reason that drinking coffee is something positive that did not require suffering. Me, I pretend that you experiencing a need was you suffering, and that without any suffering, you would not have decided to drink a coffee, in fact, without suffering, your consciousness would not do anything. In fact, I don’t even think you would experience consciousness without suffering. But that last statement is just a consequence of my hypothesis being true, if it is, so I don’t think we would make progress arguing on that in particular.

    “yet where did this concept of an independently good feeling come from?”
    Again, I think it is a matter of our brain having evolved in such a way that it perceives reality in a more practical way than an accurate one.

    “As soon as I start considering this I begin to feel as though an illusion might be slipping away - but surely this illusion is nevertheless something real?”
    Well, at first, when I read that, I tried to define real, but I don’t think that was the best way to address that question.
    A lot of people often feel cold; you might use the same logic to pretend that this illusion of the existence of coldness is real, and you would be right, the illusion itself is real. But the fact that your perception of reality leads you to nourish an illusion does not tell you much about what is really happening.
    I think you find it difficult to have adverse reaction to something you enjoy the same way a child find it difficult to understand that -30 degrees Celsius is not really cold, but just less warm (the first time he is told coldness is just the absence of heat).

    “Raphi, to be clear, you are saying that pleasure is not independently good because it really is only the experience of being in a comparatively lesser suffering state?”
    Basically, yes.

    “Do you think it is plausible that I can be sunbathing on a beach in the Caribbean, drinking a margarita and reading Shakespeare and believe that I am feeling independently positive pleasure, and yet be mistaken in my belief, and actually suffering in all these forms of experience?”
    Also yes.

    I think the issue you raise about belief is well addressed by my answer to your question about the “realness” of your illusion.

    About the choice of the word unpleasant, I just feel in general that our human languages have been based on our incorrect understanding of psychological phenomena. So, I would need my own language to really be accurate in what I say. But even though I think cold does not exist, I use the world cold to be understood. Also, it is way easier to follow what I say if I use the expression “unpleasant feeling” instead of “feeling that has the characteristic that its holder wants it to go away”. You could say I find it unpleasant to have to use a word like “unpleasant”.

    “And you later used the analogy to temperature, however this is also problematic, because temperature is an objective feature of reality whereas the experience of heat is subjective. Just as someone may have a million dollars and feel poor, someone else may get their first job and feel rich.”
    What “subjective” means is that your experience of heat is influenced by feelings, tastes or opinions; I don’t see how it disqualifies my analogy. I don’t claim anything about how you perceive your feelings; I claim something about what constitutes those feelings.

    “There's another issue here, a phenomenological one. Compare the experience of avoidance and pursuit. We avoid suffering and pursue pleasure. We do not simply avoid suffering. When I find something to be pleasurable, I do not tell myself "this sure is better than the alternative!" I tell myself "I sure am glad I'm able to experience this, it feels good!"”
    If my hypothesis is wrong, I don’t think it will be about something like that. I can just replace what you call “pleasure” by “less suffering” and “suffering” by “more suffering” and it makes perfect sense. Here it is just a problem of what name we give to what concept. We should not forget that we observe the same phenomena and the same interactions between them; our disagreement is about how to explain them.

    “Are you attempting to argue that what we see as independently good experiences only look good when in comparison to our current state?”
    Basically, yes.
    Although I used the analogy with temperature a lot in my previous answers, I feel like it serves me very well in that discussion, since it is about how a brain perceive something in a practical way, what can lead someone to misinterpret somethings. If I use it again, basically, your example is about someone getting hot, then getting hotter, then getting back to hot and not considering that cold even though he was hotter previously. I think it makes sense; your brain is not in that hotter state for a long enough period in order for it to readjust its perception of cold, neutral and hot to that new standard. If your arm makes you suffer during 25 years, and your migraine never goes away during that time, and then your arm stop hurting you, your mind will probably enjoy that new feeling.
    In other words, I don’t pretend your perception of pleasure is related to your previous feelings, I pretend it is related to the imperfect model of reality your brain has created about feelings.

    You might argue that there exist independently positive experiences, which can arise when we don’t suffer, but to me it feels more like faith than anything else since my hypothesis seems complete without it.

    If our perception of reality was perfect, I think we would seek the absence of consciousness.




    “I wouldn't say that suffering can obtain if it's not a present-to-consciousness state. At least I wouldn't characterize unconscious, non-mental states as suffering. To me that misses an important aspect of the conventional sense of the term.”

    You are right. Basically, I just expressed myself in a wrong way. To accurately put my thoughts into words, I should have written something like “I don’t think people understand that what they are experiencing is always some sort of suffering, that the absence of consciousness might be the “better” state they could ever be in”.
    By “better”, I mean “less worse”.




    I’m not sure how your comment fits into our discussion here or even my hypothesis. Could you make the connection more clear to me please?




    “It's impossible to prove that all change is due to natural selection for survival. What would be the proof? The species survived? Well in this case, natural selection had worked very poorly since so many species disappear.”

    The theory of evolution by natural selection basically pretend that our designed-like appearance can be explained by the simple fact that the organism that is more fit to survive and reproduce has more chance to survive and reproduce than another organism being less fit at it. In other words, the theory makes a connection between two individually obvious facts. (1. We look just as if we had been designed. 2. The fitter organism is more likely to survive and reproduce)
    Changes are explained mostly by mutation I think.
    Evolution by natural selection can explains how organisms have developed such physical features; it can also explain how some species have survived while others have not. You can make an analogy between species and mutations if you want to make it more intuitive.

    “One can make a case that many, if not most, activities in human experiences have very little to do with survival. More broadly, I would propose that all activities are associated with learning, learning to live longer being a subset of the larger initiative. In this context, suffering is a whisper (or maybe a shout) to try something else.”
    You have an interesting point here, but I don’t think you are right. I think that since consciousness has developed as one of our features, a lot of our behavior changed in agreement with the theory. I think those who have a perception of reality that makes them more fit to survive and reproduce are those who have more chance to do so. Mentalities play a big role in that.
    So yes, if you look at a particular activity of some random human being, you might not see the connection with survival, but it is not because there is none, it is because you don’t understand well enough the relations between, human behavior, mentalities, perception of reality and survival.
  • Terrapin Station
    2.7k
    “I don’t think people understand that what they are experiencing is always some sort of suffering,Raphi

    Well, what sort of suffering is it if you're not aware of it? If there are no negative emotions involved, it seems to miss something important re the normal connotations of the word "suffering."
  • Raphi
    12
    Can someone please explain to me how to quote ?
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