18 Jul A world without suffering?
Imagine a world where human beings do not suffer at all, both physically and mentally.
Seems pretty far-fetched to us right now, but there are brilliant minds out there that believe that this is where our future is headed.
Transhumanism is a loose term used to define a movement that believes the current human condition can be radically improved through technology. It states that mankind as we know it is actually in its early phases and does not represent the end of our development.
Often this idea makes people think of biologically superior superhumans with technology that allows them to live forever (The Terminator lol), but it is much more than that.
The Hedonistic Imperative is a thesis that branches off of Transhumanist values to paint a future where pain is completely abolished through drugs and genetic engineering.
People that are a part of the Hedonistic Imperative movement not only believe that this will happen, but that we are morally obligated to make sure it does.
Actually let the idea of that sink in. No pain. No suffering.
That means no feelings of sadness, no feelings of guilt, no anxiety; every point of suffering would be programmed out of our minds.
No human would have unpleasant experiences and everyone would live in a constant state of bliss.
Can you imagine how different every single thing in our lives would be? Avoiding suffering in ourselves and others is the base value of every decision we make.
Most of us live in a constant flux between feeling good and feeling bad.
One of the things we admire the most in modern day society is mental strength. There would be no need for it – goodbye to meditation, deep breathing exercises, the words of affirmation we tell ourselves, self-help books, etc.
Our lives wouldn’t be based around our insecurities. Being happy would be as natural to us as breathing.
Sounds pretty crazy, but tell someone from 200 years ago that in the future we would have powerful painkillers and anaesthetic to rid almost any human of physical pain and they’d say it’s unfathomable too.
Of course there are many objections to the Hedonistic Imperative.
Let’s just focus on the ones that relate to its possibility.
First of all, how could it be possible to always be happy? If you’ve never experienced suffering, how do you have a frame of reference for what happiness is? Wouldn’t life just become bland and numb?
Without a low, how could there be a high? The argument against this is the example of someone who suffers beyond what an average person could bear.
Think of someone born with a crippling genetic ailment that causes them to be in excruciating pain all the time. Does this individual not know they are suffering?
Do they not know what happiness is even though they will never experience happiness as we do? The argument goes back the other way.
Another objection is that without suffering, there would be no human progress. Where would people find the motivation to do better and improve if they’re perfectly happy as is?
Science already disapproves this theory. People with high levels of dopamine do not get lazy; actually, they tend to be more charismatic, energetic, and are more likely to engage in productive and purposeful activities.
People of the Hedonistic Imperative believe that our current emotional limitations are keeping us from fully enjoying the beauty around us and that without all the negative attributes, we would experience things more deeply and passionately.
“Better still, our descendants, and in principle perhaps even our elderly selves, will have the chance to enjoy modes of experience we primitives cruelly lack. For on offer are sights more majestically beautiful, music more deeply soul-stirring, sex more exquisitely erotic, mystical epiphanies more awe-inspiring, and love more profoundly intense than anything we can now properly comprehend.“
Without diving deeper into ethical and politcal concerns, genetically altering our genes for the better is sounding pretty good to me right about now – like being in a state of euphoria that drugs or being in love can bring, but permanently and with zero drawbacks.
According to Transhuman theories, we are still in a stage of Pre-Darwinian evolution and that is the next step we will evolve to.
All of these negative emotions we feel had a purpose once and were necessary for survival, but do we really need them anymore?
If you ask someone who believes in the Hedonistic Imperative, the answer is no.
Although it is in the very beginning phases (google wire-heading the brain of rats to release constant dopamine; pretty neat), we’ve actually already begun to look at making this a reality.
Is our world really headed into an existence with no suffering?