the pursuit of metahappiness
I can think of at least two other choices that exist other than the two you listed:

* Create a balance between the base happiness and the meta-happiness, as many of us typically do (e.g., spend an hour cleaning the house, and then an hour or two in front of the TV).

* Focus on what you feel you "should do" now, expecting to be able to focus on the base stuff later.
--Max Mon Jul 18 14:23:47 2005
In my thesis studies, I've run into it. Pretty much, I read bits of Brave New World about a month ago and wondered about it's 'dystopianness.' People will cite the social conditioning aspect of it, in other words, your 'happy but dumb' idiom, but in many ways, the argument based simply on logic or even pathos really doesn't work because the leader of that society convinced me and plenty of college students pretty well and the argument could easily be made that we're so averse to that society and vote more for the suffering Savage simply because that's pretty much the existence that we know as compared to this strange pleasurable world. After agonizing over it for awhile, though, I realized that Huxley was making his argument very much based on ethos, essentially the importance of freedom.

So from there, I did a little browsing around the Web for Doesteyesfky <sp?> because I remember reading a lot about his vieing after freedom and also the story of Grand Inquisitor. I haven't read the Brother's Karamazov, so I my understanding of Grand Inquisitor is pretty superficial, but I also found this interesting comparison of John Milton and Doesteyesfky. Pretty much, Milton argued for freedom because he believed its the individual's responsibility to find their salvation and the government shouldn't mess with the individual for that reason, but then again, he didn't care about the lower classes because he didn't believe that cared enough to have revolution against their monarch. Oh, the Puritans. Doesteyesfky pretty much had a martyr complex.

From all this research, I pretty much came up with the answer that I needed for my work, that ethos plays a big part in utopias and dystopias. As for the actual answer to your question, I guess I don't have real answer to it other than that I have do a lot more research into the discourse between individuals with each other and society, but the more that I'm reading, the more that I'm running into interesting quotes like: Which aspects of the world are to be relativised and which 'real-ised' is a choice typically shaped by moral, political or pragmatical precepts, not epistemology or ontology." (Cromby & Nightingale, 1999, p. 8) at

I'll report back when I learn more. =D
--Mr. Lex Mon Jul 18 15:02:44 2005
Oh, just to make this whole thing longer, science and empiricism really has become a bugger for these kinds of questions because science is supposed to be "value free." The main problem there, in the long run, is that with science, we can't explain how phenomena relate to our subjective or metaphysical experience nor does science really provide a good fundamental argument for values and things such as human rights. Then the Romantics had to go show that fallacy back in the 19th century, so now all we have are fundamentalists, esoteric academics, fascist terrorists, power mongering cynical corporations and people who have no idea what's going on, at all (over generalization going on there). . .or maybe I should say we're just left with philosophers and fools that don't listen to each other.

--Mr. Lex Mon Jul 18 15:11:32 2005
Re: your first point, I think you're right in that I had a bit of "fallacy of the excluded middle" there. On the other hand, some of the related questions, like whether or not to have kids, are pretty either/or.

Re: your second point, I don't know. It just sounds like focusing on the "should" and assume the other stuff will take care of itself one way or the other. (the one way being "oh look I have enough time for myself", the other being "I'm taking this time anyway".)
--Kirk Tue Jul 19 08:36:28 2005
Lex -- agree that the Savage wasn't my hero in Brave New World. I don't think jamming society with that much genetic predeterminism is a good either, but the world shown didn't seem *that* bad, if memory serves. (I like the idea of pre-warmed contraceptives...)

Re: Science and general the two aren't terribly related but I feel science is much better at making reliable estimates at what the Universe is like, because unlike most other belief systems it makes doubt and testing part of its core.

Morality all comes down to what your axioms are, your baseline assumptions that we have to make to not get caught in solipsistic absurdity. Followers of Islam tend to feel it's axiomatic that the Koran and Mohammed are 100% true, and everything else flow from that. Some other belief systems, like secular humanism, make less radical assumptions. But even "inclusive" paths like what the "UU" seems to follow have some assumptions built in, like about the ultimate subjectivness of the religous experience, a viewpoint that very nearly every fundamentalist belief system rejects outright. (I think some UUers, with their inclusive outlook, assume they're transcendent in the way they accept almost anything, but haven't formulated their policy about "tolerance of intolerance", the old "ACLU to defend KKK's right to bomb ACLU headquarters" shtick.)
--Kirk Tue Jul 19 08:49:06 2005
I agree with you when it comes to physical matters and science and predicting those types of things, even though sometimes I wonder about the wacky theories that come out lately. . .but then again, I'm not amazingly versed in advanced sciences, so I guess I can't criticize what I can't understand.

I also agree with you that science and morality don't generally have much to do with each other except that Classical Greeks and Romanas and also during Enlightenment, they tried to base morality on the rationality of "God" or "Nature" and there's also plenty of people these days who base their morality on something of a perverted Darwinist Survival of the Fittest and also some kind of responsibility to encourage the evolutionary change of humanity toward some higher state of humanity. . .which I gather they look at it from a more physical rather than moral/social viewpoint.

As for morality, itself, though, I would like to find or discover an actual reasoned out morality that doesn't necessarily have a base element of "God," some kind of rational "nature" or the necessity of the social contract because without it, we'll enter some kind of Hobbesian State of Savagery (best that I can remember the name of it).

I guess my philosophy begins a lot at the idea that individual human beings have a self-interest for diversity and non-violence (including economic non-violence), but I have yet to research more into this direction or to reach an acceptable next step of contemplation.

I'll make that my next step after I finish my thesis. The thesis feels like it could be something of a stepping stone for it.
--Mr. Lex Tue Jul 19 09:37:23 2005
"God or somebody save us from any society founded on Darwinian principles."
--Richard "Selfish Gene" Dawkins.

There are so many fallacies with "encouraging" evolution on the societal level. People forget that evolution's "goals" are not their own. Also, assuming that man is ever "outside" of nature enough to determine if evolution happens or not is incorrect.

--Kirk Tue Jul 19 09:43:24 2005
So true. From what I've read and heard about Dawkins, I'd really like to read his work.

The title of his book feels somewhat like a misnomer, even though literally, it means what it says. When I first read it, though, I read more as the gene that makes us selfish as compared to the fact that genes are selfish, only pretty much using us as vehicles for their own needs.
--Mr. Lex Tue Jul 19 10:08:13 2005
Dawkins really isn't that good a writer; Matt Ridley's Genome is a much better treatment of intelligent design. Dawkins tends to be arrogant, obtuse and self aggrandising, I find.
--Catherine Thu Jul 21 09:37:02 2005

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