Thursday, 12 April 2012

Should we be achieving things in life Part II

Refer back to this and this

I said previously that achieving a goal just might raise our positive utility. I do not see now, how in any way this is the case. Unless the act of attaining such things brings CONSTANT pleasure, or short bursts of MUCH pleasure, then essentially Escapism is always a better method of diversion from our nightmarish pile of filth we call life. I found out recently after some contemplation that goals have always caused me pain, not just when anhedonic. Unless in specific circumstances (like the starting euphoria of a new goal), most of the time achieving things that are hard just brings me a LOT of pain, and if that thing isn't worth achieving, then the promise of a future sustainable happiness being an outright lie as we know (hedonic treadmill), means that it is a far better (and it can probably be argued a more moral) action to just watch TV instead of trying to learn a subject you won't enjoy.

Have I left out anything here? Well the thing is, you can't actually know, as I've said before in those previous two articles, if you're goal-oriented or otherwise, unless you try things out for yourself. Goals give pleasure in a number of ways - firstly, the initial burst of energy and joy that comes with starting any project, secondly the between step "this feels good that I'm accomplishing things" feelings, thirdly the "I've done it this is great" (EXTREMELY SHORT-LIVED) feelings, and lastly the "Did you know I did X?" "Wow you are awesome!" "No, not really" subconscious boasting manoeuvre. My bets are on the last one and the second one being the only reasons you should accomplish things. (a Because it gives you positive utility or (b because it will signal and give you status in the future if you accomplish it - or it will otherwise make life easier. The rush through the starting gates is essentially a nice little delusional kick-start to make sure you actually go through with things in the beginning. But that, like the suicidally short-lived "I've accomplished something!" feelings, is far too short-term to ever condone your long-term suffering for the goal. And trying to accomplish a goal IS long-term suffering, unless you thoroughly enjoy what you're doing.

And I don't. But I'm learning Japanese for another reason: I feel compelled by anxiety and "you must do this before you die, idiot" feelings.

Should we live for positive utility? I think the reason comes down to what I said in Objective Morality: we don't have to, but we probably will anyway. There is no real way to get away from positive utility, because everything is tied up in it. Think you should help other people instead of yourself? That'll still give you positive utility. Think you should live to avoid hurting other people? That is avoiding negative utility (guilt), so the same thing applies. The only real way to purposely go against this is to try to suffer as much as possible, and again, this is probably impossible, so you'll end up living for positive utility anyway, or you'll enjoy it if you're a serious masochist, in which case you are doing it for positive utility.

I know, I know. I haven't said anything of use to anyone in this post. BUT, there's probably more to come, given that my anhedonia has somewhat retreated. I don't feel a lot, but I feel some things now. First time in months.

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