Responding to Alias Feting

This is a response to a video by Alias Feting (here). His video was a response to my video titled “Efilism Arguing the Argument”. This will be long, because of the nature of his criticisms. He tries to place a very large burden of proof on me, which forces me to explain a lot of things.

I copied the transcript of his YouTube video, and I will interleave the text from that with my responses. I cleaned up some of the speech-to-text errors, but otherwise left it as is.

Before we start, here are the three reasons I reject efilism:

  1. I reject the claim that life is net-negative hedonically. I think pain and pleasure balance out.
  2. I reject hedonism as a theory of value. It is an unquestioned assumption, not a self-evident truth or a logical truth.
  3. I reject altruism, and morality in general. Again, it is an unquestioned assumption, not a self-evident or logical truth.

Will Alias Feting address these criticisms of efilism?

We shall see.

Hello, so this video is basically a reply to a video called efilism arguing the argument by a YouTuber called Blithering Genius.

Now, it’s a bit of an old video I think it was recorded around a year and a half ago. I did reach out after the video was recorded to Blithering Genius to have a discussion with him about efilism. We had a discussion. I think he also recorded it and posted it on his discord, but the quality of my mic wasn’t so good, so it wasn’t very optimal.

The audio is up on Spreaker (here). He also left the discord server because I “tolerate Nazis”. That is somewhat ironic, considering that efilists believe in the annihilation of all life, while the so-called “Nazis” just want an ethnostate.

So, after a while I’ve just decided to record this video to reply to his arguments because I think his arguments are valuable. There’s not a lot of people who actually try to tackle efilism in a constructive way or actually having any true discussion or true dialogue with the ideology. So, I thought i thought his criticism, even though I didn’t agree with it, was all in all pretty constructive and this video is meant to tackle it.

The second part of let’s say the story is the fact that Blithering Genius had some kind of dialogue with well if you can call it a dialogue with Inmendham, which is basically the founder of efilism, and it got into a very very unpleasant tones and I did watch some of the videos between them but they were in my opinion very very unconstructive. Inmendham was very uncharitable, as he usually is, towards the arguments of uh BG (that’s that’s how I’m going to call Blithering Genius for now), and then BG’s replied to him also unpolitely and there was not a lot of value there to be found because it was it wasn’t really a dialogue it was more two people kind of yelling at each other.

That’s not a good description of the exchange. Inmendham wasn’t really yelling. He mostly just preached over my videos without listening to them, arguing against strawmen. In my response, I explained how he was full of shit, but I also went into more depth about the philosophical and psychological issues. To just dismiss it as two people yelling at each other is not fair.

I have also made quite a few videos since then, on the topic of efilism, some responding to comments, and some slide-show type videos. You clearly didn’t listen to those, I have already addressed many of the examples and thought-experiments you bring up in this video.

So even though i agree with the ideology of Inmendham way more than i am with BG, I do have to admit I prefer his rhetorics and generally the civility and the style of BG over Inmendham. Even thought I would consider myself as you know efilist or efilist-adjacent, I don’t feel that the way Inmendham carries himself or has arguments with other people is respectable or productive. So…that’s too bad, right. I can understand that he’s pissed, and I can understand why the truths that he kind of learned about the world made him a bit more…uh…maybe cynical and jaded about people, and his way to deal with it is, you know, yelling at them and calling them names, but you know it’s just more of a personal preference of mine…I just don’t like it very much.

Okay, without further ado, let’s dive into the arguments themselves. So, there are basically a few arguments that BG raised which I’m gonna tackle here. It’s not all of his video because a lot of it is was also as I mentioned was dedicated to the rhetorics of Inmendham, which I’m not very interested in covering. I will cover the the arguments that are more relevant to kind of tackle efilism. Another thing is i’m not going to go through what is efilism because it’s already covered in the original video by Blithering Genius, and I would assume that anyone who’s going to enter this video already knows about efilism, because otherwise how the hell did you find this video, right?

So, I would assume you know what efilism is and i would assume that you also watched uh at least partially the the the video of Blithering Genius, so i wouldn’t go like you know um sentence by sentence like a lot of the videos doing I’m just gonna kind of try to summarize his arguments and reply to them uh in the most let’s say charitable way, and I’m gonna try to make them as strong as possible and only then take them down — to steel-man them uh as as they say.

I think you should have gone through at least the main points sentence by sentence, because your paraphrase of my views is not very good. And you certainly did not steel-man them.

Okay, so there are basically let’s say four areas of arguments or sections or veeams, which are.. First of all is the theory of desire, which BG shows … uh, which is kind of Buddhistic theory…


The Buddhist view of desire is that desire causes suffering and we should try to transcend desire, essentially. That’s closer to efilism than to my view.

….that he proposes….to how pleasure and pain and or let’s say good valance states versus negative valance states work.

Why not call them “pleasure” and “pain”? Why do we need this new term “valance state”? That term has a meaning in chemistry, which is totally unrelated to what we’re talking about here.

He also claims that they’re…because of his theory….uh….the suffering or the pain is is and the pleasure when they sum together they’re basically kind of zero sum so kind of the pain and the pleasure cancels themselves

What I say is that pain is the experience of increasing motivation, and pleasure is the experience of decreasing motivation, and so you need to experience pain before you can experience pleasure, and they balance out over time (although there is a wrinkle at the end of life, which you bring up).

uh he also attacks hedonism….uh….basically we’re proposing that hedonism is not all that it is and it’s it’s not something that should be the most important thing we look at it.

See, now this is why you should have gone sentence by sentence, at least for the main points. That’s a terrible paraphrase of my position.

I said that I reject hedonism. I mentioned some problems with it, such as the zero-sum nature of emotional experience and its transience. But primarily, I pointed out that it is an unquestioned assumption. We are not compelled by logic or rationality to accept it.

Are you going to argue that hedonism is implied by logic or rationality? That we are compelled somehow to accept it? If so, that would be interesting. If not, then you haven’t addressed my rejection of hedonism. Arguing against my theory of desire is not the same as arguing for hedonism.

He also discusses altruism and why he is also doesn’t believe in altruism and anything he thinks it’s fake.

Again, that’s a terrible paraphrase.

The two main points that I made were:

  1. Life forms evolved to be reproductively selfish, not altruistic.
  2. Altruism is an unquestioned assumption. We are not compelled by logic or rationality to accept it. There are no moral obligations forced on us by logic or the cosmos.

Are you going to address those two points?

Are you going to explain that we did evolve to be altruistic?

Are you going to prove that we are compelled by logic or stardust to be altruistic?

And eventually I’m gonna summarize and try to kind of um show you what I believe in and why I think his arguments are not very strong and not really tackling efilism correctly.

Okay so let’s start.

So, first is the theory of desire. The idea behind the theory of desire of what BG shows is is kind of a very simple mechanism of how good sensation or feelings are created and how negative or bad sensations or feelings are created and the idea is quite simple. So, we have…because we are biological machines…we have desires. Those desires are crucial to our survival and to our reproduction um and basically each time when we have desire like when the desire rises let’s create some kind of level of pain or unsatisfaction and then after the desire subdues after we manage to get what we want then we get pleasure as a reward in a way.

I would never say that we “get pleasure as a reward”. That’s a homunculus fallacy. We experience pleasure when motivation is reduced. We experience pain when motivation increases.

Okay so a very simple example would be hunger, right. So hunger is basically a desire for food. When we want food we experience strong sensations of hunger until we eat, and then we enjoy the food, and then generally we had some kind of you know pain in terms of hunger, and then some kind of pleasure uh in terms of what we had when we ate our delicious meal.

Okay so so far I’m not really arguing with it. I feel like it’s a it’s a decent model. It does describe a lot of uh let’s say processes that we have. It also happens with sex, right. We feel desires towards having sex, and then we have sex, and then in the moment of climax we have the orgasm. So it does…it’s true this process happens a lot, but the issue of it it’s not enough.

So you admit that my theory explains some things. But you’re going to argue that my theory is wrong because it can’t explain certain things. However, you’re not going to actually try to explain those things with my theory. Nor did you ask me if I could explain them, although we’ve talked before, and you know how to contact me. You’re just going to claim that my theory can’t explain them.

Well, it can, and I have already addressed some of the things you bring up in other videos. I will explain them all here.

But I want to point out that this type of argumentation is fallacious. It’s a bad-faith rhetorical tactic. To some extent, it is the Gish-Gallop fallacy. To some extent, it is shifting the burden of proof, or trying to place an infinite burden of proof on one side. To some extent, it is an appeal to complexity.

When people want to reject an idea, they’ll often just throw mud at it, and hope some of the mud sticks. They’ll also insist that the other side deal with every possible objection, while accepting no such burden themselves. Instead of using simple examples that clarify the issues, they will use complicated examples that require much more explanation. And the critic will never be satisfied. No matter how much is explained, he can always demand more.

That’s what you’re doing here, and of course I don’t agree to play that game. I don’t have to spend my entire life explaining every possible example a critic can think of.

Human psychology and behavior are complex, so you can find lots of things that are hard to explain, and that require time to explain.

A fair comparison of theories is to define both to the same level of clarity, define the evidence that both have to explain, and then evaluate how well they explain it.

You are not proposing an alternative theory, at least, not to any level of clarity that would allow it to be evaluated wrt the evidence. You don’t seem to have thought critically about your own views.

Okay, so it’s true that we have a lot of time desires that increase and when we solve them…but we also have a lot of sensations, positive or negative sensations, that is very hard to describe by just taking this process…meaning this model is very very partial and doesn’t explain all the things that we have. So, let’s use some other examples and see how the model fits into them, right.

So, uh, let’s take phantom limb pain. So, phantom limb pain is when someone has a limb that he lost…yeah…and then for some reason usually it’s because of some kind of you know maybe a bug in the brain or in the in the body, some kind of dysfunction, he starts feeling pain from the limb that doesn’t exist anymore. So let’s say someone has had his hand amputated and now he feels like his arm is is hurting where it’s got cut even though there is nothing there. So obviously there is some negative sensations there, so let’s try to fit it to the desired framework. Um…so what is exactly the desire that is being created and fulfilled here? The desire of having a hand?

No. Desire doesn’t come attached to ideas like that. You have no “bodily integrity” or “must have a hand” desire. You have various receptors in the skin that send information to the brain.

I actually addressed a very similar question in “Responding to Conundrums” (which you obviously didn’t listen to). There is a written version (here). I’ll paste his question and my response:

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Conundrum: So… when you have a leg blown off by a land mine and you scream from pain, what exactly do you desire, apart from the pain to stop? Desire for what has increased?

You don’t desire for the pain to stop. That way of thinking about emotion is fundamentally flawed. It’s a kind of homunculus fallacy.

Desire doesn’t start out as being “for” anything. It is preconscious. If you break your leg, the nerves in your leg send information to your brain that simply conveys that something bad happened to your leg. They have location information and they signal “injury”. This then generates motivation to do something. It’s not the conscious recognition that your leg is broken that generates the motivation, or the pain. It’s the nerves firing in the leg. The conscious idea of what to do is secondary. A desire “for” something is secondary. That can only come later, once the motivation has been processed through an idea to become an intention.

An injury generates motivation to do something. That motivation could generate an action that solves a problem. For example, if a crocodile is biting your leg, you might move your leg and try to escape or fight off the crocodile. But to have the intention to fight off the crocodile, you must first identify the crocodile as the problem. The pain in your leg doesn’t carry that information. Other information (e.g. seeing the crocodile) has to be integrated with the information of the pain by your brain, to generate an idea of the problem and how to solve it. The emotion itself does not contain that information. Motivation, in itself, has no representational content.

If you break your leg, there might not be anything you can do about it, although screaming might be a useful action (it could bring help). If your leg is blown off by a land mine, you’re motivated to get help quickly so you don’t die. Maybe your leg can be saved. There are lots of things you might be able to do, but the nerves in your leg don’t know anything about that stuff, nor does the emotion center in your brain. That level of understanding arises in consciousness after a lot of information has been integrated into ideas. Desire/motivation precedes intention.

If there is nothing you can do about the injury, then you might say “Fuck, I wish the pain would go away”, because there’s nothing you can do about it. After a while you will get used it, and only be periodically aware of it. The motivation will still have a function: to prevent you from moving, so your leg can heal. In most circumstances that motivation generates inaction, not action, but it’s still motivation.

The homunculus fallacy is a common error that people make in thinking about psychology. People often think of different parts of the brain as if they were conscious entities themselves, or talk about the brain as if the brain had its own inner brain. There is a subtle homunculus fallacy in viewing pain and pleasure as punishment and reward. A cupcake is a reward, because it alleviates hunger, which is a kind of motivation. Pleasure is not a reward, because it does not alleviate any motivation. It is the experience of decreasing motivation. There is no little homunculus inside the brain that desires pleasure and could thus be rewarded by it. If there were, then a theory of motivation would have to regress inside the homunculus. We’d have to figure out what motivates the homunculus, or in other words, why the homunculus seeks pleasure and avoids pain. To assume that pain is simply bad and pleasure is simply good is to beg the question.

There is no homunculus in the brain that runs away from a pain whip and toward a pleasure carrot. Pain is not a punishment and pleasure is not a reward. There is a mechanism in the brain that generates and evaluates action. Pain and pleasure are the subjective experiences of changes in the state of that mechanism.

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That covers phantom pain, which is either caused by the cut nerves firing for some reason, or by the absence of them firing, which the brain interprets as a problem, and so you feel an ache or pain in that area.

I actually have phantom pain from a piece of my back that was removed due to cancer. I don’t feel constant pain from it. But sometimes I feel some pain, or I have a strange sensation which is like the “ghost” of the removed skin, crying out for help. It’s hard to explain. If I focus my attention on my back, I feel a strange sensation from that area.

So, my theory can explain phantom pain. It’s not a counter-example.

What is your explanation of it?

Or just I just know it just doesn’t seem that there is any desire here. It just seems like some kind of error or some kind of problem of the body that creates that.

Your mistake is thinking of motivation as if it were always attached to an idea, such as “desire for a hand”. Motivation is just “DO SOMETHING”. It can be attached to ideas, but it doesn’t start out that way.

Second example: let’s say you want to go to a vacation, and then you going and starting reading about the place. Let’s say you want to go to a vacation to Hawaii so you go and read travel guides to Hawaii and you you look for for your hotel for a nice hotel and you you just browse and see images from Hawaii and you know a lot of people say that this is the most pleasurable part and the vacation is actually planning it

The process contains lots of moments of pain and pleasure, interleaved, just like everything else, and the net pain + pleasure is zero.

Um, and it’s true it is fun to plan a vacation or a trip and it also doesn’t seems like there is a very obvious you know desire and satisfaction of desire here. Um so what is exactly the desire? Like okay i can understand maybe in terms of the vacation itself, what is this desire as being fulfilled here, but the planning of the vacation like…what is the desire is for the vacation to be planned and by planning it by watching looking at images from Hawaii? I’m somehow fulfilling this desire…I mean i guess you could go with it, but it just feels very very weak right um….because like I don’t know things like you know watching and fantasizing about the vacation is not even helping you in a that’s a practical way to to solve the problem of getting your vacation planned. Okay, so that also doesn’t seem that fits the framework well.

Essentially, the desire that motivates you to plan a vacation is boredom. That boredom can be alleviated by the vacation planning and by the vacation itself.

Again, it is important not to confuse an intention, or a value, with motivation itself. The “desire for a hamburger” is motivation (hunger) attached to a specific idea (a hamburger). The motivation comes first, and then it gets attached to an idea.

Instead of saying “boredom”, we could just say “the will”. Human behavior is not purely reactive. We act toward goals. To do that, we must form goals, and then be motivated to attain them. When you aren’t busy solving some immediate problem, your brain will look for problems to solve, and then raise them to consciousness. Then you work on solving them. Some of those problems are questions of what to do. We fantasize to generate goals, then we think about solving them. This offline problem-solving allows for complex behavior.

Your brain always generates a certain level of motivation, which you can experience as anxiety, boredom, curiosity, restlessness, etc. That is unattached desire: the generic urge to do something. It generates day-dreaming, planning, or roaming around, looking for something to do.

I Just Wanna Have Something To Do - Ramones

So, again, my theory explains it. Does yours, whatever it is?

Uh another example would be a joy that you have for meditation so a lot of people when we do a meditation they experience you know pleasant pleasant feelings…not always happen. Sometimes it’s unpleasant as well but in many cases it is it is pleasant for the meditator so the question is exactly again what is the what was the desire that was fulfilled here? It’s extremely unclear. Um why would you know sitting and watching your breath is fulfilling any obvious desire?

The desire that is “satisfied” (in a sense) is that unattached background motivation, aka the will. The pleasure that can occur during meditation is caused by a reduction of the will. Basically, when you clear your mind and focus on your breathing, you are reducing will and expanding awareness. Consciousness consists of will and awareness, and if awareness increases, the will decreases, and you feel pleasure, even though there is no apparent problem being solved. That’s also where purely aesthetic pleasure comes from, such as the pleasure you feel when standing on a mountaintop, gazing at the landscape, or at a concert, immersed in the music. Your awareness expands to let information into consciousness, and the will contracts proportionately. You experience that reduction of the will as pleasure.

The general background level of motivation is also why you can feel pleasure by taking an opiate drug, even if you are not in any pain. You always have some motivation that can be reduced.

In my youth, I spent a lot of time exploring the boundaries of consciousness, and specifically the state of consciousness in which awareness is expanded. These days, I usually have that experience in nature, like when I’m walking on the beach. I call it “the aesthetic mode of consciousness” and contrast it with “the instrumental mode of consciousness”. So, I have thought a lot about this, and of course I can explain it within my theory.

Um another example is when you think about you know things that happened to you before uh and you cringe right you cringe like you did something very very embarrassing a year ago you did some social faux pas and now you’re completely embarrassed about it and when you remember it you feel pain right. So again what is the um what is it what is the desire that is being built here? The desire of you not doing that in the past? But you cannot really ever fulfill this desire right? um so you only have a desire that is unfulfillable in a way and then you feel pain for it again. It just doesn’t feel like it fits well.

First, you have social emotions, which generate feelings like shame, pride, guilt, etc. Shame is the fear of rejection.

Now, why do you remember some bad event from the past, and feel bad about it again?

Another example is feeling sad that someone died. Your sadness can’t bring them back, so what is the motivation?

To understand this, you have to cleanse your thinking of homunculus fallacies. Just because you, the conscious self, know that you can’t solve a problem, that doesn’t mean that each part of your brain knows that.

Again, you have this background level of motivation, and your brain (specifically the attention system) is always looking for something to attach motivation to. Memories with emotional significance are problems. If you are in love, your attention system will constantly raise the idea of that person into consciousness, even if you last thought about her five minutes ago and there’s no point thinking about her again. Your attention system is not a homunculus. It doesn’t know what problems you can solve. It just raises things with emotional significance to consciousness.

That’s why you sometimes obsess about an embarrassing event in the past, and that’s why you will obsess over a lost loved one. The attention system doesn’t know that you can’t solve that problem. It simply recognizes the emotional significance attached to that idea, and raises it to consciousness, for consciousness to deal with.

Just as the attention system is not a homunculus, your emotions are not homunculi. E.g. you will feel ashamed if you embarrass yourself in front of strangers, even if you will never see them again. Your emotions are heuristic problem-recognizers, not omniscient homunculi.

Uh last the fifth one is enjoying video games also. Let’s say you’re playing some you know sim city builder. Unclear like you could say maybe you have the desire of not being bored and then you play video games and then you fulfill the desire of not being bored but it’s true even if you’re not bored like even if you’re doing something else. Let’s say you’re watching tv and you’re enjoying it or not enjoying it so much and then you playing a video game and that’s you know just makes you feel good.

Yeah, essentially it’s boredom. Again, our brains are always looking for problems to solve. We also evolved to play, and to be curious, etc, so we would acquire knowledge for use later.

Also, video games are addictive problem substitutes, although you can learn some things from them.

Uh it doesn’t seem it was like a you know a desire but it was really really fulfilled here unless you look at it in a very very tautological way of like every time that you do something that feels good then it fulfills a desire

Well, yeah, the theory implies that. You feel good when motivation decreases. That’s not a tautology, though. I can explain why motivation increases and decreases.

And then okay sure then it works but I don’t think it’s a good model if you need to kind of force it into it and it doesn’t give you any explanatory power in the case of phantom limb pain it for sure doesn’t give you gives you zero explanatory power. And those are just five examples was easy very easy for me to think about. There are a lot of other examples which you can think about that would also will not fit this framework.

My theory explains every example you brought up.

You didn’t really understand my theory. You had a vague notion of it from a single video that was about something else. You didn’t like the implications of it, and you just knew it had to be wrong, so you didn’t approach it in a charitable way. But it has no problem explaining those things.

And, if you have an alternative theory, then go ahead and try to explain the same things, and we can evaluate your theory by the same criteria, and we’ll see which one has more explanatory power.

I think my theory has a lot of explanatory power. It’s a bit like the theory of evolution: lots of things fall into place once you have the theory. It is counter-intuitive, but it works.

Okay, so the next thing is so what bg goes and says something along the lines of okay because every um pleasure and every pain comes from you know experiencing desire and then kind of solving the desire so you get into a zero sum let’s say hedonic uh state. Okay so you had you had you had the pain of the desire rising up and then you had the pleasure of the desire being solved and together they are at zero. So well first of all even if you accept the desire framework which which i don’t um (if that wasn’t clear) it for me doesn’t it doesn’t mean that the relief is equivalent to the pain, right. It could be but the pain of the desire is way way stronger than the relief itself

Well, there’s no way to measure pain and pleasure directly, because they are qualia. You can observe something that is correlated with those qualia, such as facial expressions. You can also introspectively try to examine your experiences, but they only exist in the moment, so that is limited. The claim that pain and pleasure balance out is phenomenological. It is based on introspection, observation, and theorizing about the nature of the mechanism. It fits my own experiences and what I observe in others (and my own external behavior), but since we can’t directly measure qualia, that’s the limit of what we can do.

I talked about this extensively in Responding to Conundrum.

Okay um and this is basically an empirical question right. You can just kind of look at it empirically and how people behave themselves. How do you feel by yourself when you have a pain and then relief and try to understand if it’s always kind of zero sum so you know the most obvious example where it’s obviously not zero sum and it’s you know undeniable as if you if you have a creature that is being tortured and then killed right because obviously he doesn’t even have the time to to feel the relief before he’s being killed so that obviously in this case it’s uh it’s it’s not happening right like the pain is worse than the pleasure and it does happen to a lot of uh creatures in the wild right uh where you have a lot of animals that don’t even reach maturity so they just kind of like turtles like for sea turtles only one out of 1000 to 10,000 which is uh an adult stage most of them die very very young either by starvation or are they getting predated so sort of they’re pre-predators that are getting them so obviously they just have suffering and they have no relief out of it so that’s it’s not just a theoretical example it’s something that happens in nature all the time

I’ve addressed this example many times before, in many places (videos, comment sections, discord discussions, etc.). It’s the first thing most people think of, when they want to break the theory.

Suppose that someone shoots you in the leg, and then a minute later shoots you in the head, killing you. You have no time to feel any relief from the pain of the leg wound. There is no recovery, no resolution of the problem.

You could say that the moment of death is pleasure, because at that moment the motivation ceases. That’s how I think of it, and then it is strictly zero-sum. Motivation begins at zero, and ends at zero, and all the intervening ups and downs sum to zero.

However, the subject will not truly experience the moment of death. So you could say that the pain is left unresolved, and thus it isn’t strictly zero-sum. I have no problem with that. I’m not concerned about the label “zero-sum”. I’m just concerned about the theory itself and what it implies.

At the point in time when you could (in theory) do the full summation over all of the subject’s experiences, the subject no longer exists. So, if this summation is the net value of the subject’s existence, it only exists, even in theory, when the subject no longer exists. (That’s another odd thing about hedonism: the purpose of life is something that won’t exist until you’re dead.) During the subject’s life, looking back, the net amount is always negative, because there is always some unresolved motivation in the brain.

In an ordinary human life, you will experience an enormous amount of pleasure and an enormous amount of pain. Even if your last moment is spent in agony from a leg wound, if you put the sum of all your life’s pleasures next to the sum of all your life’s pains, one would be a thousand feet high and the other a thousand feet and one inch high — they are essentially equal.

Um so this is like the most obvious counter argument but I don’t feel it’s enough right because it is a it is an edge case.

Um the second one if it would be true if the relief from suffering would be equivalent to the suffering when you experience it then most people will be willing to go through torture for some kind of monetary reward not a large one right like it just should be more than what what we’re earning at work right because the idea is the following: let’s say you are tortured but then after you finish being tortured you have the same equivalent pleasure of being tortured. That means that if someone pays pays you nicely for it then why shouldn’t you do that but I don’t think that’s the case I don’t think anyone would be willing to pass for an hour of torture for you know I don’t know 100 bucks an hour right for this hour no one would be willing to get to be waterboarded for an hour for a hundred dollars. Even though theoretically if the case was but he would feel the the relief with his equivalent to the torture afterwards then he should have agreed to it but that’s not the case because it’s just not true okay. Relief which you’re getting after it is not the same as the pain from the torture.

You are assuming that action is based on maximizing hedonic utility. If that were the case, things would be even weirder. If we act to maximize hedonic utility, and pain and pleasure balance out, then no course of action could ever be selected, except maybe a quick death by opiate overdose. People couldn’t choose to be waterboarded for $100, or not to be waterboarded for $100. The pain and pleasure of both the waterboarding and the $100 would cancel out.

However, I don’t believe that we act to maximize hedonic utility. (That’s what you believe, not me.) Our brains are not calculating the effects of our actions on pain and pleasure, and acting to maximize that sum. We act to reduce motivation. You are instinctively very motivated to avoid torture, so you will avoid torture, and that motivation will outweigh most things.

For example, if you go for a long walk in the winter rain without a jacket, you will get very cold. That will feel bad. If you then come inside and warm up, say with a warm bath, that will feel very good. You can try this experiment yourself, and observe that the two feelings seem about the same, although there is no way to measure them precisely. You learn to negatively value getting cold, and positively value warming up when you are cold. Those are the biologically adaptive values. You should avoid being out in the cold, and if you are cold, you should try to warm up. The fact that increasing motivation (pain) is necessary for decreasing motivation (pleasure) does not cause us to positively value what increases motivation.

That’s also why you can get addicted to heroin, despite the bad feeling of withdrawal. That bad feeling is simply your ordinary level of background motivation returning. The drug reduces motivation, so you experience the return of ordinary levels of motivation as pain, but that doesn’t stop you from getting addicted to the drug, even though it is a predictable effect. Heroin reduces motivation, so your brain interprets it as “good”. The brain (correctly) doesn’t attribute withdrawal to the drug, because the drug isn’t the underlying reason for withdrawal. Again, withdrawal is just the return of ordinary background motivation. Your brain (correctly) generates the background motivation necessary to make you do things, but since you had little motivation before, you experience that as pain.

One of the important lines of evidence for my theory is that you can feel pleasure (immense pleasure) when you are in an objectively bad state, such as hypothermic or very hungry. You feel pleasure from the change in your state, such as warming up or eating something, not from the state itself.

BTW, I once made a video about a torture thought experiment, in which you get tortured for $1000, without being harmed in any way, and then your memories are erased, so from the perspective of your future self, you were never tortured at all. You just walked into a room, sat down, were handed $1000, and then walked out.

Now, let’s consider the same type of argument applied to efilism. You believe that people will act to maximize net hedonic utility. You also believe that life has negative hedonic utility. So, you should expect people to kill themselves en masse. However, we don’t observe that. Why not? Also, most people believe that life is good, not bad. How do you explain that?

Um sometimes you also can have joy without pain right. Sometimes you have just you you go and you you’re not really hungry for example um and then you still you go eat a tasty meal but you’re not hungry before you are enjoying the meal because you know the food is really good uh but you’re not like before that were an hour and like in annoying and really bad hunger and then that kind of made it equal right? So sometimes you can even have joy that is better than the suffering you had before.

No, you really can’t. You can’t enjoy a meal unless you are hungry. If you are a little hungry, but the meal is interesting, then you can enjoy it as an alleviation to boredom, but that’s all.

On the other hand, the most mundane meal is intensely pleasurable if you are really hungry. The best meal of my life was a breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee, after I had been on a two week canoe trip, and had gone a day without food. Nothing could ever beat that.

Um….and now and everything with the zero sum pleasure and pain uh kind of proves because it proves too much that every everyone actually have the same level of hedonistic enjoyment in their life which again to me seem kind of preposterous, right?

Well, that’s just an appeal to incredulity and to intuition. Sure, my theory is counter-intuitive to most people. But then so is efilism.

And if it wasn’t counter-intuitive, then everyone would already believe it. Any new, profound insight about the human condition will be highly counter-intuitive. Otherwise, everyone would already believe it. Being counter-intuitive doesn’t mean it is false. We have blind spots, especially about our own psychology.

The idea of it like a Sudanese child soldier that is being abused has the same level of joy of let’s say a rich American trust fund just doesn’t seem to be the case. There are people who suffer way more than other people in life and if you accept BG’s theory of zero sum that’s not true right and it’s it just doesn’t seem probable.

You are arguing from your own assumption, not from evidence. If you clear your mind of assumptions, and just go look at the Sudanese child soldiers and the American trust-funders, and observe their facial expressions over time, they’ll average out to the same. Both will be smiling some of the time, frowning some of the time, etc. Go look at pictures of starving kids in Africa, with distended bellies. Notice how many of them are smiling?

In one of the videos (I can’t remember which one), I gave the example of a woman who was confined to a wheelchair. Objectively, her life was worse than mine by almost any metric. She would never have sex, never be able to run or swim. Just going to the toilet was a struggle for her. But, if you observed both of us over time, you would see that both of us had our ups and downs.

And this makes sense biologically. What makes an action adaptive is not the absolute state of the organism. It is how the state changes. It is equally adaptive to have sex with a fertile woman, regardless of whether you are an incel or have a harem of 100 women. The action improves your reproductive fitness either way.

Yes, it’s very natural to assume that having more good stuff will make you happier. Almost everyone believes that. I did once too. But then I noticed that it isn’t true.

Um also if it would be true you would expect to see that if you have like torture victims um that had really really bad time in their life you would expect to see in their lives also days which are equivalent in terms of joy so if it would be tortured you would expect to see like i don’t know for a month you would expect to see afterwards a month for they having um let’s see some kind of euphoric ecstasy right you’re gonna compensate for it or a year afterwards but it doesn’t seem to be the case

Are you doing these experiments? Are you actually testing these claims?

I have tested these things, to the extent that I could, and the euphoria is proportional to the misery.

We have examples of this in our daily lives all the time. For example, suppose you get really sick with the flu or a cold. You will feel miserable, of course. But when you can finally get better, you will get joy from ordinary things (like not coughing, having a good night’s sleep, eating a meal, being able to walk outside) that do not ordinarily give you joy. You will experience heightened enjoyment of life for a while, because of the contrast.

For some reason, efilists always use the hypothetical example of extreme torture, which can’t actually be tested, rather than the evidence that is all around us.

Again so for example there’s a story of a man called Dax Cowart which is a it’s a very famous a case in in medical literature it was someone who was in a really bad explosion and he got burns all over his body he lost his eyes um he was in a horrible shape he actually ran away from the explosion he found a farmer and he asked him to to commit suicide to help him kill him because he didn’t want to live like that he already understood that he was in a really bad shape so this farmer didn’t agree he took him to the hospital and miraculously Dax Cowart survived so he but he went through horrible horrible torture uh in his recovering process we forced him uh to go through through recovery for all his burns it was extremely painful it was it took him i think a year just to get out of hospital and he was begging them to kill him the entire time and they just didn’t didn’t agree so after this year you would expect him to have like a year of you know amazing ecstasy of like him waking up and he be happy but he is alive and like i don’t feel like orgasm all the time right which is kind of let’s say the equivalent of horrible torture he passed through but that wasn’t the case afterwards he actually said that even though he survived that and now his life became okayish and even a bit positive it still wasn’t worth it so he thought that um all the game that he got after his life even though he lived to a i think pretty late age he still claimed that like at the point where after he got the burns it probably would be better for him to die than to go for all of it

A single anecdote can be evidence, but only if it is selected to be representative, or is arbitrarily selected, not cherry-picked to support your position. E.g. I didn’t pick the girl in the wheelchair as an example because she happened to support my views. She’s just someone I worked with. And you can go find similar examples and verify that disabled people are just as happy/unhappy as able-bodied people. But there’s no way I can go observe someone like this guy.

I know that there are many cases of people who failed to commit suicide, were rescued with horrible injuries, and were grateful to be rescued afterward.

You assume that this guy was in torture the whole time, but that is based on your assumption that an objectively bad state corresponds to pain. I’m sure the guy had good days and bad days in hospital. He habituated to his circumstances, and had ups and downs based on deviations from his new normal. And, as you admit, he didn’t kill himself afterward.

You believe that life is net negative, and so everyone should want to kill themselves, not just the few people who get into tragic accidents. Why don’t most people kill themselves, if life is net negative?

which again probably wouldn’t be the case if the zero-sun pleasure and pain theory was correct so I just rejected it. It doesn’t seem empirically valid so the zero sum pleasure and pain theory is just incorrect. Uh there is more pain than pleasure in the world um pain is stronger and I stand by Inmendham and in his view that it’s not it’s not equivalent.

Where is your theory that explains the evidence?

Inmendham has no coherent theory. He believes that it’s all pain, and no pleasure, but he also believes that some lives are net positive.

My theory fits all the available evidence. If you claim to have a better theory, you need to present it, and evaluate it by the same standard.

You claim there is more pain than pleasure. But you have given NO argument for that position.

You tried to place a huge burden of proof on me, as if I had to answer to every possible objection and explain every weird behavior any human has ever exhibited. What burden of proof do you place on yourself? Nothing.

Okay the next one is about hedonism so one problem with hedonism is that when you think about hedonism the the word itself is already has a lot of other meaning attached to it. So when you think about hedonism to think about someone who’s like you know doing drugs or just you know having sex all day and just having pleasurable time all the time and he only cares about pleasure only cares about pain.

No, this is bullshit. “Hedonism” is not commonly used in ordinary discourse, so it doesn’t have strong connotations, and it is commonly used in philosophy. I gave a clear definition of it, and it is the appropriate term to use.

but this is a very limited way to look at it because it’s not only about pleasure and pain it’s about suffering against non-suffering okay and

This is ridiculous.

You think “suffering” and “non-suffering” are meaningful terms, and somehow different from “pain” and “pleasure”? What are they?

The word “suffering” is typically used only for extreme and/or prolonged pain, not for something like the hunger you feel before lunch. Admittedly, neither is “pain” typically used for that. But we need words for “feeling good” and “feeling bad”, and “pleasure” and “pain” are typically used in philosophy.

and to understand that pain and suffering are not equivalent and pleasure and let’s call let’s call it anti-suffering when i mean anti-suffering i mean positive valence states are also not equivalent because you have things which are positive valence states which are not joy

Again, this is ridiculous. You introduced a bunch of terms, without definitions, for no reason, and claim that these undefined, non-standard terms are somehow necessary. Give me a break.

so let’s take the the most simple example is obviously you know masochists who enjoy pain so for them even though they experience they experience pain it’s not suffering for them okay

The masochist does not get pleasure from pain, or “anti-suffering” from pain. The masochist is not someone who just bangs their hand with a hammer all day, or always jumps down the stairs head-first instead of walking down them. The masochist gets heightened sexual arousal from certain types of situations that involve physical pain or abuse of some kind, and then gets a heightened sexual release.

People can experience pleasure of one type while experiencing pain of another type. For example, you might go out in the cold to get food if you are hungry. The motivation to eat is stronger than the motivation to stay warm. This does not require new terminology.

Another example is sadness right sadness is negative emotion but it’s also doesn’t entail suffering sometimes you can go to a movie and watch it and you enjoy the fact that you’re sad um

It’s a bit like masochism: the bigger the arousal, the bigger the catharsis. People can enjoy vicariously experiencing things on a movie screen, even though the experience involves a bit of pain. The sadness in a movie isn’t pleasant in itself, but it is part of a whole experience. People can go on roller-coasters, even though they experience fear, because it relieves boredom. There are lots of things like that.

And of course sadness is suffering. If your mother dies, you suffer. You wouldn’t kill your mother to experience sadness.

You are just appealing to complexity. You are not proposing a theory that explains crying in theaters (and all the other evidence) better than what I propose. You are just saying “Well, people cry in theaters, so obviously BG is wrong or something, but six new undefined terms will somehow explain everything”.

Human beings are complex. We do all kinds of weird things, like go on roller-coasters and cry at movies. We have complex emotions and complex behavior. But that isn’t a stick you can use to bash any theory of human behavior. It’s like saying that Newton’s theory of gravitation must be wrong because clouds don’t fall out of the sky. A bad faith critic of Newton could just keep demanding that he explain anomaly after anomaly: the moon, birds, clouds, steam rising, trees growing, etc, etc. Newton doesn’t have to explicitly explain everything in his theory. You have to apply the theory to specific things.

so it’s not about it um and in terms of in terms of joy you have other positive valance states which are not joy for example doing something that feels meaningful right so for example let’s say you’re a soldier at the war and you’re having a really bad times in terms of you know hedonistic state right it’s really bad you’re in the mud um but you still feel very strong inner conviction and you feel like you’re doing something meaningful by defending your state uh it’s not joy it’s not pleasure but it’s something else but it’s still positive okay so

Well, the soldier might be motivated to serve his country, because he was taught to value it, and he expects rewards and approval for his service. So, he is motivated to serve his country, and he will feel pleasure if they does something instrumental to that goal.

Given enough time in the mud, though, he’ll lose that motivation.

Again, we have goal-directed behavior, which requires being motivated toward abstract ideas (goals are abstract ideas). So, if you’re motivated toward an abstract idea, like serving your country, or winning the war, you feel good if you seem to be progressing toward that goal, because your brain generates motivation to work toward that goal.

Why does it feel good to score a goal in soccer, or capture a piece in a chess game? Because the will is attached to the idea of winning the game. Anything instrumental to that goal will feel good. Your brain is constantly generating motivation, and you are constantly acting on it and reducing it.

So when I’m talking about suffering I mean I mean it in a way of like when you’re experiencing something that is worse than nothing meaning you were ever to be asleep or dead than experiencing it. If I would if I would ask you hey I can add another year to your life but in this entire year you’re going to be completely tortured then most people would probably say no I don’t want to have this year i would rather be dead.

Always with the torture, rather than something we can actually experience and experiment with.

Anyway, I don’t know what you’re talking about here. Replacing the word “pain” with “suffering” doesn’t do anything here.

And you believe that life is net suffering, yet you choose to live.

But I have no idea what you’re trying to say at this point.

so this is the more correct framework to look at it okay just hedonism is misses the point here if you want to really calculate it you should calculate it by suffering versus you know anti-suffering or versus positive valence states again there’s just not a good word for it in English at least not one that I know which just kind of aggregates all the positive states of consciousness um but but that’s the idea and it’s very very different than looking at it in a very narrow and hedonistic way

This is just asinine. You have not explained what distinction you are trying to convey with these terms.

The words “pain” and “pleasure” are perfectly fine, as long as we understand how we are using them. Likewise for “hedonism” and “hedonic utility”. They create no confusion. You are trying to cloud the issues, rather than clarify them.

Okay so what I propose is again as I said is looking at in a way of like do I want more of it or do I not want more of it so if you’re having some kind of experience do I want to experience more of this type of experience or not um and the idea is it’s pretty tautological right so it’s good to experience stuff that you want more of and it’s not good to experience stuff that you want less of

What are you proposing?? That we define “suffering” and “anti-suffering” as “experience you don’t want” and “experience you want”? That doesn’t work, because pleasure and pain are qualities of experience, not things that we want. It also seems to be a vacuous circle, since you believe in hedonic utility maximization (we want what maximizes hedonic utility). But it just seems totally confused.

People don’t go around thinking about what they want to experience. Most of the time, they go around thinking about what they want: to fuck that girl, to have a sandwich, to go to sleep, to go to that concert, to make a million bucks, etc. You don’t think to yourself “I’d like to fuck that girl so I could experience sexual anti-suffering”. You just think “I’d like to fuck that girl”.

uh and my claim is this is basically how all humans operate humans operate based on the sensation based on getting good sensations or good conscious states and running away from negative negative conscious states

Your theory, if you could state it clearly, is that we act to maximize hedonic utility: that we are motivated to increase pleasure and decrease pain.

That theory is based on a homunculus fallacy.

You think of pain and pleasure as reward and punishment, and motivation as avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure. Avoidance and pursuit are motivated behaviors, so you can’t explain motivation in terms of avoidance and pursuit. That is conceptual question-begging. It is a misleading metaphor. There is no homunculus within the brain that pursues pleasure and avoids pain. If there were, then you’d have an infinite regress of explanation. You’d have to explain what motivates the homunculus. Why does it pursue pleasure and avoid pain? What makes pleasure “good” to the homunculus and pain “bad” to the homunculus?

Pleasure and pain are not internal reward and punishment. That’s a fallacious metaphor. They are the experience of changing motivational states. Motivation drives behavior. We are not motivated to pursue pleasure and avoid pain. We are motivated to act in the world.

And again, if we were hedonic utility maximizers, and life is hedonically net negative, then we’d all be killing ourselves, right? How does your theory explain why people don’t normally kill themselves?

And all values are in a way again for for each individual are driven from it directly because we are all programmed to have some things um create positive states in us and other things create negative states in us. So just to give you an example of why I believe this is the case and why everything else kind of doesn’t matter I’ll give you a let’s say a thoughts or a thought experiment. So BG says in the end of this video that he really uh appreciates uh life

I didn’t say that I really uh appreciate uh life. I said that I affirm life, and that my core value is reproduction.

…and that he sees himself as a reproduction machine and for him reproduction has value right which is kind of until which is not necessarily by what he says related to you know sensational to uh views it’s more kind of an aesthetical philosophical view about life

I am a reproducing machine, and so are you.

I take reproduction to be my core value. You could say that I choose it. Or you could say that I affirm it. In other words, I adopt my objective purpose as my subjective purpose.

That’s why I have 5 kids with my wife, and had others by sperm donation.

Um so let’s imagine that someone like an evil surgeon from the future uh would come and he would rewire BG’s brain in a way that every time he thinks about reproduction about having sex or about raising kids he’s gonna have feeling of extreme disgust nausea and pain like just thinking about kids about having kids would trigger with him those sensations and let’s say it would be done by some kind of you know technological solution right like kind of a clockwork orange style of uh you know maybe a bit more sophisticated uh let’s say surgery plus um kind of suggestibility brainwashing whatever it doesn’t really matter right you understand the idea of all right you can do something like that you can rewire person to to hate things to find something pleasurable and to find some things not pleasurable so what

It doesn’t have to so elaborate. Suppose I was homosexual. That would make it harder for me to pursue reproduction, because my intuitive values would be less aligned with my philosophical core value. I would want to fuck guys instead of girls.

Luckily, I want to fuck girls. But of course my intuitive values are not perfectly aligned with my philosophical value of reproduction. I never claimed to be some kind of philosophical robot, whose actions are 100% generated by calculating reproductive utility.

For example, I could ditch my wife and kids, and try to impregnate other women. But that would really go against my instincts.

I talked about this in Cupcakes, Nails and Mouse Brains. Having a philosophical theory of value doesn’t rewire your brain. It can affect your life (it has affected mine) but it doesn’t determine your actions 100%. That doesn’t mean that you don’t believe it, or that your belief is insincere. It means that you are a human being.

My actions are driven by motivation, like everyone else’s. Unlike other people, however, my will is sometimes attached to the idea of reproduction. It was when I impregnated my wife, and when I signed up to be a sperm donor. Because my will was attached to that idea, I was motivated to do those things, instead of playing a video game.

I would claim that in this situation and this is obviously not a provable claim but i would claim that in this situation BG would not want to reproduce he would prioritize his sanity and him feeling okay over over reproduction because it would be just too hard to to do it despite the fact that he feels pain and just disgust and nausea every time he just thinks about that not mentioning doing it itself

You really love these hypothetical thought experiments that you treat as evidence, rather than looking at real evidence.

But yes, I agree that you can create incentives strong enough to override a philosophical value. Like, if you gave me an electric shock every time I fucked a girl, eventually I would have a strong aversion to pussy.

But again, this is irrelevant. I never claimed that I am not driven by my emotions. Of course I am. That’s an implication of my theory. Motivation is motivation. All motivation comes from emotions, ultimately. However, I have explained how it is attached to ideas, and that enables goal-directed behavior. Thus, philosophical values can have an effect on your life. And that’s why I have lots of kids, in a society were the TFR is 1.5.

So what actually BG is optimizing for he says that he’s optimizing for being a good reproduction machine but he’s he’s still optimizing for his own sensations which in his specific case um kind of driven towards being a reproduction machine and in most people case the this is the way it is um but it’s still important to understand that um

No, I’m not optimizing for hedonic utility, and neither are you.

The brain evolved to optimize reproductive utility, but it depends on the emotions, which are heuristics, to generate motivations.

My philosophical theory of value shifts my behavior in the direction of optimizing reproductive utility, but doesn’t perfectly align it.

There’s really nothing that we’re optimizing for psychologically. Action isn’t driven by an optimization process. It is driven by motivation.

What the conscious mind is is optimizing for is not for the terminal goals but for the sensations themselves meaning sensations are stronger than those you know terminal values intellectual values of how you see the world or anything like that

The conscious mind is not optimizing for anything. Not every process is an optimization process. The conscious mind is directly driven by motivation. Preconscious processes simply do what they do. They are not homunculi that have their own motivations and require rewards and punishments.

If philosophical values are irrelevant, does that negate efilism? Is efilism irrelevant, because it conflicts with natural instincts and intuitions?

And again, why isn’t everyone killing themselves? According to your theory, that would optimize hedonic utility, and we are supposedly optimizing hedonic utility. Yet, most people aren’t committing suicide.

So so basically yeah so it’s all about sensations but it’s not just hedonism it’s a more wide view of sensation of positive and negative sensations

“a more wide view” lol

What a clear, well-defined theory.

I’m just going to ignore your undefined terms unless you can define them and explain why “pain”, “pleasure” and “hedonism” are inadequate.

Notice that you have not made any philosophical argument for hedonism, or whatever you want to call it. You have introduced other terms that simply cloud the issues. You have claimed that we are maximizing for hedonic utility. That isn’t an argument for adopting hedonism as a normative theory of value. Or if you think it is, then it is the naturalistic fallacy.

You have not argued that we must philosophically value pain and pleasure.

Do you concede that point? Do you admit that we are rationally free to value something else, philosophically?

Okay the next one is altruism and selfishness so what BG says about that is something along the line of you know no one is really altruist morality is fake slash delusion uh we’re like most people are selfish and those who are not selfish are basically just want to feel good again we’re optimizing for our own sensations.

You are mixing up my views with your views. Remember, I don’t think people “want to feel good” or are “optimizing for sensations”.

You believe that we are hedonic utility maximizers. That means we always act to increase pleasure and decrease pain. You also seem to believe that pain and pleasure are value — that this is value by definition. If so, then everyone is 100% selfish with regard to your notion of value.

But now you’re going to argue that people are altruistic, and you’re not even going to notice the blatant contradiction in your own beliefs.

I presented my views about selfishness and altruism in the blog post Altruism and Selfishness, which was linked in the Efilism video description. There are different types of altruism and selfishness, depending on a standard of value: emotional, energetic or reproductive.

Evolution creates reproductively selfish beings. The human form was selected to be reproductively selfish. That includes the brain and the emotions. That doesn’t mean that people can’t be altruistic in certain ways. Morality is a deception. Empathy is possible, but it comes in two types: positive and negative. We can care about others, and we can also hate others. Both have selfish reproductive functions. We evolved to cooperate with others, form pair-bonds, raise children, and compete with others. We have emotions that drive all of those behaviors.

but it’s just the case that in in their situation when they send something positive when they help others right like we have some kind of maybe an and release of hormones or like positive since if it makes some positive sensations when they you know feed a cat or help someone else but they still do it to feel you know the good feelings and you know what i completely agree about that I completely agree with him.

Well, but that’s not what I would say. We don’t do it to feel good. We can be motivated to help others, and then it will feel good because the motivation is satisfied. If you’re motivated to feed a stray cat, you don’t think “oh boy if I feed this cat I will feel good”. You just want to feed the cat. We have emotions that can motivate kindness and cruelty.

But this is actually what happens right. Most people are extremely selfish and altruism is quite rare right. A lot of people are you know maybe can be altruistic towards your friends or towards her family but like just general global altruism is not uh not a generally very common human trait meaning most people are selfishly optimizing for their own benefit

It is important to define benefit. Psychologically, everyone is 100% selfish, in the sense that they always do what they want to do. People are energetically altruistic toward their children, but that is reproductively selfish.

Also, don’t confuse cooperation with altruism. Cooperation is selfish, because both sides benefit.

Generally speaking, people are energetically selfish, except toward children (and, to a lesser extent, toward other close family members). Other relationships are cooperative or competitive. Positive empathy can be associated with caring relationships and cooperative relationships.

Okay again I agree with those two assertions I guess if he believes in them right I don’t think he actually mentioned them as I as I put them here but I feel like this is kind of uh what he I guess points to okay so again I agree

Well, it’s not a great paraphrase. It leaves out the most important stuff. Like that evolution creates selfish reproducers, not altruists.

but very few other points that I want to mention about this so first of all there is a variance between different people in terms of selfishness versus altruism so it’s not it’s true that most people are very very selfish but there’s still levels to it right so you can think of from one from one side uh someone who’s generally just really nice person who helps helps people around them willing to sacrifice some of his own resources to help other people there are people like that right not many of them

The human form was not selected to be partly selfish and partly altruistic. It was selected to be 100% reproductively selfish.

However, human behavior is not perfectly reproductively selfish, for various reasons. It is driven by heuristic emotions, including social emotions, that can generate many different behaviors in different situations. And, because emotion is a complex mechanism, there are many ways for it to go wrong, such as homosexuality, or cat ladies who never have kids. The modern environment is very different from the ancestral environment, and modern human behavior is often maladaptive.

I think you are conflating cooperation and altruism. Being nice is usually cooperation. A friendly person is open to forming cooperative relationships. That doesn’t mean he expects nothing in return. Our emotions are pretty good at generating the right level and type of empathy, depending on the relationship. You feel more empathetic toward someone who reciprocates.

But some some are just like that um obviously we’re still going to be selfish in a way right we still need to kind of make sure that we are living and they’re not being killed or exploited or we’re not just going to give all of our money to someone who is less fortunate right because they’re just going to be very very poor and miserable if you’re going to do that so they’re still going to be somewhat selfish okay but for gonna be also somewhat altruistic

There is very little of what you could honestly call “altruism” in human behavior. Like someone who anonymously gives to other people with no expectation of reward.

And again, by your own theory, everyone is 100% selfish. YOUR theory implies that. So any apparently altruistic behavior must be hedonically selfish.

Versus let’s say on the other end you have like the sadistic sociopath right. It’s like someone who’s not only selfish he’s getting a kink from like hurting other people. Okay so it makes it makes him good when he see others suffer around him right.

Sadism and psychopathy aren’t selfishness. If sadism means harming others for no benefit to yourself, then it is the reverse of altruism. Both altruism and sadism are maladaptive. However, harming others can be adaptive, because we compete. Killing your enemies is beneficial to you. So, the urge to harm others can be adaptive if it is linked to competition, but that’s not what we usually think of as “sadism”.

Keep in mind that murder and rape were common and accepted behavior in primitive societies, when directed against outsiders. Our modern pathologizing of hate and aggression is self-deception. Everyone has the capacity to enjoy harming others, not just the sadist or psychopath. We all have the capacity for hate. Some people have a stronger or weirder version of it — a true disorder.

In the modern environment, people often behave in maladaptive ways, like hating a stranger that you perceive as an enemy or threat, but whom you will never see again. To understand human behavior, you have to understand that we are adapted to the ancestral social environment, not the modern one.

Um so it’s important to capture that for different people life could look differently right because you have different values and i feel like like altruism is not completely fake so and all of us there is some level of altruism right because of the fact that we need to build coalitions and work with other people around us in our tribe in terms of evolutionary speaking so we most people have some kind of altruism in them

Building coalitions and working with other people is cooperation, not altruism. It is selfish. And of course we evolved to cooperate. But that does not mean we evolved to be altruistic.

And we cooperate to compete. Societies fight wars with other societies. A group of men will cooperate to raid an enemy tribe, kill men and children, and rape women. A group of men will cooperate to kill an elephant or lion. Cooperation takes place within a larger context of competition, because life is competitive.

Again it’s not super super strong um but it’s also not correct to assume that like we’re all completely completely selfish and we’re like no altruism is completely fake it doesn’t exist at all okay so that’s one it does exist most people are somewhat altruistic i would say most people are at least not sadistic okay

Of course most people are not sadistic, because sadism is not selfishness. However, if we imagine a sliding scale from sadism or malice to altruism, with selfishness in the middle, then I think the average is slightly shifted from selfishness toward malice. There is a lot of pointless cruelty out there.

Anyway, you have basically conceded that people are selfish, although you want to leave some room for altruism. You have not made any argument that morality or altruism are rational: that we are logically or rationally compelled to value the interests or feelings of others.

so we come to the so the point of it is the following the point of it is it’s true that I cannot argue with sadistic sociopath who could look at life and say okay I really love the fact that there’s like a lot of carnage and you know life is all about animals eating each other and humans eating animals and humans manipulating each other and torture and all this you know insanity that goes around on earth but I like it you know I’m I enjoy seeing people suffer um and you know it’s the fact that i enjoy it is not it’s not less correct than than of you disliking it right it’s just a matter of different preferences and i would have to say to this so this you know sociopath yeah you’re right um it’s true we have different preferences you know I think you’re you’re a monster right uh you’re my enemy just by being the way you are

So, you’re conceding the point, while trying to claim the moral high ground. Which is ironic, because you’re conceding that there is no moral high ground, just different preferences.

The imaginary person (me?) that you’re calling a sociopath and a monster is just someone with slightly different wiring in his brain, so he wants different things. In your theory, he is maximizing hedonic utility, and so are you, but he can selfishly pursue hedonic utility by throwing puppies into the woodchipper, while you (holy sainted you) selfishly pursue your hedonic utility by feeding stray cats and hugging strangers. And you are tortured by the horror of the world, and the reality of nature, while the monster finds it enjoyable.

So why are you still alive?

You are a hedonic utility maximizer, right?

And this world tortures you, because you have this pathological abundance of positive empathy, right?

And yet you continue to live.

Another strange thing is that you view the sadist as a monster and your enemy. So I guess you hate him — meaning you have negative empathy toward him. You want to see the monster hurt, right?

And isn’t the world full of such monsters, that you can feel good about hurting?

So aren’t you a monster?

You admit that there is no objective value, that morality is bullshit, and that altruism, to the extent it exists, is just a different preference.

But you still want to be the good guy in the story, and have an evil guy to hate.

Um and I think most people are not like that. I think most people in terms of let’s say coalition building or if you’re looking at it as a consensus most people are not sadistic sociopaths we do want other people around them to be happy in general as long as they are happy. Okay I think that’s that’s a more accurate representation of the nature of humans.

Hmmm. I’ve noticed that a lot of humans pretend that there is a moral distinction between themselves and others, so they can justify their hatred and sadism.

And, again, you’re conflating cooperation and altruism. Coalition building doesn’t require wanting others to be happy. It requires finding a plan you an agree on. And what do coalitions do? Fight other coalitions.

Um another thing this is also worthwhile mentioning is even if you’re completely selfish right uh unless you’re maybe sadistic you can still accept that the game is bad right you can still accept that efilism is correct

But efilism is not correct. You’ve already negated efilism yourself. You admit that there is no rational reason why we should value the feelings of others, or negatively value life.

You say “accept that the game is bad”. What does that mean? Bad in what sense? To whom?

According to your theory, it is bad to you if your life has negative hedonic utility, and good to you if your life has positive hedonic utility. You could believe that life is bad for most organisms, but there is no objective bad.

Did I miss something? Did I miss where you presented a theory of objective value, that would allow you to make the judgment “life is bad”?

You made no argument for why I should accept hedonism.

You made no argument for why I should accept altruism.

You claimed that life is net negative, but made no argument for that claim.

You need to go back to the drawing board.

and you can say okay that’s right it’s like okay life is bad most most other consciousness are suffering but you know I’m enjoying it like my life is good um i i enjoy the experience of having here but yeah but it’s still it’s still it’s still true that life is mostly hellish right so it doesn’t have to kind of contradict one each other right you can still be completely selfish you can still reject altruism uh while saying that in the general sense most creatures in this world are suffering and that’s bad

Lol, no you can’t. You can’t say “it’s bad” from an objective perspective.

There is no “bad” from an objective perspective.

You could say “I think life is bad for most creatures”, but that doesn’t make it objectively bad, and that doesn’t make it bad from your perspective.

right not bad enough for you to do anything about it but it’s still bad and it still makes the world a pretty horrible place okay

Wow, what a brave position! The world is horrible, but not horrible enough to do anything about.

According to your own beliefs, applied logically, all that matters to you is your own feelz. So the world is only horrible if your feelz are net negative.

and again another kind of thought experiment that if you can think about it as kind of a reverse Omelas. So in Omelas, which again i would assume most of the people who’s gonna watch this video already kind of know about, the idea is you have this amazing amazing city glorious utopia that is built on the pain and suffering of one single child, right and the fact that he’s suffering and in pain that’s what allows this city to exist. It’s a story by uh Ursula K Le Guin, and you can think about a reverse Omelas, so basically you have only one person who is happy and billions of people who are suffering right or who are being tortured for this one person to be happy and then the question is is this world bad?

Where is the value standard by which we judge the world?

Suppose you say “We should judge the world by the net hedonic utility of all sentient beings!”.

I ask “Why?”.

What is your answer?

Now for BG if he’s the person who’s not suffering um then it’s okay

No, that’s a lie. I don’t care if I’m suffering or not. It’s okay either way. What matters is whether I reproduce. And of course I don’t believe it is possible, in a very fundamental way, to have net negative hedonic utility in the long run. I think pain and pleasure balance out, so this hedonic dystopia can’t exist. (Setting aside how we do the accounting at the end of life.)

I considered the possibility of a hedonic utopia in Cupcakes, Nails and Mouse Brains. I said if you are a hedonic utilitarian, and it is psychologically possible for one being to have net positive hedonic utility (be happy), then it should be possible to create a hedonic utopia. (Mine had mouse brains in jars.) It’s much better than the Omelas thought experiment.

He rejects altruism he says you know it doesn’t matter that other people are suffering and you know for me this kind of world is fine like if I would exist in it it should be okay right like it that’s that’s at least how I understand his view

Wow, you put so much effort into understanding my views!!

I don’t value pain or pleasure, mine or anyone else’s. At least not philosophically. I have empathy, like all normal people, but I don’t pretend that makes me altruistic. I am capable of love and hate, like all normal people. I don’t believe that the world is full of suffering or full of happiness. Yes, I reject altruism. No, I’m not a sadist or a psychopath.

I am a reproducing machine, and I value reproduction.

and you know just from my point of view from my set of preferences which again is not the real truth or anything like that but I would assume that most people are not most but a lot of people are close to me that seems like a monstrous setup i would not want to exist in this kind of world if i would have the option to live in a reverse Omelas versus not living at all I would again again for me as i am right now right I would choose not to live I would choose to forego the opportunity of being happy in the world where everyone else is being tortured

Well, but that’s logically impossible, if you are (as you claim) a hedonic utility maximizer. See, if that world makes you happy, then you’d be forced to go on living, to maximize your hedonic utility.

So, you’re very confused.

uh over over being exist in this kind of world just because I don’t think I would ever be able to be you know happy or live well knowing that you know other people are being tortured

But that directly contradicts the premise of the thought experiment, which is that you are happy in this world. Their suffering makes you happy, somehow. That’s the “price” of your happiness. But you are happy.

and you know my moral view is again my preferences means that this is negative and I wouldn’t want to live in a world like this and again from my point of view anyone else who is willing to live in the world like this is a monster um and and and it’s evil but again this is subjective right like someone else could say that I’m evil or whatever

So good and evil are just subjective preferences. Cool. So there’s nothing objectively wrong with the world. From your perspective in this world, you claim to not like it. But in the thought experiment you would love it, because the premise of the experiment is that you’re the one happy camper in Salemo.

So, based on what you have said, you would have to agree that efilism is just some weird preference, like masochism or sadism or wanting to stick a banana up your ass. Right?

It has no rational justification. Right?

✦ ✦ ✦

The rest is just a summary, so I’ll skip it.

Fug that was long.


  1. Long read but worth it for the hypothetical about Newton's bad faith critics. Haven't heard that one before.


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