X-Message-Number: 3789
Date: Fri, 3 Feb 1995 15:06:10 -0500
Subject: SCI.CRYONICS values

Thanks to Robin Andrus (#3786) for his kind words, and I am happy to be able
to say unequivocally that his remarks on "ought" and "feel-good" are
precisely on target--or at least extremely close to the bull's eye.

The only thing in his comments that might be slightly misleading is the
suggestion (which I thought I discerned, or at least which some might
conclude) that we can reach our goals by introspection. 

Introspection can help a great deal, if accompanied by careful and honest
thought, and makes a good starting point; but we also need objective,
research-based help in deciding how to interpret our intuitions and
inclinations. In part, this is what my book YOUNIVERSE is about.

For example, we need to understand why "cerebral" values can so easily take
precedence over "elemental" values. How do the self circuit and its
connections decide that it is better to keep on working on an interesting
problem than to stop for lunch? In what way and under what circumstances does
it "feel good" to respond according to habit rather than according to obvious
needs that conflict with habit? Why does it sometimes  "feel better" (in some
sense) to watch a stock ticker than to engage in sex? Why would a man rather
die than be thought a coward? In short, how many BASIC kinds of feel-good are
there, and what is their relation to the many derivative kinds? How do we
remain faithful to long-term feel-good and avoid the traps of habit and
brainwash? Hiow do we reconcile the various kinds of feel-good and
feel-bad?....Such questions are exceedingly difficult, but have the utmost
practical importance.

Thomas Donaldson thinks we can start with some "central values which are
accepted as given"--suggesting self-preservation as one. But it seems clear
to me that we CANNOT properly accept ANY value as "given" on an intuitive
basis; the fallibility of intuition (and the differences in intuition among
individuals) is the whole point. 

The closest thing we have to an incontestable basic value is feel-good, a
state (or states) of satisfaction of the self circuit.  With a great deal of
work, and to the satisfaction of at least a few, I think I (with others) can
finish developing this into a full-fledged practical philosophy, and the
first ever such worthy of the name.

R.C.W. Ettinger

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