Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reward-Seeking vs Goal-Seeking

There's a fairly interesting post about the limitations of reward seeking. Unfortunately, it's somewhat lacking in insight. I mean, yes reward seeking is limited, so what? It's not like this is a novel observation to anyone who's encountered utilitarians, hedonists and other egotistical numbnut fucks. Limited, problematic, sterile, dead, take your pick of adjective.

What is the real difference between reward-seeking and goal-seeking in the minds of the people who believe in them? Given the copious and total disproofs of utilitarianism, egotism and behaviourism, given how completely discredited these pathetic attempts at philosophy are, why is it that numbnut fucks that believe in reward-seeking exist at all?

The key insight here is that they are mindless. Reward-seeking is a mindless behaviour which any trivial automaton is able to produce. Slugs can do it. Amoeba can do it. It doesn't take a mind to engage in reward-seeking. It doesn't even take a single neuron! All it takes is a mindless obsession towards some kind of easily-perceived and discernible external condition.

The other insight is that reward-seeking is entirely egotistical. The only thing that ultimately matters to the reward-seeker is themselves. Their own reward. Despite the pretense and pathetic protestations otherwise, utilitarianism is an ideology of egotistical wankers trying to aggrandize themselves by justifying their atavistic greed.

To see this, just consider whether a utilitarian would ever push a button that kills themselves in order for someone ELSE to experience an eternal orgasm. Utilitarians somehow never consider that it would provide me with immense pleasure for the rest of my natural life if they all suicided. A philosophy doesn't get any more dead than by prescribing the deaths of its practitioners.

So yeah, these are mindless people. Lying and hypocritical but mindless. So it comes as no surprise that they would try to aggrandize themselves (which gets them a mindless reward) by assuming that everyone else is just as mindless as themselves. That's the reason why it's so difficult to convince utilitarians of the sterility of their ideology, despite the easy disproofs. Because they have no first-hand experience of having a mind, they don't believe that minds exist. Especially when it would make them inferior.

To have a mind means to value concepts above sensations, above mere experiences. And the fundamental concepts which are valued above all others can be fairly esoteric. For instance, I value fractals. I have an affinity towards fractals of all kinds, whether it's complex music with high dynamic range, or trees, or the Haussman city districts in Paris. Even my disgust for uniformity, hierarchy, orthodoxy, linearity, and conformity of all kinds is just an expression of my affinity towards fractals. Same goes for my disgust for the dehumanizing concept of reward-seeking.

A reward-seeking idiot would claim that fractals are my reward, but that's not even remotely true. I want fractals to exist whether or not I ever experience them. Whether or not I ever could experience them. Just knowing they exist pleases me. Just knowing that uniformity exists displeases me. Just knowing that conformity (sub-optimal uniformity) exists disgusts me.

(And let's not go into the ridiculous conceit of reward-seekers that 'pleases' as uttered by a goal-seeker has any relation to mindless pleasure. Enjoying a concept isn't the same thing as enjoying a sensation. And appreciation (a kind of highly abstracted pleasure) isn't the same thing as enjoyment anyways.)

To get back to the point, I don't need to experience something to care about it nor do I need to be someone else to care about them. That's the mark of an intellectual by the way, that they can mentally place themselves in environments and situations far removed from their daily life. Whether those environments are the other side of the world, in a different galaxy, a different person of a different race or even an entirely different kind of being. Even impossible situations such as back in time can be and are imagined and thus matter.

That's what having a mind means, that you care about having a mind. That you would never willingly sacrifice it to become some kind of mindless animal experiencing forever the Ultimate Orgasm . It may seem that there's a difference between having a mind and wanting a mind, but one day soon, our technology will allow reward-seekers to become the mindless animals they desperately want to be. So the difference between wanting a mind and having one will soon disappear.

As a practical matter, I've found that people capable of abstractions care about them. I have yet to meet someone capable of abstract thought who was dissatisfied with their possessing their cognitive faculties. Dissatisfaction with and devaluation of abstract thought is the province of those who are incapable of it.

No comments: