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What is suffering?

The Grey Man

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#1
Is it just resistance to a system reaching equilibrium? Or is our suffering somehow more real than that of comparatively uncomplicated "disturbed systems", like the pendulum that must swing back and forth while "wanting" (i.e. tending, in the absence of interference) to come to rest? Why do people tend to postulate phenomenological "inner worlds" corresponding to their past and future selves (upon which those phenomenological inner worlds are dependent), as suggested by what we call memories and other subjective phenomena, and to those of other people, but not other systems? Are these the last gasps of dualism and a futile attempt to centralize utility in the human (and maybe animal) sphere thus enabling a sort of comforting presumption of group-level self-importance in ethical reasoning, or is there something more to them?
 

Animekitty

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#2
It don't feel good.
So the opposite is good.
Alleviation takes the pressure off.
Any blockages is the building of intensity.
What you experience is generalized to others.
And relief must have outlets.
We know that a block is a problem.
 

Pizzabeak

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#3
Suffering is the point of all existence. It's what we're on Earth for, we chose this. But it helps with seeing what might be wrong in life for a chance to change it. So in that sense it could also be positive. You have to draw the line somewhere and appreciate what you have.
 

kantor1003

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#5
OP:
I'm not sure, but I think functionalists like to explain suffering by identifying it with pain and say that it's some kind of detector that makes us avoid the things that hurt us. If suffering is something like that, then it seems like we have to say that any intelligent system with a similar sort of mechanism would have the capacity to suffer. But imagine a vacuum cleaner robot equipped with a heat-cencor receiving the signal 'turn 5 feet back' once it registers a certain temperature. I know it's a simple case, but would you say that the vacuum cleaner experienced pain when it turned 5 feet back? Why, or why not?
So the answers to your first two questions I think depends on your notion of pain. If you deny that it's anything other than physical/functional processes that's involved, as we all seem to do these days, then you would be hard pressed to show that pain in some system differ from another in terms of 'realness'. (I don't think you could that in any case, actually, for what would make some pain, once recognised as such, more real than another? Certainly not how much it hurts?) And given this, there definitely seems to be some bias in that there is still some resistance in acknowledging other systems (ie. robots) as potentially as real as us.

At the same time I'm getting tired of the trend towards (can I say this?) belittling human beings by constantly reducing our behaviour, feelings and thoughts to biology/neurophysiology. For example, the idea that art is a strategy for reproduction, or talking about happiness as the release of serotonin etc. I'm sceptical that this is the most instructive/beneficial mode to understand and relate to happiness, art, or pain in our own lives. Telling ourselves stories about our moments of happiness, or why and how we choose to do art, I think, often gets us closer to what happiness and art means, and subsequently, in a way, to what it is. I guess my criticism of reductionism would be it's narrow way (only looking at the efficient cause) to go about explaining/understanding pain, and it's dismissive attitude towards other ways of explaining/understanding pain.

For say, left out of this picture, and one very good reason why at least I would hesitate to compare our pain with the pain of a robot, is all that is bound up with our pain. It's something we all share in, and know that we all share in. In other words, we have feelings and thoughts about it which sometimes leads to a piece of writing or music or whatever else. It leads us to do all kinds of strange things, like Dostoevsky can write about this russian woman that fell in love with someone that she could have married anytime she pleased, only that she constantly invented reasons for herself for why she couldn't and, owing to a particularly picturesque landscape that day, ended her life throwing herself into a river reenacting Shakespeare's Ophelia. No biologist or neuroscientist, not now, perhaps not ever, could shed any meaningful light on such a case, and neither on what it truly feels like to be in pain. For such cases we need other modes and I don't want to see them marginalised by reductionism, or by some idealistic scientist who finally believes to have shed his last piece of humanity in pursuit of some specific kind of knowledge. Pain, and I would really like to call it suffering now, is so bound up with all that we are that to isolate it and speak of pain in the reductionistic mode is to miss most of what is interesting and meaningful about it.


Oh, and I'm not sure if I can agree to your other question, because I don't think it's the case that "phenomenological 'inner worlds'" are postulated at all, except perhaps in the past tense.
 

The Grey Man

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#6
OP:
I'm not sure, but I think functionalists like to explain suffering by identifying it with pain and say that it's some kind of detector that makes us avoid the things that hurt us. If suffering is something like that, then it seems like we have to say that any intelligent system with a similar sort of mechanism would have the capacity to suffer. But imagine a vacuum cleaner robot equipped with a heat-cencor receiving the signal 'turn 5 feet back' once it registers a certain temperature. I know it's a simple case, but would you say that the vacuum cleaner experienced pain when it turned 5 feet back? Why, or why not?
So the answers to your first two questions I think depends on your notion of pain. If you deny that it's anything other than physical/functional processes that's involved, as we all seem to do these days, then you would be hard pressed to show that pain in some system differ from another in terms of 'realness'. (I don't think you could that in any case, actually, for what would make some pain, once recognised as such, more real than another? Certainly not how much it hurts?) And given this, there definitely seems to be some bias in that there is still some resistance in acknowledging other systems (ie. robots) as potentially as real as us.
I probably should have just said real (phenomenologically) as opposed to unreal instead of more real...

At the same time I'm getting tired of the trend towards (can I say this?) belittling human beings by constantly reducing our behaviour, feelings and thoughts to biology/neurophysiology. For example, the idea that art is a strategy for reproduction, or talking about happiness as the release of serotonin etc. I'm sceptical that this is the most instructive/beneficial mode to understand and relate to happiness, art, or pain in our own lives. Telling ourselves stories about our moments of happiness, or why and how we choose to do art, I think, often gets us closer to what happiness and art means, and subsequently, in a way, to what it is. I guess my criticism of reductionism would be it's narrow way (only looking at the efficient cause) to go about explaining/understanding pain, and it's dismissive attitude towards other ways of explaining/understanding pain.
I agree in the sense that I think that these "stories" (accounts of the world where familiar things, like other people, follow familiar rules, where things resemble experience as opposed to being reduced to a more fundamental level, if I've interpreted you correctly) are useful as a shorthand for describing events from a mind's or minds' perspective(s). But by reducing these phenomena we may be able to isolate what causes them, thus enabling us to look for the same thing elsewhere in nature, to begin to see what "minds" we have been disregarding, what stories are not being told. In this form, reductionist theory might belittle human beings, but only by changing our values in suggesting that instances of suffering and pleasure are more common than we had previously thought.

For say, left out of this picture, and one very good reason why at least I would hesitate to compare our pain with the pain of a robot, is all that is bound up with our pain. It's something we all share in, and know that we all share in. In other words, we have feelings and thoughts about it which sometimes leads to a piece of writing or music or whatever else. It leads us to do all kinds of strange things, like Dostoevsky can write about this russian woman that fell in love with someone that she could have married anytime she pleased, only that she constantly invented reasons for herself for why she couldn't and, owing to a particularly picturesque landscape that day, ended her life throwing herself into a river reenacting Shakespeare's Ophelia. No biologist or neuroscientist, not now, perhaps not ever, could shed any meaningful light on such a case, and neither on what it truly feels like to be in pain. For such cases we need other modes and I don't want to see them marginalised by reductionism, or by some idealistic scientist who finally believes to have shed his last piece of humanity in pursuit of some specific kind of knowledge. Pain, and I would really like to call it suffering now, is so bound up with all that we are that to isolate it and speak of pain in the reductionistic mode is to miss most of what is interesting and meaningful about it.
I don't see why the ineffability of our suffering as humans would not extend to that of robots as well. Assuming your heat-sensing robot feels pain (in this case the negative experience corresponding to a tendency or attraction to moving back five feet after its sensor is triggered or, put another way, an aversion to not moving back five feet when its sensor is triggered), all the efforts of scientists to convey, merely through written explanation, what that robot's pain is truly like would be in vain, would they not?

Oh, and I'm not sure if I can agree to your other question, because I don't think it's the case that "phenomenological 'inner worlds'" are postulated at all, except perhaps in the past tense.
You don't think people assume that they have future inner selves as well as past selves? Surely Bob wouldn't say "that's going to hurt in the morning" after falling down a flight of stairs if he thought that Morning Bob as a subject of experience didn't exist.
 

crippli

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#7
I'll make an attempt on this one
Are these the last gasps of dualism and a futile attempt to centralize utility in the human (and maybe animal) sphere thus enabling a sort of comforting presumption of group-level self-importance in ethical reasoning, or is there something more to them?
First. I don't think there is going to be any last gasps of dualism. Its ingrained in people. Like there is dark and there is light. There is hot and there is cold. People are efficient. So the grey zone isn't all that interesting. When you have 10 things to consider. Adding the grey zone will require quite a bit more brain power. Not to mention 50, or 100 aspects..

So, I've found that most people think simply, to get things done. Regardless of the consequences.

Group? Sure, if I understand what you mean. Isn't suffering relative? Would you suffer if you didn't know anyone else who did?
 

The Grey Man

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#8
First. I don't think there is going to be any last gasps of dualism. Its ingrained in people. Like there is dark and there is light. There is hot and there is cold. People are efficient. So the grey zone isn't all that interesting. When you have 10 things to consider. Adding the grey zone will require quite a bit more brain power. Not to mention 50, or 100 aspects..

So, I've found that most people think simply, to get things done. Regardless of the consequences.
I meant more dualism as a defensible position given increasingly reductionist scientific accounts of how the world works, but I agree, dualism seems to be the rule rather than the exception when it comes to people's beliefs regarding the nature of their own minds.

Group? Sure, if I understand what you mean. Isn't suffering relative? Would you suffer if you didn't know anyone else who did?
How can it be that suffering presupposes knowledge of someone else who suffers? It seems to me that it is merely a dimension of experience whose salience (intensity?) is proportional to the degree to which the experience is unfavourable, or something like that.

What I meant by "group-level self-importance" is that by limiting instances of experience, and thus suffering and pleasure, to people and animals in one's mind, one restricts measurements of utility to a relatively exclusive group which includes oneself, thus securing the feeling that one is important.
 

Artsu Tharaz

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#9
Why, you are, of course. :cat:

Suffering sends a meaning of "problem, problem, source of pain requires attention else disaster may loom". So, we feel pain, we move away from the source of the pain. And as a result, we avoid damage and repair damage caused. So it is a preventative measure against system failure.

I often consider whether suffering is valuable in itself, if one were to ignore its meaning. Sure, damage to the body is best avoided, but the experience of the pain, if isolated to a virtual reality, could very well be valuable, even enjoyable. Perhaps.

Now, as for what it is that suffering wards off and why it is bad, we could use the example of death. The organism delays the inevitable by avoiding danger and thus staying alive and propagating. Without suffering, such a bloodline could never have came to be, there could be no life for life would lack the motivation to keep together.

So, likely something is occurring on the molecular level which causes this pain signal, and the inherent meaning along with it.
 

Rixus

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#10
With human suffering, I tend to take a leaf of Marslow's book on the pyramid of needs. When those needs aren't met, suffering can occur. First, your physiological needs must be met. You need to feed; and here I define the difference between being uncomfortable and suffering. It is uncomfortable that lunch isn't for another 40 minutes, it is suffering when you haven't eaten in 3 days and would risk your life to steal a loaf of bread.

This takes us into the next level - safety. If you would risk your life for food if you were starving, then maybe it's worth more than your safety. If this isn't met, there is suffering in pain. But also in fear. And again, we see the difference between suffering and discomfort. We lock our doors at night for fear, but this isn't suffering. Those who suffer here fear to speak out against their tyrannical leaders for fear of public execution. They are slaves forced into prostitution, or children beaten regularly.

So you're safe. Are you free from suffering? No, because you are still human and have emotional needs. Children cannot be reared without human affection. Humans are essentially pack animals and need to belong. We need affection, companionship. And prolonged isolation is actually considered a form of torture. A cruel and unusual punishment.

And it is at this point where things start to get a little difficult to understand. How can you still suffer if you are well fed, warm, safe and loved? Well, then we have a sense of esteem and worth to society. How many unemployed people feel utterly useless not because they are starving, but because they feel useless to society? Are these people suffering? Does it not make a person depressed to know that they are not fulfilling their potential event moderately?

What about then your cognitive needs? Boredom? A good mental challenge often makes me feel revived and to be honest one of the worst jobs I ever did was at a factory for some extra holiday time money. All I had to do was pick up a plastic box from one conveyor, open it and place it on another beside it. That was so mind numbingly boring that I honestly think I could not have taken it for long. You could even add aesthetic needs to this after that, but even I can't explain how suffering could occur from a lack of aesthetics since I don't have much sense of one.

And finally, there is supposed to be self-actualisation. But at this point, I don't believe it exists. Humans cannot reach the point where they are not capable of suffering, or the point of life satisfaction. Because we are driven to better ourselves. We are driven to never cease to fight to survive because naturally, that is the state we would be in. Stop fighting for survival and you will not get your food, you will be eaten by a lion, your may lose your pack. I think it is this instinct that keeps us constantly striving to invent and discover new things. To expand and improve.
 

The Grey Man

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#11
Why, you are, of course. :cat:

Suffering sends a meaning of "problem, problem, source of pain requires attention else disaster may loom". So, we feel pain, we move away from the source of the pain. And as a result, we avoid damage and repair damage caused. So it is a preventative measure against system failure.

I often consider whether suffering is valuable in itself, if one were to ignore its meaning. Sure, damage to the body is best avoided, but the experience of the pain, if isolated to a virtual reality, could very well be valuable, even enjoyable. Perhaps.
I think that's impossible. Whether we like it or not, phenomena are logically antecedent to any and all suppositions we have about the world external to our experience, and whose processes are theorized to cause it based on observations of it that reveal underlying rules. If external processes, like an object being pushed away from something or safeguards against system failures, are not correlated with phenomenal suffering (which is unpleasant by definition and thus not enjoyable), I see no reason to call them suffering.

...Are they correlated with phenomenal suffering, though? How can we know? Even if we could ask them, their answers would not necessarily be reliable. How do we explain our own suffering, given its unpreferability, except by saying that the forces commanded by our wills to secure preferable conditions (whose existence is implicit in the fact that we have preferences, which seem to be the phenomenal correlate of physical tendencies, will being the correlate of the manifestation of these tendencies) are insufficient to end it given their current type, strength, orientation, and disposition? This is why my second question asks if suffering is nothing more than resistance (or maybe our own failures to offer resistance of our own, given type, orientation, and disposition problems), perhaps the "problem block" Animekitty was talking about, within any system. Is this the case, and if so, does it eviscerate animal-centric utilitarianism given the usual bundle of assumptions, provided chiefly by science, concerning the nature of the world?

Now, as for what it is that suffering wards off and why it is bad, we could use the example of death. The organism delays the inevitable by avoiding danger and thus staying alive and propagating. Without suffering, such a bloodline could never have came to be, there could be no life for life would lack the motivation to keep together.

So, likely something is occurring on the molecular level which causes this pain signal, and the inherent meaning along with it.
You left out the part where you explain why death is bad. From your explanation, I'm forced to conclude that the organism's own structure is bad because it subjects it to a lifetime of suffering and propagates, creating more suffering.
 

Cognisant

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#12
Is it just resistance to a system reaching equilibrium?
Beautifully accurate and succinct.
 
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#13
The features of a system have to be taken into account when determining whether suffering is a possibility.

Resistance is an intrinsic aspect of matter. Everything resists but not everything suffers, to say otherwise, is projecting. Furthermore, not everything that is capable of suffering which resists necessarily suffers.

An organism in a state of suffering is overwhelmed with stress, that is to say, mechanisms of re-establishing relative order are over-loaded; it is the effect of being over-powered (out of control).

Suffering, which is a state presently limited to specific organisms (and not modern day vacuum cleaners), is a sophistication of sensitivity to internal dynamics.

The question remains, why suffer?

Why has the body evolved to sense such an extreme and disabling level of pain?

If the function of pain/suffering were to simply signal a significant degree of disorder then surely a manageable level of pain, just enough to provoke and permit a response (e.g. rest or self-treatment), would be ideal.

Why then?

Well, a possible answer may be intuited by anyone who has learnt a valuable thing or two due to misfortune, or better put, from the potential consequence of strength as an aftermath of honest endurance. Suffering and the processes of overcoming lead to interesting forms of growth.

To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities — I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not — that one endures. -N.
 

The Grey Man

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#14
The features of a system have to be taken into account when determining whether suffering is a possibility.

Resistance is an intrinsic aspect of matter. Everything resists but not everything suffers, to say otherwise, is projecting. Furthermore, not everything that is capable of suffering which resists necessarily suffers.

An organism in a state of suffering is overwhelmed with stress, that is to say, mechanisms of re-establishing relative order are over-loaded; it is the effect of being over-powered (out of control).

Suffering, which is a state presently limited to specific organisms (and not modern day vacuum cleaners), is a sophistication of sensitivity to internal dynamics.
What is relative order? If it is a state that certain mechanisms of the organism tend to re-establish in response to stress, I'm inclined to refer to it as an equilibrium state relative to those mechanisms and the mechanisms that disturb it upon being introduced, serving as stresses on the system.

When the mechanisms of re-establishing relative order are over-loaded, I'm inclined to refer to this as an instantaneous failure to reach equilibrium due to the unbalance created by stress on the system being too great for the mechanisms of order to overcome instantaneously. Instantaneously because, given time, equilibrium may yet be achieved. "Resistance" is encountered which can be defined as the conditions that entail this present failure (like a platoon of soldiers who are, for the time being, unable to seize a village due to encountering resistance from its inhabitants), but it may not persist forever because the nature of the change yet to be undergone by the system is uncertain.

I'm still left defining suffering as "resistance to a system reaching equilibrium".

So I'm no closer to understanding why vacuum cleaners don't experience suffering.
 
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#15
Relatively ordered refers to a range of states in which a particular (or set of) part(s) of an organism functions to an appropriate degree; why "relative" order? If it were absolutely ordered then it could never be subject to dysfunction or the compromise of functionality, otherwise, that is a fine interpretation.

In response to the question, the first two paragraphs allude to an answer: a modern day vacuum cleaner simply lacks the internal components necessary to process and translate the disorder into suffering.

If we abide by that definition of suffering then we would have to accept that everything is capable of suffering owing to the range of effects (e.g. attraction, repulsion, assimilation etc.) caused by interaction.

We would also have to ask ourselves why and how can we suppress the experience of suffering using certain pharmaceuticals while not disrupting or even causing resistance as defined above?
 

The Grey Man

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#17
Relatively ordered refers to a range of states in which a particular (or set of) part(s) of an organism functions to an appropriate degree; why "relative" order? If it were absolutely ordered then it could never be subject to dysfunction or the compromise of functionality, otherwise, that is a fine interpretation.

In response to the question, the first two paragraphs allude to an answer: a modern day vacuum cleaner simply lacks the internal components necessary to process and translate the disorder into suffering.
What components are these? Or maybe it would be better to ask, what is the process that is required to translate disorder/lack of equilibrium into suffering?

If we abide by that definition of suffering then we would have to accept that everything is capable of suffering owing to the range of effects (e.g. attraction, repulsion, assimilation etc.) caused by interaction.
Indeed. This is of great concern to a utilitarian who wants the feeling of making decisions that yield the highest expected global utility.

We would also have to ask ourselves why and how can we suppress the experience of suffering using certain pharmaceuticals while not disrupting or even causing resistance as defined above?
I suppose it would be by introducing an entity (drug) that exerts a causal influence upon the body to include a mitigation of the stress/imbalance and/or an increase in the effectiveness of mechanisms tending to restore equilibrium, or suppress suffering, in the target system. Much of the resistance caused by the drug happens relative to a system other than the target system, whose imbalance caused its introduction by triggering associations between suffering and the need for the drug, which translated into voluntary action to administer the drug. So the problem is "solved" from the perspective of the system whose imbalance was rectified by the drug even though the body is still riddled with imbalance.
 
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#18
Regarding the drug, yes, those would certainly be suitable methods for reducing the experience of pain/suffering. However, certain drugs do not target the stress itself but rather deal with the inhibition of the effects of that stress (i.e. pain/suffering) which means resistance is unaffected.

How?

What does it influence which suppresses the experience of pain/suffering?

The answer must be whatever it is those components are.

In general terms, it is a specialized space within the body receptive to messengers which are sensitive to stress. The sensitized messenger needs to be able to travel from the area of stress through the body to the receptive space and that space needs to be able to process and translate those messengers (highly specific) information into a particular form (pain). That space must have a form of connection to all areas of the body in order to localize the pain and a constant relaying of information dependant on the conditions of the affected area which affects the quality of the (space's) output.

If any of that is accurate, one would expect that there are several ways of interfering with the experience of pain/suffering.
 

The Grey Man

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#19
I'm still not following how suffering is different from a lack of equilibrium. You have described how a system that is capable of suffering can extend to all areas of the body due to information propagation, but not how this information is processed into suffering when it reaches a central location, so I'm still left with the vacuum cleaner quandary. The aversiveness that defines phenomenal (ontologically dependent) suffering leads me to believe that it is merely the corollary of a lack of equilibrium in any system, any state which is contrary to the system's tendencies.
 
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#20
An event is just that, an event.

An event and the outcome of the highly variable processing of said event are distinct. The latter is not the reality of the former, rather, the latter is the former twisted or shaped. The former does not depend on the latter to exist.

Bodies that lack the tools to register, translate, and relay an event to itself will simply not experience any event.

The "shaping" tools different bodies possess differ, and therefore, the quality of the outcome differs. Furthermore, the events that can possibly occur to different bodies differ simply because bodies differ in constitution.

Regarding the conversion process; I don't know. Got no specifics (as a physiologist might do). There's probably much error in the details of my description, however, it is a generalization.
 

The Grey Man

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#21
An event is just that, an event.

An event and the outcome of the highly variable processing of said event are distinct. The latter is not the reality of the former, rather, the latter is the former twisted or shaped. The former does not depend on the latter to exist.
On this we agree. It seems that phenomena such as suffering do not exist independently of events in a more fundamental external reality. But while I think they emerge from, are corollaries the external reality, whose properties mirror those of the system they represent with lower granularity (as more abstract rather than less abstract, maybe atomal, quantic, or irreducible entities), you seem to be saying that events in the external reality are converted into phenomena in a process that somehow bridges the phenomenal and external worlds. I can't accept the view you describe fully because such process has never been observed to my knowledge. The input (external information propagation) and output (phenomena) have been observed/experienced, but not what happens in between. The view I describe eliminates this problem by making the question of whether you're describing external events or phenomena a matter of at what level of abstraction you describe the system.

Bodies that lack the tools to register, translate, and relay an event to itself will simply not experience any event.

The "shaping" tools different bodies possess differ, and therefore, the quality of the outcome differs. Furthermore, the events that can possibly occur to different bodies differ simply because bodies differ in constitution.

Regarding the conversion process; I don't know. Got no specifics (as a physiologist might do). There's probably much error in the details of my description, however, it is a generalization.
Perhaps this discussion requires input from an expert.
 
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#22
Correct; that is where we diverge.

The wish to terminate suffering is not necessarily virtuous and is generally founded on impulsivity and instinct rather than reason.

An adequate reason to end suffering would be to achieve a specific goal that suffering may inhibit, otherwise, it could very well be that, the infliction of suffering, is conducive to a goal (e.g. conducting amputations without the use of anaesthetics to avoid further complications or imperialism), which means, the restriction of suffering may also, ironically, cause suffering, by, for example, enslaving an individual or group from pursuing goals or fulfilling drives which necessitate suffering.

What all this means is that the only way to end all suffering is to terminate the existence of all systems capable of suffering.
 

kantor1003

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#23
The view I describe eliminates this problem by making the question of whether you're describing external events or phenomena a matter of at what level of abstraction you describe the system.
But if according to your account pain is whenever some event interferes with a system in such a way as to prevent it from reaching equilibrium, then your definition of suffering is way too inclusive (edit: it could be interesting to take that definition as a loose intuition and apply it to social groups, societies, countries, etc.). After all, you have admitted that a vacuum cleaner equipped with a heat censor can experience pain, or at least there is nothing in your definition that seems to rule it out, but I think most of us are as confident as we'll ever be in saying that it doesn't. Perhaps some conditions should be imposed on the system so as not to allow for every kind? For we are not talking about the weather as well here? I mean, if so, poor heavens, it would be suffering hell up there!
But still, even if you list some conditions to narrow down the possible systems that would qualify, and a dog is an example of such a system, we still wouldn't really know, if we want to get at the experience, whether it actually experienced the hurtfulness of pains, the itchiness of itches etc. or whether it simply was doing something like what the heat detecting vacuum cleaner was doing when it registered a high temperature causing it to turn backwards. But of course by then, if your revised proposal was accepted, it would simply be true by definition.
 

Artsu Tharaz

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#24
The Grey Man said:
You left out the part where you explain why death is bad
It's not so much that I was saying it was bad... rather that without propogation of life we would not be here to ask the question, so we have an inbuilt assumption that survival=good, since, y'know, that view is good for survival. Not that survival is necessarily good or not, but it just is what it is.
 

The Grey Man

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#25
Relevant:
Brian Loar said:
There is a well known "absent qualia" argument against functionalism by Ned Block [1978]. Suppose the Chinese nation were organized so as to realize the psychofunctional organization of a person seeing green. Evidently the Chinese nation would not collectively be seeing green or having any other sensation. Any psychofunctional property could in this way be realized without a given phenomenal quality, and hence cannot be identical with one. Now this argument might appear dialectically more telling than the inverted qualia argument, for it apparently rests on more than a conceptual possibility. It seems a plain truth that the Chinese people would not thereby be having a collective sensation. Surely it is barmy to be agnostic about that. Block suggests a principle. "If a doctrine has an absurd conclusion which there is no independent reason to believe, and if there is no way of explaining away the absurdity or showing it to be misleading or irrelevant, and if there is no good reason to believe the doctrine that leads to the absurdity in the first place, then don't accept the doctrine."
Source: Brian Loar, "Phenomenal States" (second version)

The doctrine that suffering depends only on properties of abstract systems, which can be instantiated in vacuum cleaners and heat sensing robots (and, indeed, societies, countries, and the heavens themselves), to exist also leads to "absurd" conclusions that one could reasonably expect to provoke incredulity in a normal person.

This incredulity would likely be a consequence of reluctance to ascribe suffering to an entity that doesn't closely resemble our own selves under the condition of suffering. Add to that the pervasiveness of solemn moral beliefs based on the limitation of suffering which is worth consideration in utilitarian calculations to humans and certain animals and there would likely be a good deal of cognitive dissonance.

But if tendencies to establish equilibrium/aversions to the lack thereof in a system are not limited to a more specific kind of system (like humans and certain animals), why should suffering be?
 

The Grey Man

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#27
Also relevant (and thanks are to higs for bringing my/our attention to this formidable work):

David J. Chalmers, “Facing Up To the Problem of Consciousness”
http://consc.net/papers/facing.html

The double-aspect theory of information provides us with the most parsimonious and explanatorily powerful theory of consciousness I know of.

It suggests that all instances of information processing have a corresponding phenomenal structure (for every system of information there is "something that it is like" or "something that it is like to be that system" (these can be used interchangeably; the difference between a "self" and a system is only conceptual), which is a space demarcated by information states, which are defined by their phenomenal properties such as order, intra-order modality, intra-modality similarity, salience, etc. which, like fundamental entities in physics, can only be defined extrinsically). Suffering seems to be correlated with a very simple kind of information processing (the detection of an "error" which is to be corrected, the manifestation of some tendency in a system implied by conditions contrary to those which it is oriented towards, the internal causation that is a lack of equilibrium), which leads one to believe that suffering is far more common and ubiquitous than complex biological organisms, probably to the extent that human efforts to maximize utility within the observable universe are futile.
 

addictedartist

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#28
your mom ':p
 

The Grey Man

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#29
There seems to be an identity between repulsive and attractive forces and hedonic aversion and affinity respectively. Human aversion towards suffering seems to correspond to negative/phobic tendencies and will towards pleasurable states to positive/philic tendencies. So it would seem that evaluations of global utility whose data are derived entirely from human subjects are myopic folly; suffering and pleasure are as ubiquitous as push and pull. So humanity needs a better concept of the greatest good: not a comfortable hole to crawl into, but a grand philosophical endeavor to partake in the most fundamental duty of all, if any duty can be found: the duty to find one's duty.
 

QuickTwist

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#30
@The Grey Man,

I would look up what Jordan Peterson has to say about being a heroic being and the psychological impact of mythology in our lives in how we deal with questions revolving around pleasure/pain.

As I understand suffering, I think it's not necessarily about eliminating it, but putting yourself in a position to overcome it in a practical sense where suffering no longer deters what it is you want to accomplish. Obviously, this assumes that people have things they want to accomplish and this is ambiguously different for everyone. Some people wish to create a work of art. In that process of making an art piece, the artist may dive headlong into their suffering in order to create something which represents the sense of self the artist feels at the time the art piece is created. Some people set their sights on becoming great at something. What they would do is learn the art of sacrifice, dedication, and practice. Some people just want pleasure and as such, are trying to be as efficient as possible. What all these things have in common is that they are trying to overcome their suffering in one way or another.
 

Nebulous

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#31
Things that I experience as suffering:
Being sick
Other people being in pain
So many people I know have chronic illnesses- Lyme, Lupus.
Family suffering. When the whole fam is broken over something together. There’s unity but it’s just so much sorrow
Death of pets or loved ones or even strangers especially if they went in a tragic way
Knowing there’s very little you can actually do to help someone with a terminal disease.
Cancer.
People who sacrifice so much and still are dealt horrible tragedies. The kind of pain that makes a good person angry - when my great aunt died and my uncle who was a very religious man loosing faith and being so bitter and angry at god.
When a good hearted choice ends in tragedy. Friends feeling guilty. - a family friend was sick , doctors didn’t know what was going on. His friends brought him on a fishing trip to cheer him up and he died that night.
Suicide. The pain of parents and family and friends who have lost someone.

Those are what come to mind.

Some overarching themes seem to be:
being unable to ease the pain of loved ones (helplessness)
Extremely undeserved suffering
Being sick yo physical pain sucks


Idk
 

Animekitty

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#32
My brothers can hold hot coals in his hand and pound his head into the wall until he is unconscious. I, on the other hand, feel pain much more acutely. My bother has lost half his teeth I have not lost any. He does not care about pain and that makes him dangerous. Any normal person would stop fighting at some pain point. Or stop and think carefully before doing a home project. When fixing my mom's door I would have used goggles to keep the sawdust out of my eyes. The sawdust flew into his face as he used the chainsaw to fit the door in place. He likes to build things but in not careful doing it. He tried to hurt me several times because I was helping him the wrong way which was I said we needed to be careful.
 

higs

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#33
It’s the functional mechanism of avoidance to a stimuli. That and some weird voodoo internal subjective qualia going with it that seems non functional. But we don’t talk about that part it annoys people because it’s mysterious and not observable by anyone except the individual experiencing.
 

The Grey Man

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#34
It’s the functional mechanism of avoidance to a stimuli. That and some weird voodoo internal subjective qualia going with it that seems non functional. But we don’t talk about that part it annoys people because it’s mysterious and not observable by anyone except the individual experiencing.
On the contrary: I think it's the only part we talk about. We wouldn't go looking for the underlying mechanism of the internal suffering if that suffering was not contained in our intrinsic being to start with. The physical aspect is a theory of the phenomenal aspect; we created it. It's an odd paradox of philosophy that one would go looking for ways that qualia arise from physical processes when it seems to me to be the other way around, that the theory which constitutes the physical world is an a posteriori manipulation of the primitive concepts given in experience. In and of ourselves we possess the meager building blocks with which to construct our model of the universe. Due to our own limited natures, we are in the the philosophical special olympics, where the grand prize is not wisdom and the commandments of duty, but a maximally parsimonious, "elegant" theory, of whose correctness we have no more assurance than that of any other. Even the most brilliant analysis will have to admit this limitation. The real Olympian is not only an impossible, but an inconceivable ideal which we can only mimmick pathetically.

How can any revelation of duty arise from this shuffling of building blocks? Is it my lot merely to surrender to the will and wonder not at my role in providence? Where is the man for whose lofty summits of noble character and righteous forbearance I yearned in my youth? Was this guiding star but a mirage, a dust mote on my portal into the abyss?
 

Animekitty

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#35
The pain center of the brain is the brain stem.
Even fish feel pain because they have brain stems.
 
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