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 Pain and Pleasure as Least Common Denominators

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dynamicphilosopher



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PostSubject: Pain and Pleasure as Least Common Denominators   Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:15 pm

Ken Wilber [Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality] makes the following argument:

Quote :
This is why, as Taylor points out, the instrumental and interlocking order theorists (from Locke to Bentham) always had recourse to a hedonistic theory of motivation. In an empirical-sensory world, there is only empirical sensory motivation (what else could there be?). Since we are all strands in the great empirical web, we must all share something in common, and what all living beings have in common the lowest common denominator, in fact is the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. The homogenization of motives, the reduction of all motives to the lowest common denominator. Pg. 436


Quote :
Closely related to physical pleasure/pain in terms of motivation is simple survival of self-preservation, and subsequent systems theorists would often make self-preservation of the system autopoeisis the mono motivation that all holons posses. Autopoiesis [self-creation] would thus become another common mono-motivation in flatland. In other words, the disqualified universe still needed some sort of quality to move it into action, it needed some sort of quality to move it into action, it needed some sort of push for its action terms- it still needed some sort of push for its action terms it still needed some type of motivation to turn the gears, jiggle the web and the lowest common denominatior was all that remained.


"Is Wilber arguing for a Prime Mover here? An un-Moved Mover?


Quote :
Hedonic pleasure so to speak was the furthest into the interior that would be ventured, and this sole quality because it was essentially the same for all could then be easily quantified and thus calculated. Pg. 437

Quote :
Different qualities cannot be easily be added precisely because they are different types of entities we say Its apples and oranges. But if you can disqualify the universe by converting it into more or less of only one quality, convert it into nothing but apples, well apples can be added. Of course it is one thing to say that we are all linked at the fundamental level of pleasure/pain (for indeed we are, at the Sensorimotor level, and for all holons that possess that level. It is quite another thing to say that we all have only that level of motivation.


What is the other level of motivation that Wilber is alluding to?


Quote :
But already Helvetius would announce that Physical pain and pleasure are the unknown principles of all human actions. Significance is here completely collapsed to fundamentalness, and the interlocking utilitarians thus arrive at the common weakest noodle motivation, and this weakest noodle motivation then defines the single, sole, mono-happinesss that we are supposed to extend throughout the flatland order as an ethical imperative: the more hedonic happiness for each the better for all. Pg. 437


If Wilber is alluding to 'Spirit' as the motivation, then what are the attributes of 'Spirit'. He seems to try to make 'Spirit" into his view of what a god would be.

What's the problem with "the pursuit of happiness through the vehicle of pleasure" being the motor that drives existence?
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Aaron
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PostSubject: Re: Pain and Pleasure as Least Common Denominators   Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:01 pm

Travis is more knowledgeable about Wilber's philosophy than I am, but I'll take a stab at it anyway.

dynamicphilosopher wrote:
Quote :
Closely related to physical pleasure/pain in terms of motivation is simple survival of self-preservation, and subsequent systems theorists would often make self-preservation of the system autopoeisis the mono motivation that all holons posses. Autopoiesis [self-creation] would thus become another common mono-motivation in flatland. In other words, the disqualified universe still needed some sort of quality to move it into action, it needed some sort of quality to move it into action, it needed some sort of push for its action terms- it still needed some sort of push for its action terms it still needed some type of motivation to turn the gears, jiggle the web and the lowest common denominatior was all that remained.

"Is Wilber arguing for a Prime Mover here? An un-Moved Mover?

I think he's referring to what he calls "Spirit in action" or in other words "god".

dynamicphilosopher wrote:
Quote :
Different qualities cannot be easily be added precisely because they are different types of entities we say Its apples and oranges. But if you can disqualify the universe by converting it into more or less of only one quality, convert it into nothing but apples, well apples can be added. Of course it is one thing to say that we are all linked at the fundamental level of pleasure/pain (for indeed we are, at the Sensorimotor level, and for all holons that possess that level. It is quite another thing to say that we all have only that level of motivation.
What is the other level of motivation that Wilber is alluding to?
Wilber is arguing that one's level of motivation is related to one's level of development.

In Spiral Dynamics the levels are described as such...
Quote :
What people in each world seek out in life . . .(Goals of "Successful" Living)
1 BEIGE (A-N) survival; biogenic needs satisfaction; reproduction; satisfy instinctive urges
2 PURPLE (B-O) placate spirit realm; honor ancestors; protection from harm; family bonds
3 RED (C-P)power/action; asserting self to dominate others; control; sensory pleasure
4 BLUE (D-Q) stability/order; obedience to earn reward later; meaning; purpose; certainty
5 ORANGE (E-R) opportunity/success; competing to achieve results; influence; autonomy
6 GREEN (F-S) harmony/love; joining together for mutual growth; consciousness; belonging
7 YELLOW (G-T) independence/self-worth; fitting a living system; knowing; good questions
8 TURQUOISE (H-U) global community/life force; survival of life on Earth; adapt to realities

http://www.spiraldynamics.org/pdf_resources/SD_MiniCourse_H.pdf

Each level in the "spiral" transcends and includes the lower level, so it's true that everyone is motivated by pain and pleasure, but we are also motived by several other factors that are related to our level of development and our existential living conditions.

dynamicphilosopher wrote:
If Wilber is alluding to 'Spirit' as the motivation, then what are the attributes of 'Spirit'. He seems to try to make 'Spirit" into his view of what a god would be.
"Spirit" is the driving force behind evolution, development, and creation. It's god in manifest form.

dynamicphilosopher wrote:
What's the problem with "the pursuit of happiness through the vehicle of pleasure" being the motor that drives existence?
Because it's non-developmental and it caters to the lowest common denominator. It ignores all the "higher" motivating forces that arise as the world co-evolves.

Welcome here BTW... Smile

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Travis Clementsmith
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PostSubject: Re: Pain and Pleasure as Least Common Denominators   Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:44 am

dynamicphilosopher wrote:
"Is Wilber arguing for a Prime Mover here? An un-Moved Mover?

Depends on how one wants to look at it. His basic argument is that the subjective element of reality is just as real, just as meaningful as the objective side of the equation. It develops sequentially along with the observable side of reality and too often gets ignored as a side effect of it. So, I don't think he means a "prime-mover" in the sense of a completely enlightened omnicient source, but rather the evolutionary subjective manifestation of that source which corresponds to the evolutionary objective manifestation.

dynamicphilosopher wrote:
What is the other level of motivation that Wilber is alluding to?

If you look at Wilber's Four Quadrant chart, he's referring to the Upper Left.



Each plot on the graph corresponds to the other quadrants, so as objective aspects emerge they have corresponding subjective aspects that emerge, so what he is arguing against is reducing all of our emotions, thoughts and ideas to a simple evolution and reduction of pleasure/pain principles. While they may be more basic that doesn't always mean they are more overriding. For example, people will die for causes and ideals.

dynamicphilosopher wrote:
If Wilber is alluding to 'Spirit' as the motivation, then what are the attributes of 'Spirit'. He seems to try to make 'Spirit" into his view of what a god would be.

Its easy to equate the two, but there is subtle difference. Spirit would be the ever-present background from which all else emerges, both objective and subjective elements. Wilber prefers the term "perspectives". A perspective brings something into being. That's not to say there are no objective elements without subjective elements, but rather, the two work and co-evolve together, it makes no sense to give a value to one without the other. I can interpret the Sun in a sensory/motore fashion, a magical fashion, or a scientific fashion, in a mystical fashion; but none of those fashions exist without the subjective element interacting with the objective element.

dynamicphilosopher wrote:
What's the problem with "the pursuit of happiness through the vehicle of pleasure" being the motor that drives existence?

There's no problem with it, and I think its a mistake to rank them as "better". There is simply the progression of what has evolved. Usually, what evolved adds to the complexity and uniqueness of said element. So it can be said to have more value, but that does not mean the value is more "fundamental". We need our fundamental building blocks first, to provide the stability for greater depths of value later. Spiritually speaking, most wisdom traditions will tell you that all things will fade. At some point, simple gratification will not be enough, possibly triggering depression, a regression, or existential dread. This is what drives us to find the eternal aspects of being, but it is our simple pleasures and needs that continually distract us from what we desire most. But, everyone has to walk there own path. There's a time for simple pleasures, but there may be a time when we begin to ask, "Is that all there is?"

-TC

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