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Let's see how open minded you all really are.

I don't mean to be rude, but I think this post will offend the sensibilities of a few of you, and for that I won't apologize. This, while an elaboration of a comment to inmysocks, falls in line with my discussions. I have already touched on this point, but I failed to make it clear last time. I will attempt to do so now.



Happiness is not bad. Ever. Ask anyone who has been happy. Ever.

There. Let the flame wars begin. I can just see you all infuriated at the audacity of such an insane comment. Or perhaps you don't see why this flies in the face of much of modern American thought.

Utopia - "a perfect place, paradise"

You all should immediately see what's wrong with the above definition and see why utopias are not only impossible, but also to be feared: they are perfect. You go in, and you don't want to leave. We see all sorts of situations in pop culture that prove this point: Star Trek Generation's space anomaly ribbon and the Matrix (at the end, if you're clued into how the MAtrix works) for starters. Yet this is a lame retort. We have learned these are bad, but the only substance to these arguments is that they are portrayed as wrong - someone chose to live differently. And I do not understand why. Sure, you give up some happiness for the greater good and all that, but you do so because there is supposed to be a net increase in happiness for all - sacrifice some of yours for the greater good. I have actually seen shows that have some misguided vigilante assume that everything would go to pot and thus "saved" a bunch of people from their little clique of a utopia because 'it would have failed.' The world they were drug kicking and screaming back into - for their own good - was not actually conducive to happiness so much the common collective's idea of what it meant to be civilized.

As an iconoclast, I have to call that nonsense. We should NOT presuppose failures without sufficient reason. I can hear the sputtering of 'but OF COURSE there's sufficient reason. . .' Well, I am not convinced. Failure is not a reason in of itself - really, every government has failed. Failed at keeping the subjects happy. Yes, that includes democracy. (Wake up and, for just a moment, take down your jaded outlook and take note of the rampant corruption and the people who are constantly oppressed in some form; it should be so crushing you instantly will rationalize it off as a small necessity for the advancement of civilization or some nonsense - I did at least.) 'But we've made HUGE strides advancing the quality of life!' Yes, that is completely true. But the statement is vague, it lacks comparison - it needs an unbiased filterless comparison for the argument to be truly weighty, else it's just one reason's word versus another's (and don't tire me with "but you can't do that yourself anyhow!" - I know, but I think you should still appreciate the need for such an analysis, even if it is outside our grasp.) There are also many other respects where the quality of life is still lacking or has gotten worse. No doubt you are convinced that the order of magnitude is greater on the side of improvement. You may be right, but, as ever, I doubt things stated with such fervent certainty.

So I challenge the argument against utopias. Aside from the significant fault that they are not humanly possible to implement, I think there is no other fault. By definition. "Perfect society" means it's perfect.

1) But utopias create a society that lacks choice - the option to be different.
Perhaps, though that is more open to the interpretation of what is meant by choice. I take it as removing the desire to choose. You wouldn't want to leave. Logically, the choice of being different is moot. But let's think about this. Let's say there's a computer that chooses my occupation for me - one that should be perfectly suited for my mind and body. How dare I let the computer choose for me - and yet, in the end, I would rather do nothing else. This is a rather well know Asimov short story, and I think it is often taken to be a form of dystopia, incorrectly. What is wrong about it is that someone has decided a role for us. Yet, trades and marriages alike have been predestined by parents for centuries. Looking back, this has resulted in massive discontent and a general disillusionment toward life. - - - You better not have walked into that and just agreed with it, because it isn't really true.

2) But it IS true! If they knew that they could do something else, they could chose to be happier!
Has knowledge brought you greater happiness? I have gained greater insight in life and the nature of things - but all that does is emphasize that I understand an impossibly small subset of what there is to know out there. So I retort: how would you educate a person so that their lot in life improves so that they can chose greater happiness? inmySOCKS seems to get this quandary. You will, no matter what, bias them towards a role of life you think is better, but may not in fact be their ideal. None of us should really claim to know what is best for others, but there is merit to attempting to improve other's lives, so long as this is noninvasive. My life has been improved because I take what seems best to me from numerous sources. Nonetheless, ignorance is bliss. Really, how unhappy is a person who does not know the upper bounds of happiness? I think that was what INmysocks was getting at.

3) Mindless zombies. End of discussion.
Unfair argument - we could just as simply assume that the utopians are enlightened and civilized. Equal assumption - though there is a disturbing number of utopias that rely on ignorance. I can only suppose that a society with rational and thinking individuals is too complicated to model and is somehow therefore not worth analysis (though I think that is precisely why we should analyze such things.)


Basically, I am asking that the idea be approached with a different outlook: would paradise be bad if your were happy? Ignore the actual setting for the paradise or utopia - the constraint for this is that you are happy. If you were happy, would you really want things to be different? Bored, ignorant, felling trapped? Then you aren't happy, and thus that paradise is not the one I'm talking about. I fear that this for of idealistic thought may be lost on many, and it is a pity. Think about it, and you may approach the utopia problem from a different angle.

I'm tired now - too much work went into this (I've already edited out a page's worth.) I'll continue and perhaps solidify my point when I've had more time to sort it out so I don't sound like I am rambling purposelessly.

By the way: inmysocks, how do you do that cool thing with the link? It seems to be a self-referential link to an unedited and longer previous version of your post. Is it easy to implement? It's too last for me to wrap my mind around the code right now...

EDIT: Thanks imanicpe for your advice. This should clog the friends page less. Also, for my information, I would like to remember to write on why clearly different things can still seem boring and repetitive, RAIDing the brain's hologram, and answer guyblade's astute observation that this all comes down to the symantics of perfection - and thus an analysis of whether perfection and idealism is beneficial, even worthwhile.

Comments

On a more fundamental level, your argument seems to be "there's no argument against a utopia because a utopia by definition cannot have anything wrong with it." Rather than being an argument about utopias, it is an argument about symantics. Thus we instead need to analyze what "perfect" really means in this context and decide whether this "perfection" is desirable.
Right on. I got too tired to finish, and your post shows I was on track. I will probably get around to part two of this post on Wednesday morning where I'll have the time to hash out the logic. And thanks for getting the point. I imagine that this will be one of my more difficult posts to formulate.
You definitely came up with an application of Jed's argument that neither he nor I thought of. You'd probably be equally relaxing to drive across town at midnight with. For neato codeness:www.livejournal.com/support/faqbrowse.bml?faqid=75.