Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Receptivity to Reality

Fiducial utilitarianism talks about receptivity to enhancement, as a definition of "trust". Generally I like trust and trustworthiness. But it occurs to me that being "trust oriented" is not necessarily trustworthy. Being into what enhances you is not necessarily trustworthy. Instead, you can connect to a thing in itself.

One criticism of hedonism that a person could make is that it could lead to the following dialogue:

"I love you."

"You mean, I give you pleasure?"

"Well, yeah! Duh!"

Which is a funny thing to say, kind of childish or childlike. (Or you could make the exchange be darker: "Yeah, you mean nothing more to me than the pleasure you give me.")

Happiness is an objective state of affairs, a state of good fortune. We judge that we are in a happy state, at times. And that makes us feel a certain way, what we call "feeling happy".

We might see the problem in only being into happy feelings. Then, we might further see the problem in only being into judgments that we are happy. We can see how these things deny objective reality. Why not just "wirehead", hack your brain so that you always have happy feelings or judgments?

Then, we might further see the problem in only being into happy states of affairs, good fortune for us, because good fortune for us through states of affairs makes the states of affairs be about us. We say "X gives me enhancement.", but the sentence that we could be saying is "X.". The concern for enhancement gets in the way of X, the thing itself.

So then we might want to replace or reform fiducial utilitarianism with a different utilitarianism, one which maximizes receptiveness to reality. Just as with receptivity to enhancement, this receptiveness is on multiple levels. Here's a provisional sketch of the levels of trust and receptivity to reality:

Do people really exist to each other?

I see a person X:

1. X has a body. --Okay, on that level they're real.

2. I can form a mental model of X's mind. --Good, I consider them a person.

3. X exists for me only relevant to the pain or pleasure they give to me. --No, on that level, all that exists to me is my pleasure or pain.

I think that receptivity to reality could be seen as true fiducialism, if we take fiducialism to mean "seek what is most trustworthy". (That's one of the meanings in the booklet about fiducialism.) True enhancement is to be free from the mental category of enhancement. So I may use "fiducialism" as a shorthand for "seeking receptivity to enhancement, which if most intense is receptivity to reality".

If I want to make this reform, does it threaten anything else I've written? I'm not sure right now about everything, but there are a few thoughts that come to mind:

I've supposed that "everything is trust", that that's what all conscious existence is. So then, people who are most real are those who trust the most, most truly, most deeply. And thus God trusts, and thus has to be receptive to enhancement from the realities of our pain, and from the disconnection from him which we experience. And thus God must in some way be separable from God (implying someone like Jesus). Does it matter if we remove the "enhancement" term from "God must be receptive to enhancement from the realities of our pain and our disconnection from God"? So instead, "God must be receptive to the realities of our pain and our disconnection from him"? That seems to give the same result, someone like Jesus.

It seems plausible that those who are most receptive to reality are those who are most real. Looking at it that way, it seems like "enhancement" is an extra term that gets in the way of a person connecting with reality. You could say that consciousness is always consciousness of something. So in order to be, you must be conscious of something (if at minimum just yourself). Being is being conscious of something. Personal being is being conscious of something in a personal way. So being is being receptive to reality, and to be real (to "be more" or "most be"), you have to be fully receptive to reality, as a person. This is parallel to what I've said before, that to be real is to be fully receptive to enhancement from reality, which is to fully trust. Thus receptivity to reality can replace trust, as the basic material of reality which I would say everything is.

So, maybe this won't cause too many problems for me. Maybe it won't, or maybe it will.

It's pretty hard to not be enhancement-oriented. I'm reminded of Buber's I-You vs. I-It thinking. I-You sounds pretty good, but the way Buber defines it, it's kind of rare. I can see someone saying that I-It and enhancement-orientation are hardwired in us for survival. I don't really want to denigrate enhancement or enhancement-orientation. So I like creating a continuity between trustworthiness in terms of enhancement, on the one hand, and trustworthiness in terms of reality, on the other, emphasizing the overall unity of seeking enhancement and seeking reality by connecting them both to trustworthiness. The truest enhancement is to be freed from enhancement-orientation, and thus to just be receptive to reality. And thus I like, as above, continuing to consider receptivity to reality fused with the concept of fiducialism that I've already described.

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