The two strongest urges are firstly to seek pleasure, in all its myriad forms, and secondly to evade suffering, in all its myriad forms. The primordial glass half full and glass half empty of the human condition. These are the two sides of the hedonistic imperative, and are perhaps the most important motivations guiding the development of technology. Technology, and I use the word in its broadest sense, can satisfy these urges either by helping to eliminate suffering or by helping to induce pleasure. Technology to reduce suffering has throughout history largely consisted of the vast and complex fields of medicine and agriculture. On the other side of the fence, for the induction of pleasure, we find intoxicants and pharmaceuticals of other classes, as well as, arguably, every technological development that can be turned to conquest and control. Not all pleasures are good in the moral sense, or perhaps it is better to say that given our deeper origins in an animal world that runs red in tooth and claw, many of the chemical incentives inherent to our biology are triggered only through selfish and damaging acts.
There are nonetheless many pleasures that can be attained without causing harm or
Article originally posted at