My take on Kant’s Categorical imperative is -
The blog post A categorical imperative – To maximize humanity’s happiness carries that thought to its limits of application and it appears to end with the maximum amount of human brain weight bathed in the maximum amount of pleasure hormones. That isn’t very satisfying as a philosophical end point, but I suspect that if one pursues any seemingly good idea to its end point the results will be just as bad or worse. One positive aspect of this particular thought problem is that it does ultimately end up with a measurable something with a definite description. Most discussions of these types of things quickly devolve into endless word play.
There is the flip of this approach, which may be stated, “Act in a way to minimize the total moments of unhappiness of humanity’s total life.” But the all-too-ready answer to that quest is to end all human life by killing everyone; then there would be no human suffering because there would be no humans to suffer. Perhaps we should seek a middle ground philosophically between those two extremes, because that’s where we will probably end up. Simply subtract those moments of unhappiness from those moments of happiness and still aim for maximizing the sum of the moments of happiness. That calculation could end up with a negative number, but even so there could be a lot of happiness. If the suffering could be endured and forgotten then the happiness would remain a positive gain. Perhaps most human pain is endurable, because many people suffer enormous troubles and pain and as they continue to live they must be hoping for enough happiness to counterbalance their suffering. If the units of pain as measured on the Probaway Pain Scale could be subtracted from units of happiness as measured on the Probaway Happiness Scale, then we would have an objective measure. With those figures we could then attempt to measure total human happiness and total human pain and reach some sort of optimal balance.
The question arises can minutes of measured levels on the Pain Scale chart be subtracted from minutes at a level on the Happiness Scale and have anything reasonable. Can one be living at a HAPS~5 for one hour and then a PAINS~5 for one hour and have a meaningful statement?
HAPS~5 = Jolly merriment With security and status in a group with meaningful grand purpose. Publicly participating with a group for some group-defined higher and worthwhile end. Acceptance of other people’s social codes, and cultivating their group-defined behavior. Membership in a group which is achieving group-defined goals which are grand in conception and achieved only by the group. It is Socialism, with joining with a group and its goals for the maximizing of its and one’s own well-being.
Can an hour of that mid-level happiness be meaningfully compared to an hour of PAINS~5? PAINS~5 = Face clenched. Uncomfortable, but I can ignore it when I need to do important things. Noticeably more subdued than normal but will join fully into conversation; will avoid some actions. If the pain is new and of unknown origin check for a heart attack; upper chest or arm pain, nausea, dizziness. Can you ignore it when doing something strenuous. Does the motto: No pain, no gain, nor victory, sound right for you?
These charts were constructed without any thought of comparing them in this way, and yet it does seem that the mid-level 5 on each chart would approximately balance with the other chart. The levels of personal happiness grow in social impact over time, and the personal pain grows in intensity for increasingly consciousness-distracting times, so perhaps for the purpose of comparing the two charts one must be inverted.
This in a new and bizarre idea. Perhaps it should be discarded. And yet if Pain and Happiness are to be compared objectively it must use some standard such as is offered in these charts.