First Author’s Note
I’ve noticed two general positions from which my ideas are challenged, though they also contradict — if one of these objections is valid, then the other should not be. The more serious of the two, I think, is the assertion that the entire concept of “good and bad” is inherently unscientific, or perhaps just arbitrary. This theme seems to prevail in academic circles. The contrary general objection, however, asserts instead that the presented premise is actually quite well known. Here I may essentially be told “Your feel good theory simply cannot be important, since the significance of sensations has long been understood.” The following paragraph should be sufficient to dismiss this second concern, leaving the remaining ideas here to address the more serious “academic objection.”
I theorize that good and bad are essentially “Utilitarian,” or “Hedonistic,” or going back to ancient Greece my theory may be termed “Epicurean.” Thus assertions that I’m proposing an answer which is already known to be true, can be quickly dispelled by reviewing any such term — associated dialogue demonstrate that “sensations,” (or “qualia” if you prefer) have by no means gained acceptance as the basic element which creates positive and negative personal existence.
Moving now to the more serious “academic objection,” this is essentially the assertion that the entire concept of good and bad is naturally unscientific, or perhaps just arbitrary. If we decide that existence can be good/bad for us though not for a rock, however, then what is the essential difference between the two? What most essentially would a rock need in order for existence to be good/bad for it?
My own “sensations/qualia” answer should be quite a strong candidate given that the modern field of Economics happens to be founded upon this specific principal — here “a util” is defined as “a unit of happiness,” and “utility” is accepted to increase at a diminishing marginal rate as goods and services are consumed. Nevertheless economists also use an effective disclaimer which prevents this premise from serving as a functional ideology. This disclaimer essentially states: Economics merely seeks to describe how people “behave.” Utilitarianism is useful in this respect, specifically because people do apparently attempt to promote their own happiness in this manner. But we must not further assume that “happiness” is inherently “good” for a subject to experience. Note that without such a disclaimer utilitarianism would subject economists to an assortment of sensitive personal and social questions regarding what is “good” for us. As it is however, questions regarding how we “should behave” can technically be deferred for far less controversial speculation that merely considers how we “do behave.”
Selectable links to Wikipedia are commonly provided here in order to help support various presented assertions. Unfortunately however I’ve found nothing on this site that’s nearly as concise as the above disclaimer — and this was merely paraphrased from a general economics text that I recall from my college years. So rather than reference an encyclopedia to demonstrate this supposed economics disclaimer, permit me to use the following scenario: A modern economist is obviously free to use utility theory in order to predict the likelihood that a specific women will seek to abort her pregnancy. But is this econimist also free to use our shared premise in order to theorize whether or not an abortion would be “good” for her?… or for her society?… or for her fetus?… Of course not! Today such questions are thought to be fundamentally arbitrary, or at least be “out of bounds” such that they may only be pondered under non-science disciplines with headings such as Philosophy, Ethics, and Religion.
My own position, conversely, is that if existence can indeed be positive/negative to the human and various other types of subject, then this should concern a basic aspect of reality that science will thus be required to address. I suspect that this void largely explains why effective models of the conscious mind have not yet become recognized (and I do provide my own such model here). Regardless, without an accepted understanding of good/bad for the conscious entity, or a trait which we seem to have, but rocks, computers, and plants, seem not to, our mental and behavioral sciences should remain quite primitive.