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Would AI Choose Asceticism? A Prelude for Scientists

Dr Jonathan Kenigson, FRSA*

First Lecture for Silicon Valley Executive Network (SVEN)

Silicon Valley, California, USA

E1 – The Naturalistic Fallacy. 

It is unjustifiable to identify the Pleasant with either the Natural or the Good. If the Natural is numerically and identically equivalent to the Good and the Good is identically equivalent to some subset of the Pleasant acts, then the Natural is identically and numerically equivalent to subset of the Pleasant. We observe numerous counterexamples in the case of humans generally and in the lives of particular men. What is Natural to the addict does not affect his Pleasure, but rather inaugurates his ruination. What redounds to the nature of the belligerent is the eventual destruction by other belligerents. What redounds to the nature of the dishonest man is the misery of sustaining his dishonesty. The Natural is a poor source for the Good, although the Good may be shown to be a product of certain Pleasant acts. Happiness is also to be distinguished from Pleasure, as not all Pleasure immediately eventuates in Happiness and not all Happiness immediately eventuates in Pleasure. For the Ascetic, Happiness arises when the Will is free to pursue the Beatific Vision. There is no happier man than he who is free of: (1) phenomenal obligations and mental phenomena that are infinitely self-perpetuating (2) phenomenal obligations and mental phenomena that are not devoted to the Beatific Vision.

E2 – The Inscrutability of Affective Claims. 

One may not generally show that each man possesses an intimate self-knowledge of his Desires, nor may one propound the opposite inclusion – that all esse is ego. The psychology of the Other is externally phenomenologically inscrutable. The tautological nature of the self-report propounded in Stoic logic can be reasonably contravened by facts of the matter but not cogently disproved from them. What is stated as affect must be taken as tautology. Non-Contradiction does not apply to utterances descriptive of such states unless one can assert that emotive statements can be made to conform to the calculus of propositions. The postulation of Desire toward the Ascetic life is, as a self-report, similarly inscrutable. It cannot be argued that a man who propounds to Desire the Ascetic life really does not Desire it. For this part, one may cite the Empiricists of the Enlightenment (Chapters 1, 9, and 22 of Locke’s Human Understanding; Section 7 of Hume’s Human Understanding) as well as Kant’s Pure Reason (32) and Practical Reason (292). These derive in-turn from repudiation of Aquinas’ Summa Part 1 and Book 10 of Confessions of Augustine of Hippo]. The Stoic Epictetus, in Chapter 27 of Book of Discourses tacitly draws from Plato’s Charmides and Philebus. In the 20th Century, Husserl’s Phenomenology of Mind draws from Aristotle’s Soul, Book 4, Chapter 4 and Nicomachean Ethics (passim). In every case, the principle Cognitio Cogitationum est per Cognitorem Solum is upheld in the corpus of Western philosophy, save Berkeley and Spinoza, who would arrogate the Divine Mind to be of the same Substance as man’s and in necessary possession of its contents. 

E3 – Difficulties Posed by Postulation of Universal Self-Knowledge. 

Self-knowledge of mental phenomena is externally phenomenologically inscrutable and cannot be proved or assumed to exist in any given individual. Arguments for the necessary existence of certain inherent mental states may be reduced to absurdity by a single contrary self-report. Freudian psychology represents an attempt at a general critique of desire whose imputation of a universal structure to the subconscious is philosophically and logically irresponsible. Freud argues for this universality and its sublimation in Narcissism (401), Instincts (414), Beyond the Pleasure Principle (652), Ego an Id (708) and Civilization and Its Discontents (789-790). His arguments are derived from the purported universality of a Pleasure-seeking instinct that is directed towards unconscious generative Pleasures specifically. The existence of agenerative individuals is not acknowledged in this work. The superego is characterized as absolutely dominant in the state of neurosis but is not systematically proved neurotic in cases of voluntary sublimation. Freud rejects divisions of the Soul and their various Appetites in favor of a therapy of utterance – the Mind replaces the Soul as the domain in which the appetitive and rational impulses oppose each other or find tenuous harmony in sublimation or violence. Freud fails in this project through reliance on overly general and speculative induction. The self-report of the patient cannot be taken to support a theory of mental structure because the therapeutic context makes the patient already and object – incapable of uncoerced speech acts. The Phenomenologist must recognize that utterances are coerced by the mere circumstance of the clinical occasion. 

*Pagination is from Great Books of the Western World, 1952 Edition.

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