This manifesto combines far-fetched utopian advocacy with cold-headed social-scientific prediction. The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how nanotechnology and genetic engineering will eliminate aversive experience from the living world.
David Pearce is someone who I have admired and respected for a very long time. Like him I deeply share his passion and desire to enhance, expand and promote human upliftman as far and wide as possible. Only by sustaining blissful states of awareness are we likely to develop constructive pathways out of our currently destructive and fear-based society which is increasingly sowing the seeds of fear, oppression, terrorism and war.
An important point to stress in the discussion to follow is that many dopamine-driven states of euphoria can actually enhance motivated, goal-directed behavior in general. Enhanced dopamine function makes one’s motivation to act stronger, not weaker. Hyper-dopaminergic states tend also to increase the range of activities an organism finds worth pursuing. Outside the pleasure-laboratory, such states of necessity focus on countless different intentional objects. So humanity’s future as envisaged in this manifesto is not, or certainly not just, an eternity spent enraptured on elixirs of super-soma or tanked up on high-octane pleasure-machines. Nor is it plausible that posterity will enjoy only the dullish, opiated sensibility of the heroin addict. Instead, an extraordinarily fertile range of purposeful and productive activities will most likely be pursued. Better still, our descendants, and in principle perhaps even our elderly selves, will have the chance to enjoy modes of experience we primitives cruelly lack. For on offer are sights more majestically beautiful, music more deeply soul-stirring, sex more exquisitely erotic, mystical epiphanies more awe-inspiring, and love more profoundly intense than anything we can now properly comprehend.