Critique

I believe that as much as people can talk about being perfect, it is impossible for anyone to have complete knowledge or be perfect in any particular stream. The unpredictability of conscious thought has been an important unexplained phenomenon. So, the idea of a perfect state, seems infeasible, therefore, we might have to compromise and talk about the best "possible" state.

The Human thought process is not a perfect mechanism. Human sensory organs act as filters of knowledge because they can only pass along information that they have the ability to detect. That sensory information is further restricted by the limits of the brain's faculty for perception of information so delivered. Thought is affected by feelings and emotions such as love-hate, excited-bored, happy-sad, funny-serious, euphoric-depressed etc. Thought can be affected by mental illness. People have varying levels of intelligence, and intelligence can manifest itself selectively as with idiot savants. Chemicals released by the body, or ingested can also affect thought processes. As a result of evolutionary survival mechanisms, personality traits and characteristics are influenced by one's genetic composition. In sum, thought processes are complex mechanisms. Humanity currently lacks complete knowledge of exactly how the thought process works, and therefore lacks complete control over the same. (Non explicability of conscious thought - Shadows of the Mind - Roger Penrose).

Without a complete understanding of thought processes, and methods to completely control the same, humanity can never have a true Utopia. Under current circumstances people can be placed in a perfect environment, but there will still be hatred, jealousy and other manifestations of negative thoughts and actions. In short, a perfect environment will not provide a perfect existence for an imperfect being. It is a paradox for an imperfect being to seek a perfect existence by seeking a perfect place. In order to reach Utopia we must be able to perfect not just our environment, but also ourselves. Like control of the environment through technology, our ability to control thought processes is a necessary piece of the Utopian puzzle.

The Utopian seekers envisage that on an individual level, people must overcome the negative emotional shortcomings of Humanity. Hatred, jealousy, malice and other negative thoughts must be controlled and should never be allowed to control one's actions. The results of non-control are verbal and / or physical crimes against other persons or physical crimes to other property. Infliction of physical harm on another human is always wrong, except when done to stop physical evil. Emotional harm caused by malicious acts such as verbal abuse, theft, or destruction of other's property is always wrong. One who engages in any of these wrongful acts not only fails to respect the value of other's life, but fails to respect the value of their own life. In addition to controlling the negative side of human nature, the individual should focus on positives such as love (?), generosity, and achievement. If all individuals stopped committing crimes Humanity would be well on its way to Utopia. However, some individuals are inherently evil, and this is where society must fill the void. Those humans who engage in evil acts , and who cannot reform their behaviour  must be taken out of society permanently, by one method or another. At this point in time, society has limited resources, which leads to the conclusion that instead of wasting fertiliser on these weeds of society, the weeds should be pulled, and resources should be directed towards assisting good people in need, so that the flowers in the garden of Utopia may flourish.

Humanity will develop methods to control and regulate feelings and emotions, increase intelligence and eliminate mental illness. People will have a mental heaven through mind-shaping. People will have healthy minds free from any mental agony such as depression, because all mental illness will be cured. Humans will discover how to access and unleash the  capabilities and power of the brain, and thereby reach levels of intelligence and thought that takes the essence of being to an unimaginably complete state of existence. We-controlled- by-minds will change to we-controlling-minds. Humanity will be able to achieve control of the brain so one can elect to have any feeling or emotion desired, or elect to avoid any feeling or emotion. One will be able to have pure thought unaffected by feelings or emotions, and unrestrained by sensory or other limitations. Such mind-shaping methods may involve the use of chemicals and/or genetic engineering to enhance the pleasure pathways of the brain, and block negative feedback pathways. This would result is a perpetual state of happiness, pleasure, and joy. Boredom, anger and other negative feelings and emotions will no longer plague man. People will be happy about being in a state of happiness, a perpetual love of everything. Each individual will have the capability to completely control their thoughts, and thereby be the god of their own universe, the king of their mental sphere of existence.

Additionally, Humanity will develop sensory devices to enhance mental abilities, and virtual reality systems for unlimited mental experiences. The virtual reality systems will allow people to experience anything desired, and it will be and feel as if it actually happened. For example, instead of reading a novel, one can live the story in a three dimensional perception that can not be distinguished from reality. Through virtual systems one can experience anything they can conceptualize. Everyone would have their own unlimited mental amusement park, and the experiences can be interactive with other humans. Total freedom exists in such a world where ones virtual actions cannot cause harm or damage to anything real. For example, one could go on a mental safari and have the experience of bagging big game, yet cause no harm. There are no limits or rules in virtual land. In such a place, even the sky is not the limit because one can fly like an eagle if they so desire. The sensory devices will allow people to experience a plethora of new perceptions, and reach levels of ecstasy and other feelings beyond current human ability. Such sensory devices can heighten and enhance any feeling or perception. Some of the new feelings achieved may even make the orgasmic feeling seem dull by comparison. In fact the enhanced and expanded sensational experiences may be so blissful that people will give up the hassle of maintaining a body as a vessel, and have their brain placed in some form of a virtual sensory nutrient tank for perpetual existence at the heightened level of perception. There is some empirical evidence of such a desirability from studies which show lab rats will forgo even food in order to sustain electric stimulation of the pleasure area of their brain.

In sum, through some method or combination of methods, Humanity will have the ability to provide for all mental needs and desires. Humans will be able to achieve full mental satisfaction through utilization of maximum intellectual capabilities, the curing of all mental illness, elimination of the negative side of human nature, and virtual sensory devices.

Well, this rosy picture has certain inherent contradictions that cloud its credibility. A key caveat of mind-shaping is that society should not be able to require or restrict any such capabilities, and that the individual should have complete personal choice and control over what, if any, mind-shaping they will undergo. But then who is going to wield control over the mind-shapers. The more we use modern technology to "purify" ourselves, the more we become susceptible to manipulation by the "impure" elements of society. Consider this hypothetical situation: everyone has a chip located in the body which is programmed to detect any malfunctioning(diseases or lack of essential minerals etc.) within the body. What if someone programs it to send false signals? Such a mechanism would have to be centrally coordinated and so it would be very easy for someone to cause global havoc. It sure is a credit(or rather a discredit) to human ingenuity that man has been able to use all modern technologies to satisfy his destructive urge, be it man's first invention fire or something as revolutionary as the internet. One might say that the advantages far outweigh the adverse effects but then we can't guarantee that the advantages of all these new innovations will be ubiquitous. After all something as mundane and essential as electricity, which was invented more than a century ago is still out of reach of many people.  

Societies have valued variety over stability. Life is about change. Life cannot be uniform and same. The variety brings about the "charm" in life. One might be tempted to ask how important is this "charm" factor in life, but many people believe that this is the only factor that makes us different from machines. Loss is as much a part of life as victory. If everyone won all the time, or if everyone was successful every time, loss would be alien to us, and therefore, a victory not so precious. We are trying to put across a recurrent theme in psychology - unless one tastes failure, one would not value success, and therefore the happiness associated with it, and if one can not value happiness, then one can not feel happiness.

It is implied that by abolishing nastiness and mental pain (be it through eugenics or whatever), our Utopian world would have got rid of the most profound and sublime experiences of life. Most notably, that we would have sacrificed a mysterious deeper happiness which is implied, but not stated, to be pharmacologically inaccessible.

How would we be able to prevent some of the utopians to feel an ill-defined sense of dissatisfaction, an intermittent sense that their lives are meaningless? It is implied, further, that if we are to find true fulfillment and meaning in our own lives, then we must be able to contrast the good parts of life with the bad parts, to feel both joy and despair.

If pressed, we must concede that the victims of chronic depression or pain today don't need intervals of happiness to know they are suffering horribly. Moreover, if the mere relativity of pain and pleasure were true, then one might imagine that pseudo-memories in the form of neurochemical artifacts imbued with the texture of  "pastness" would do the job of contrast just as well as raw nastiness. The clear implication is that any kind of drug-delivered happiness is "false" or inauthentic. In similar fashion, all forms of human genetic engineering and overt behavioural conditioning are to be tarred with the same brush. Conversely, the natural happiness is more real and authentic, albeit transient and sometimes interspersed with sorrow.

I would like to make a subtle connection here. Imagine that there comes about a new language, in which each sentiment has a word, and whatever is said by one, is interpreted by the other in exactly the same manner as wanted. This would certainly get rid of a lot of misunderstandings, and eliminate the inherent ambiguity of language present in today's languages. But it is true that the "charm" in life is only brought about by this inherent ambiguity and once this is done away with, we really would be in a chaotic state.

Some Utopia seekers think Humanity's problems can be solved by community level autonomy self-rule. They believe each community should be free to set it's own standards and rules and that there should be community for each different type of belief and preference that exists. Each community would establish its own rules of conduct and behaviour. Subsequently, each person can pick a community to live in which matches their vision of an ideal community. For instance, one community may be vegetarian only with legalised drugs, another may be a community of open sexual relations with no family structure recognised, etc. Each person could live the style of life they personally choose and could do so in an environment where other lifestyles that they believe are offensive are not allowed, like exclusive social clubs there could be exclusive communities of people with common with common behavioural standards. If one desires variety of beliefs then there would be a community to accommodate such like-minded people. Whatever ones desires, preferences and beliefs, there would be a community for such like-minded people. Ofcourse for those who want to live alone, so be it.

A genuine query one might want to ask here is that "Can all individuals be typed into these supposedly assumed disjoint sets of communities?" In other words, can the individuals be distributed into these communities, and are these communities mutually exclusive. Also, who decides which community a person should go into? If it is that person itself, when does he decide? What is the correct age? When is he in a position to ascertain that these are my vision of an ideal community? For there to be true freedom, it is he, not his parents who should decide the community, but then, he too, is not in a position to make these decisions, because he himself does not know, atleast at the early stages of his life. Such paradoxes haunt this "community level" solution.

Other people believe a Utopian civilisation can be achieved by having a community that is properly structured and operated. These communities seek the solution to all human problems through a perfect living environment that is just one side of the Utopian equation. The solution to human imperfection must also be found in order to have Utopia.

Since good and evil are so interwoven with life, the basic working principles for these two elements of Utopia must be both elements as one.

While humans may be the superior intellectual beings on the planet earth, that does not make human life superior to all life in the big picture. Human life could not exist on earth without the existence of other life forms on earth. Humanity must currently exist as part of a food chain. While other life forms may be required to nourish and sustain humans, humans should respect those life forms. Destruction of another life form without valid purpose is wrong, and cruelty to any life form is always wrong. Ofcourse, once Utopia is achieved, synthetic foods or other technologies will change this equation.

Our ability to control our environment and ourselves will have to increase and through some combination of such abilities, each individual will be able to live in their vision of heaven. This picture of Utopia is the ability of each person to live in his or her own picture of Utopia. A heaven on earth where everyone lives, as they desire. In a true Utopia, everything to everyone, everyone belongs to everyone. This would have to be different from the present state, where we live in a family, have monogamy and romance. The idea of exclusiveness, a narrow channeling of impulse and energy is present today.

The most important Manhattan projects of the future will be vast government sponsored enquiries into what the politicians and the participating scientists will call "the problem of happiness" - in other words, the problem of making people love their servitude. Humans are basically insatiable. To make them feel content is not an easy task. Is it possible? Servitude is probably an incorrect word, but work, work for the society, work for someone else? Without economic security, the love of servitude cannot possibly come into existence. Let us assume that the all-powerful executive and its manager will be able to remove permanent security. However, there exists another problem. The love of servitude cannot be established except as a result of deep, personal revolution in human bodies. To bring about that revolution, we would require infant conditioning and the aid of drugs, a fully developed science enabling the government managers to assign any given individual to his or her place in the social and economic hierarchy, a substitute for alcohol and the other narcotics, something less harmful and more pleasure giving, a mere scientific optimisation. But with such propositions in a Utopia, we would be behaving in an anti human way. These would be contradicting our definition of Utopia itself. Utopia, has to have, as its basics, freedom of individuals as one of the key elements, but if everything about the individual is controlled by Human Hatchery Centers and artificial conditioning, then surely, this freedom has been intruded. So there, the inconsistency.

Since the utopians are (largely) contented with their lives, they don't produce great Art. Often it is the sufferings, which bring out the most outstanding piece of music or literature. Wouldn't someone who has experienced just one type of emotion be inept at creating something worthwhile? Closely associated with the concept of universal happiness is a threatening stagnation. In a Utopian society, since people are content with themselves, there is scope for boredom, and a Utopian society could come across as a highly stagnant civilisation. The inhabitants of a Utopian system are too contented living in their rut to extricate themselves and progress to higher things. The free flow of ideas and criticism central to art would be absent.

We would like to conclude by saying that with time and technology, it might be possible to eliminate war, poverty, disease, social unrest, etc. but it would still not constitute Utopia for humanity, for we would have sacrificed the basic tenets of humanity. What could Utopia possibly signify to "semi human androids"? There wouldn't be anyone left to differentiate Utopia from dystopia.